Rotinese - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. Each domain is comprised of a number of named origin groups or clans ( leo ), which constitute its political units. Clans are divided into named lineages ( teik ) and these, in turn, into smaller "birth groups" ( bobongik ), and finally individual households ( urna ). Neither clans nor lineages are localized, though "birth groups" tend to cluster in the same general village area. In conventional terms, "descent" may be described as ideally "patrilineal." In fact, the continuity of origin groups is based on genitor lines that trace relations through a system of inherited, altering names. Since these "hard names," no matter from whom they are inherited, are associated with the masculine aspect of the person, origin groups are conceived of as symbolically "male." If bride-wealth has been paid, the child of the marriage belongs to his father's group and takes a part of his "hard name" from that of his father. This is the statistically overwhelming form of lineage ascription and name inheritance on Roti. The child of a woman for whom no bride-wealth has been paid belongs necessarily to his or her mother's group and acquires a part of the mother's "hard name." Although not exclusively lineal, there is no personally "optative" element in Rotinese lineage ascription.

Kinship Terminology. The Rotinese kin terminology has several levels of articulation. Father and father's brother are distinguished from mother's brother; mother and mother's sister are distinguished from father's sister. Same-sex siblings and parallel cousins are classified according to relative age; opposite-sex cross cousins are distinguished from parallel cousins. There is a special progenitor relationship, marked in the terminology, between mother's brother and sister's child.


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