Serbs - Kinship

Kin Groups. The most important kinship group after the zadruga, or extended family household, is the vamilija (Lineage) . Tracing descent patrilineally from a common known ancestor, sharing a common last name, and having the same patron saint, a vamilija nonetheless lacks the corporate functions normally associated with true lineage structure. Lineages are exogamous, and the bonds created by marriages between them are socially important. In addition, the fictive kin relationships created by godfatherhood ( kumstvo ) and blood brotherhood ( pobratimstvo ) are important social ties.

Descent. Descent is strictly agnatic, and to die without male heirs is one of the worst personal tragedies that can befall a traditional Serbian peasant. Village society is built on the matrix of male kin relationships as expressed in lineage structures and the relationships between them. Knowledge of this matrix, and one's place in it, are important in knowing who you are and where you came from. It is common for rural men to be able to recall accurately several hundred living and deceased male relatives spanning eight, or even ten, generations.

Kinship Terminology. Serbian kinship terminology is complicated and does not fit readily into conventional categories. On the first ascending generation, however, terminology is bifurcate-collateral for males and lineal for females. In general, terms for consanguineal kin are more specific than for affines. For example, a cover term, sua or snaja, can be applied to all in-marrying females.

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