Kin Groups and Descent. The bilateral kindred ( usbawaris ) extending to second cousins is the major kinship category. Lineal descent has no special functional or ideological significance, and a hallmark of Tausug society is the absence of enduring corporate groups of any kind. According to the Tausug interpretation of the Shafi marriage law, children are filiated with the father and his kindred ( usbaq ), but in other contexts, aside from marriage and divorce, ties are acknowledged bilaterally without distinction. Relations with kin are markedly dyadic; relatives act as a group only during life crises, in times of sickness or special need, or when family honor is at stake. Sibling solidarity is especially intense. Bonds between brothers and first cousins are particularly important in forging political allegiances and in garnering support in times of armed conflict. In addition to kinship, a variety of ritual-friendship relations is recognized. These include sworn alliances between allies and ritual friendships between rivals, or potential rivals, entered into—often at the instigation of regional leaders—to forestall open enmity or bring it to an end. Having many friends is essential for success in armed feuds and litigation and for safety in traveling outside one's home region.
Kinship Terminology. Terminology emphasizes generation, relative age, and lineality; cousin terms are of the Eskimo type.