Kmhmu - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Although marriages are traditionally arranged through negotiation between the two families involved, individuals have substantial influence over their choice of spouse as long as they choose within the prescribed kinship system. Adolescent girls receive nocturnal visits from suitors, who make use of a Jew's harp to send verbal messages of love to the girl. If she reciprocates the boy's affection, she responds by playing on a flute. Premarital sexual activities are accepted, although they should not result in pregnancy. Marriage is negotiated between the two families, and formalized through ceremonies hosted by each side. Where the boy's side meets the bride-price expected by the girl's side, the new family may reside near the boy's family. Where the boy is unable to meet the bride-price, he will indenture himself to his father-in-law for a period of service, during which the new family resides with the girl's parents. Divorces are formalized through negotiation between the two sides; they may require a refund of the bride-price (for instance if the match does not produce offspring, or the wife is unfaithful) or a fine (if the husband has abandoned or mistreated the wife). Polygyny is sometimes practiced by more prosperous men.

Domestic Unit. The household is the primary domestic unit, comprised of a nuclear family as its core and sometimes including grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, children-inlaw, and others. Young unmarried men may reside for some period in the communal men's house or joong, or they may live together away from the village in an urban area where they have gone as temporary laborers.

Socialization. Infants are raised by both parents and by older siblings, aunts, or cousins. A father can perform most parental responsibilities. Infants are usually carried by adults in slings on the chest or back; when carried by a child they may be held on the hip. Adolescent males traditionally reside together in a communal men's house, where they learn techniques of hunting, trapping, and material culture.


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