Keraki - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage is generally arranged by men, through "sister exchange," although "sisters" are frequently classificatory. Since two couples are created simultaneously, someone (typically a "bride") may still be adolescent when these Exchanges are technically effected. In such cases, the girl becomes a member of the husband's household, even if the husband is still residing in the young men's house, and years may pass before the marriage is actually consummated. Polygyny is common: only about 55 percent of marriages are Monogamous. Mates are chosen from outside the moiety and, Generally, from outside the local totemic group. The levirate and sororate are both loosely practiced in a classificatory sense. Divorce is rare: since it directly affects another couple, considerable social pressure is brought to bear on women to uphold the marriage contract.

Domestic Unit. The basic domestic unit is the household, generally consisting of a man, his wife or wives, and their younger children. Occasionally a close relative may reside with them, but households are typically small and simply constituted.

Inheritance. Inheritance is normally patrilineal. A woman will leave her possessions to the "sons' wives" who live in her village.

Socialization. Keraki have no form of institutionalized instruction except during the seclusion and initiation of young boys, when they learn the secrets of the bullroarer and "sacred pipe," learn of hunting and other rituals, and hear secret mythological stories. At other times, children of both sexes are left to observe the day-to-day norms of behavior and to conduct themselves accordingly. By the norms of Western Society, parents are quite indulgent and somewhat neglectful, although they do instruct and scold children when necessary.

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