Chimbu - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Marriage in Chimbu, as in many parts of the world, represents a social and economic link between the groom's kin group and the bride's kin group. The ceremony reflects this with a large number of valuables, primarily pigs and money, negotiated and arranged by senior members of clan segments and given as bride-price. Men are usually in their early twenties when they are first married, women are usually aged 15 to 18. Residence after marriage is usually patrivirilocal. Polygyny is still common, although the influence of Christian missions has reduced its occurrence. Having more than one wife is economically advantageous for men Because women are the primary laborers in the gardens. Until the birth of children, marriages are very unstable, but divorce occurs sometimes years after children are born.

Domestic Unit. Until recently, men always lived separately from their wives in communal men's houses, joining their wives and children most often in the late afternoon at mealtime. Coresidence of a married couple in a single house is becoming more common. If a man has more than one wife, each wife lives in a separate house and has her own gardens. An individual man and his wife or wives are the primary productive unit. Often closely related men will cooperate in the fencing and tilling or adjacent garden plots. Households commonly join others during short visits.

Inheritance. Brothers jointly inherit their father's land in crops as well as rights to fallow and forest land. Usually most of the land is distributed to sons after they are married, when the father gets older and becomes less active. Other valuables are distributed to other kin after a man dies. Land of childless men is redistributed by senior men of the clan segment.

Socialization. Infants and children of both sexes are cared for primarily by their mothers and other sisters. At about the age of 6 or 7, boys move in with their fathers if they live in a separate men's house. Starting at about age 7, about half of Chimbu children begin to attend school. Up to adolescence Chimbu girls spend large amounts of time with their mothers, helping in daily work. Boys form play sets with others of similar age from the same area, and these sets of related boys form relationships that last through adulthood. The initiation Ritual for males, held during the preparation for the pig Ceremony, involved the seclusion and instruction of boys and young men at the ceremonial ground in the meaning of the koa flutes and other ritual questions and proper behavior. Since the festivals were held at intervals of seven to ten years, and all youths who had not previously participated were taken, it was a men's group rite rather than a puberty Ceremony. The initiates were subject to bloodletting and painful ordeals. These ceremonies have ceased, except for revealing the flutes to young people at the time of the feast. At first menstruation, girls were secluded and for a few days (or weeks) instructed in proper behavior, and then their passage was celebrated with a family feast including members of the local subclan and kinsmen. Some girls are still secluded and celebrated in a family rite.

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