Lisu - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage may be with anyone who is not a member of the same clan, irrespective of residence. Cross-cousin marriage (especially patrilateral, of any degree) is preferred and often practiced, with the result that two families exchange mates over time. Polygyny is rare. Bride-payments and the nature and length of service to the wife's parents and brothers are subject to negotiation both before and after marriage. In post-1949 China, these practices have been discouraged by the authorities. After bride-service, residence is patrilocal, at first in the husband's parents' house, then in a separate house nearby. Divorces are infrequent, usually taking place before children are born; divorcées usually return to their parents' houses.

Domestic Unit. The household is the basic socioeconomic unit in village ceremonies, village assessments, village labor, and economic and ritual activities. The typical household is a nuclear or stem family, although extended families also occur. The youngest married son, together with his wife and children, normally remain in his parents' house. Frequently, one or more relatives, usually of the husband, will live with the family. The male head of the household is its spokesman, though individual members may incur debts and hold property separately.

Inheritance. All sons share in the inheritance, the youngest married son usually receiving the house and taking care of a widowed mother. Daughters receive small dowries at marriage.

Socialization. Lisu want and love children and large families. Older siblings, grandparents, and other relatives help parents care for children, often carrying them in back slings. Toilet training and weaning are lenient. As soon as able, a child begins taking part in adult activities, and by 13 or 14 is making important contributions to the household economy.

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