Chambri - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Polygyny has become increasingly rare since the early 1960s when the Catholic mission became fully established in the area. Mother's brother's daughter marriage is the most commonly stated preference; 30 percent of Chambri marriages do take place with a member of the matrilateral cross cousin's clan. Although subject to some recent change, most marriages are still within the village and virtually all are with other Chambri. Given that Chambri settlements are both dense and contiguous, when a woman leaves her clan land to move to that of her husband, she still remains close to her natal kin. Marriage involves prestations of bride-wealth, traditionally in shells and now in money. Prestations by wife takers are of great political importance and provide the context for a clan to demonstrate its wealth and importance. In their turn, wife givers reciprocate with food. Among non-Catholics, divorce may be initiated by either husband or wife, frequently for reasons of incompatibility or infertility. However, divorce is discouraged by kin on both sides since it should involve a return of affinal payments. In cases of Divorce, young children remain with their mothers until they are old enough to assume patrilineal responsibilities.

Domestic Unit. Formerly all women lived in large multi-family clan houses, which functioned as maps of family Solidarity and affinal interdependence. Each of a man's wives would situate her cooking hearth in the portion of the house allocated to her husband and fasten there the carved hook bearing the totemic insignia of her own patrician. From this hook, she would hang the basket containing a portion of her patrimony of shell valuables. Today, under the influence of the Catholic church and a cash economy, these houses have been largely replaced by smaller, single-family dwellings. Clan members often prefer living in these smaller dwellings Because they can better protect private purchased goods, such as radios, from agnatic claims.

Inheritance. Property including land, fishing rights, and valuables, as well as ritual prerogatives, implements, and powers, are inherited by male and, to a lesser extent, by female patrician members.

Socialization. Mothers take responsibility for primary Socialization; nonetheless, they frequently leave their children with their sisters or with other women when they have work to do, particularly when they go out to fish. Young children are rarely left with men who, although affectionate and indulgent, regard excrement and urine as polluting. A bond of great importance to Chambri children is with their mothers' brothers. Frequently, if disgruntled, children will seek solace from these matrilateral kinsmen. Moreover, mothers' brothers have an essential role as nurturers in the initiation, through scarification, of their sisters' sons.

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