Kapauku - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage is ideally arranged between the Families of the prospective groom and brothers and mother of the prospective bride. The preferences of the woman are considered secondary to the possibility of collecting a high Brideprice but, in practice, her mother may set a forbiddingly high bride-price to discourage an unacceptable suitor. Elopements, while considered improper, occur with some frequency. In such cases the families of the eloping couple will likely accept the union by negotiating a bride-price after the fact. Courtship is often conducted in the context of the pig feast, when young men and women arrive at the host village from neighboring villages to dance and to be seen by Members of the opposite sex. Premarital sex, while not approved of because of its possible negative effect on a woman's Brideprice, is generally not punished. Premarital pregnancy, However, is severely disapproved. Divorce involves the return of bride-price, and the children generally remain with their mother until they reach the age of about 7, at which time they join their father's village. Polygyny, as an indicator of the husband's ability to pay multiple bride-prices, is the ideal. A widow is expected to remarry within a suitable period following the death of her husband, unless she is quite old or very sick, but the levirate is not assumed.

Domestic Unit. The household consists, minimally, of a nuclear family, but it more commonly also includes consanguineal or affinal kinsmen and their wives and children as well. In the case of wealthy and prestigious men, there may also be apprentices or political supporters and their wives and children. The household is the basic Kapauku unit of Residence and, to a large extent, of production and consumption. Within the household, the house owner is titular head, responsible for organizing production activities and maintaining cooperation among the male household members. However, each married male has sole authority over the affairs of his wife or wives and his offspring, an authority which even the head of household cannot usurp.

Inheritance. Personal items, such as bows and arrows, penis sheaths, etc., are interred or otherwise left with the corpse of the deceased. Land and accrued wealth is inherited by males through the paternal line, ideally by the deceased's first-born son. If there is no son, a man's eldest brother inherits. Women do not inherit land.

Socialization. Children learn adult roles through observation and by specific training. Boys leave their mothers' apartments at the age of about 7 to live in the men's dormitory, at which time they are explicitly exposed to the expected adult male behaviors. There is no male initiation ceremony. Girls, upon achieving their menarche, undergo a brief period (two days, two nights) of semiseclusion in a menstrual hut during the time of their first two menstruations. During this time they are instructed in the responsibilities and skills of adulthood by close female relatives. After these periods of seclusion, girls put aside the skirtlike apparel of childhood and begin to wear the bark-thong wrap of adulthood.

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