Kin Groups and Descent. Patrilineages are constituted by two or more virilocal domestic units living in adjacent lands inherited from their ancestors. Strong in the past, patrilineages are rapidly losing ground because of a shrinking land base. Although there is still some preference for virilocality, the system now tends more toward bilocality. Young couples choose their residence near the groom's or bride's family, according to which family can offer them more land or space in the house; or, they establish residence close to either but manage their economy independently.
Kinship Terminology. Kin terms reflect the principles of age, gender, and generation, central organizing axes among the Chamula. People of a generation older than the speaker are addressed respectfully as "uncle" and "aunt." A Chamula couple establishes a fictive-kinship tie, or compadrazgo , with the godparents of their children. These ties are very important; they create or reinforce life-long friendships and foster respect and mutual aid among the people involved.