Toraja - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. As noted earlier, Toraja kinship is organized around the tongkonan (kindred house). Each tongkonan has its own unique name and history. A given tongkonan belongs to all male and female descendants of its two founding ancestors (husband and wife). As Toraja descent is bilateral, an individual may claim links to a number of tongkonan on both the mother's and father's side. A group of kin who trace their descent to a common pair of tongkonan-founding ancestors is called a pa'rapuan. In some areas, smaller, splinter branches of pa'rapuan are called rapu. Pa'rapuan members come together for ritual occasions and share in the expenses of rebuilding the tongkonan.

Kinship Terminology. There is some confusion as to whether Toraja kinship terminology should be classified as Hawaiian or Eskimo. Although terms for different degrees of cousins (first, second, third, etc.) exist, in everyday practice these are avoided and sibling terms are substituted. The system is generational in nature and kin terms tend to convey the relative age (and sometimes gender) of individuals.

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