Nias - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Bride-wealth ( böli niha, bövö ) consists of up to thirty named prestations, mainly of gold and pigs, raised by loans from agnates and neighbors. Recipients include the members of the bride's lineage and the agnates of her mother, mother's mother, mother's mother's mother, etc. These groups of agnates form a series of affines who are collectively viewed as wife givers (direct or indirect) to the groom. As such they (and the man's own mother's agnates) are ritually superior and are owed lifelong allegiance and tribute on festive occasions. A prohibition on the reciprocal exchange of women gives an asymmetric slant to the pattern of affinal relations. In the south the ideal marriage is with a matrilateral cross cousin, but there is no terminological prescription. Postmarital residence is typically patrilocal. Variant forms of marriage include uxorilocality, polygyny, bride-service, and widow-inheritance. Divorce is rare.

Domestic Unit. There is a range of household types from nuclear family, which forms a unit of production and consumption, up to joint family of brothers with their sons and grandchildren and incoming wives. In central Nias a whole local lineage may reside in one large building with separate family quarters and a common social area.

Inheritance. Sons receive almost everything, with rules varying on how seniority and personal qualities affect entitlement. In some areas uxorilocal sons-in-law and sisters' sons can be endowed if they have been loyal and generous allies to the deceased.

Socialization. Infants are raised by all members of the household, including older siblings. Division of chores by gender begins in early childhood. Full moral responsibility and social adulthood are only attained on marriage and parenthood. The moral qualities valued in a man are filial piety, cleverness and skill in speech, firmness, and initiative; in women, chastity and diligence.

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