Butonese - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Polygynous marriages occurred especially among the kaomu and the walaka. The sultan, in particular, had many wives, for reasons of state integration. Most marriages today are monogamous even though Islamic law allows polygyny. Although parents are much involved in the arrangement of the marriage, freedom of partner choice was always a part of Buton culture. Cousins in the first, second, third, and sometimes fourth degree are distinguished by special kinship terms. In most villages marriages with the first cousin are forbidden, except for the nobility. In some villages marriages to second or third cousins are preferred, in order to keep possessions within the family. After marriage the man stays in the house of his bride's parents until he can build his own house.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the usual domestic unit, forming a household in which it cooks and eats meals around the same hearth. After a wedding the newlywed couple often lives with the bride's parents. Old people, especially widows, often live in the household of one of the children, usually one of the daughters. Orphans usually live in the household of near kin. If a widow lives in her own house, one or more grandchildren often live with her.

Inheritance. Property is usually divided equally among the surviving children. Some goods, however, such as the keris (a ceremonial knife), are inherited only by men, and others only by women. The house is usually inherited by the child who stayed with the parents, after marriage, to care for them; usually this is the youngest daughter. In the kraton, more elaborate rules of inheritance existed than in the villages.

Socialization. Infants are now raised by both parents. Because Buton society was divided into four classes, the children of each class were socialized according to the norms of those classes. The girls of the kaomu and the walaka had to stay in seclusion between first menstruation and marriage; no men were allowed to see them. After World War II this custom disappeared. As in all of Indonesia, the opportunities for education are the same for both sexes.

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