Ch'ol - Kinship

Kinship terminology and kin-based organization are rapidly acculturating to regional Hispanic norms, but reconstructions based on internal Ch'ol and external Mayan comparisons indicate an earlier stage with patrilineal clans, and this hypothesis is supported by evidence from Classic-period hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Kin Groups and Descent. Various forms of evidence indicate the former existence of patrilineal exogamous clans (Villa Rojas 1969, 236), but these currently survive mainly in a feeling of implied kinship and reciprocal obligation between persons of the same surname. Ethnohistorical records in Classic-period hieroglyphic inscriptions indicate rule normally passed to a child of the preceding (male or female) ruler. Because most rulers were male, dynasties of patrilineally related kings resulted, and the data suggest patrilineal descent groups were important elements in Classic political organization.

Kinship Terminology. Kinship terminology of the Omaha type is attested, but in most communities a degree of acculturation is noted. Unacculturated terminology is structurally identical to the working Omaha system attested in the nearby Tzotzil community of Chalchihuitan (i.e., patrilineages with sibling marriage exchange between neighboring families).

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