Yao of Thailand - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Premarital sexual experimentation is permitted and young people are expected to choose their own marriage partners, with advice from their elders. Fathers retain an intermediary to make arrangements; the couple's horoscopes are examined and, if these are compatible, the girl's parents are approached and the bride-price is discussed. Yao marriage ceremonies are formal, elaborate, and very expensive affairs. Their principal purpose is to transfer the girl, and her fertility, from her father's lineage to that of her husband.

Domestic Unit. The basic unit of Yao social organization is the extended family, a group of people living under the same roof. Most Yao households are made up of a couple, their unmarried children, and one or more married sons with their families. People who cook and eat meals and farm together are considered a family. The Yao prefer to live in an extended family, and under the same roof there may be many related families who help each other in agriculture. The families of the elder sons will eventually depart to build their own houses, leaving the younger son's family with the parents.

Inheritance. Property is divided equally among the surviving sons, but the youngest son will receive the family homestead. Unmarried daughters also inherit a share.

Socialization. The Yao prefer boys over girls, but they love them equally. Infants and children are raised by both parents and by siblings. Physical punishment in child rearing is very rare.

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