Chinantec - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage was traditionally arranged by the groom's parents, directly or through an intermediary. This custom continues in attenuated form. Female virginity was, and still is, not essential. In some areas short periods of bride- or groom-service were formerly expected; elopements were frequent, in part because ritual gifts and other aspects of the wedding were so expensive. Polygyny was apparently practiced prior to the Spanish Conquest and, to a limited extent, thereafter. Today, as in the past, divorce is not permitted, but marital separations sometimes occur, in which case the abandoning partner is fined.

Domestic Unit. The conjugal pair, their minor children, and sometimes a surviving parent are the most common domestic unit. Sons, or occasionally daughters, may live with their parents for a short time following marriage. Single-person households are rare.

Inheritance. Customs vary by locality, and in communities where most lands are communal, there may be little other than the house and house site to inherit. In general, sons inherit more often than daughters and receive equal shares. The house is typically inherited by the youngest son (or daughter), who is expected to care for the elderly parents until their death.

Socialization. The mother, along with older siblings, carries out most child socialization. There are no specific children's games but rather ones improvised with natural products like earth or flowers. Children are given responsibilities at a young age. Communities vary greatly in their attitudes toward formal schooling, from those that place great stock in it to those that are indifferent. In the past, only boys were formally educated, but now girls also attend school.

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