Mazatec - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage is generally monogamous, although polygamy and concubinage are tolerated. There are communities in which approximately 20 percent of families are polygamous.

Marriage is normally between young people of the same village and the same neighborhood. Villages are subdivided into districts, on the basis of which marriage is regulated. This is arranged by the parents and is a time for establishing alliances between extended families. Marriage prohibitions extend to second cousins of both sides, although the father's side is emphasized.

Domestic Unit. The basic domestic unit is the nuclear family integrated within an extended family, entailing reciprocal obligations for collective labor and other forms of social solidarity.

Inheritance. Because the Mazatec have a patrilineal society, it is generally the older son who inherits his father's land and other property, although sometimes land is divided among the children, causing increasing fragmentation of property and lessening the opportunity for productive gain.

Socialization. Mazatec children are taught the tenets of their indigenous worldview as they are cared for by the women in the household. Their symbolic world is organized on the basis of the Mazatec language. When they enter school, however, they are inculcated with the basic strategies for getting along in the mestizo world that surrounds them, usually by a bilingual teacher.

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