Slav Macedonians - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. With the advent of communism, the older social organization into zadrugas (clans) weakened. Nevertheless, the patrilocal extended family still plays an important role among the Slav Macedonians. The society has strong unilineal characteristics of descent, including the institution of unilateral sponsorship called kumstvo (godparenthood). The existence of the extended family was necessary for farming and herding, clearing of land, defense, and military servitude. When the group became too large, it fissioned into smaller groups. However, the patron saints of each group were retained even after a group's division. Over time, very distant agnates (up to the fourteenth generation), who possess the same patron saint, celebrate an annual feast ( slava ) in its honor. Men celebrate their fathers' slava, women that of their husbands. Each patriline is related to another patriline through kumstvo, which constitutes a much stronger and more permanent relationship than affinal ties. Often the alliance of kumstvo is formed with another group in order to prevent an affinal tie. The marriage is permitted only if kumstvo is dissolved. However, in 90 percent of cases the godfather of a male child is also related to the marriage or baptismal sponsor of the godchild's father, and kumstvo is further inherited by the male members of the group, so dissolution of such alliances is unlikely. Kumstvo is given in Exchange for important favors, friendship, and avoidance of enmity. The relationship is not reciprocal. Rather, the group tries to obtain prestige through such alliance.

Kinship Terminology. The genealogical reckoning is Primarily agnatic. Kinship terminology distinguishes father's brother ( stric ) from the mother's brother ( ujak ), as well as using a special word to indicate sister's or daughter's husband ( zet ) and a woman married to a set of brothers ( jetrva ). On the agnatic side, marriage is forbidden up to the ninth generation, while the matrilineal first cousins could be regarded as possible mates if it was not for the canonical prohibition. Residence is virilocal. The wife's family lives in another place, and there is a special term used to refer to that group. Both husband and wife use special terms for the kin group with which they do not live (wife's), and neither has a term for the group of residence (husband's), which is considered home. Other than gender distinction, there is no differentiation in cousin terminology.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: