Bau - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Traditionally, the preferred marriage alliance was between cross cousins; marriage between tribes was possible only after formal request. Nonsororal polygyny was practiced, and a man's status was defined by the number of his wives. The great chiefs married many times, usually in the interests of extending political power. This meant that all of the chiefly families of Fiji were closely related, often many times over in succeeding generations. In such situations, the status of the first wife was distinctly superior. The title of the principal wife of the Rokotui Bau was "Radi ni Bau," and his Second wife was titled "Radi Kaba." The principal wife of the Vunivalu was called "Radi Levuka." Marriage ceremonial was more or less elaborate depending on the rank of the participants. Patrilocal residence was the norm, and divorce could be effected easily by either party.

Domestic Unit. The traditional extended family consisted of several married pairs and their children, inhabiting separate dwellings but sharing and cooperating in one cook house. Typically, men of the family would be closely related to the paternal line, but a daughter and her husband might also belong. The senior male would use the ancestral house site (yavu).

Inheritance. Dwelling houses are allocated by the family head and remain under his control, as do garden plots and other family property such as canoes. At his death, his surviving senior sibling determines the disposition of the house if the deceased has no mature sons. In the case of the great chiefs, the council of the whole tribe (yavusa) would determine succession and with it all rights to property.

Socialization. The rigor and principles of family ranking are a microcosm of larger kin groups and communities. Children are subordinate to their parents, but they are also ranked relative to each other by birth order. Aboriginally, they were ranked first by order of marriage of their mothers and then Between full siblings by birth order. The first child ( ulumatua ) has a special status. Obedience and respect are demanded of the child by the father; after infancy the child is constantly taking orders. Punishment by the father is the main disciplinary mechanism, and the mother is more indulgent than the father, particularly towards boys and young men of the family.

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