Awakateko - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage is monogamous. Young men of 15 begin to save money; girls of 15 prepare for courtship by taking interest in their appearance. Either personally or through a representative, an Aguacatan boy will approach the female he admires. Negotiations begin between the two families, with the future bride's father setting a bride-price. Sometimes the price is too high, and the couple runs off together. Under patrilineal rules, a girl must convert her religious beliefs to conform with those of her husband. The marriage ceremony involves family, friends, and shamans: it is called quicyuj, meaning "cacao beans" which in ancient times were used as money for the payment of the bride-price. The heavy influence of missionary activity has emphasized church and civil ceremonies. After the marriage, the bride lives with her parents and receives nightly visits from her husband. In two to three weeks, the couple moves to the husband's household. Sons live on or near their parents' land, whereas daughters always leave their parental homes. Fidelity is highly valued, and divorce is not common, for it is said that unfaithfulness angers the dead. Mixed marriages with other ethnic groups are sensitive.

Domestic Unit. The two basic domestic units in Awakateko society are nuclear and extended families. The most common is the nuclear family consisting of a father, mother, and two or three children. A few family-based households include widowed or divorced parents. Households that are not nuclear or extended are mostly centered on women—widows or divorcées living alone or with their children. Men almost never live apart from women.

Inheritance. Land is inherited patrilineally by male children through a patrilocal-residence pattern. Inherited land is classified by soil quality, irrigability, rockiness, etc., and inheritance can be a difficult decision for the father. At times, wives will create animosity among the brothers over the inheritance. Through gradual installments over a period of time, the father will issue the land to his sons, retaining his power and role as the patriarch.

Socialization. Children are raised to perform adult tasks and to help with feeding the animals and other farming tasks. Fathers take control over their sons, and mothers, over their daughters. Obedience and respect are instilled at a very early age, but threats of physical punishment are not employed.

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