Kewa - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage is clan-exogamous. Wealth is Exchanged and negotiated by the father, uncles, or brothers of the bride with the woman's father or brother. The display of bride-wealth includes pearl shells, pigs, salt, indigenous oil, axes, knives, and cash. In some areas cassowaries are Exchanged as well. Reciprocal gifts are exchanged on the part of the bride's group. The negotiation and acceptance of Exchange items are pivotal in the marriage, just as their renegotiating is crucial in divorce settlements. Polygynous marriages are still common, although now most marriages are Monogamous and take place within the tradition of exchange and the contemporary validation of the church. The new bride is expected to live and work with the mother-in-law while the groom prepares a house and clears land for gardens. Ideally, sexual relations take place after the negotiations are complete. Residence for the wife is primarily virilocal. Divorce is not uncommon, especially if there are as yet no children, and perhaps half of the "marriages" end in divorce, if trial Marriages and casual liaisons preceding bride-wealth settlements are taken into account.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family may live together in a house, once the household unit is established. Many adult male members of the households spend considerable time in the men's houses as well. If there are gardens some distance from the central parish locale, then temporary houses are built there. People from other areas who have some obligations to a family may be adopted into the family. The term for a family is araalu, meaning "duration of the father." Married households have menstrual huts nearby that also function as birth huts.

Inheritance. The adult senior male distributes the wealth. Most items pass on to the next brother(s) in line, but pigs that the wife or daughters have tended become their property. Land is awarded through the male lineage. In cases of land shortage, the husband may return to the wife's domain to receive some land. People near death are encouraged to voice their will where shells, household goods, and common items are concerned.

Socialization. Children are raised by their mother and aunts until they are 8-10 years old, when the males start to spend time in the men's house. Rarely are any children subject to physical discipline. They have no kone (responsible thoughts, behavior) until they are 6 or so and, since they may die at a young age, the parents would be remorseful if they had punished the youngsters. Young boys in the men's house are expected to be quiet and listen to the talk and tales of the elders. All young children learn how to interact in the culture by observing and listening. Traditionally, no formal initiation rites seem to occur for either sex. Participation in men's cult activities marks the point at which a young adult male is accepted into the male adult cult world, and it usually begins when the boy is about 14 or so.

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