Tai Lue - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Traditionally, ordinary Tai Lue marriage appears to have been characteristically Informal and largely monogamous. Sources suggest that evening weaving on public platforms (compared to open verandas in northern Thailand) was an institutionalized occasion for courting—as were the festivals associated mainly with religious occasions. If villages were largely endogamous, this pattern of working while courting is consistent with the informality of courting and marriage. Premarital sexual relations seem not to have been disapproved, but a permanent relation required agreement on such matters as how long the bridegroom would reside with his new wife's family. Many modern Tai Lue homes do not contain the Tai matrilineal ancestral shrines characteristic of northern Thailand that are involved in marriage and the control of sexual behavior. Contemporary information also suggests that postmarital residence is decided pragmatically according to which household requires the residence and services of the couple. This decision is known as aw koei/aw njing, "taking a son-in-law/daughter-in-law." Traditionally divorce by mutual consent was easy.

Domestic Unit. Many Tai houses around Jing Hong are large and may contain more than one elementary family. They appear to operate as a single economic and ritual unit. Today allocation of agricultural land is calculated per capita but assigned by household units.

Inheritance. Very little is known about the intricacies of traditional inheritance. If land was administered as indicated earlier, it seems that the major inheritance pattern was bilateral right to communal land. Today the youngest daughter, if there is one, remains with her parents and expects to inherit the family home.

Socialization. Fathers and mothers are the prime care givers for children, though the household members and neighbors appear to take over duties when required. Both boys and girls attended traditional school in the wat, though only boys went on to be ordained as novices. Today children attend state primary schools where, depending on the population of the area, they may be taught Tai as well as Chinese. In secondary schools, however, Tai is no longer taught. Traditionally the Lue ordained their boys as novices, and not many adults were ordained as monks. Today their numbers are slowly increasing after the destruction of temples during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

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