Kurtatchi - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Blackwood maintains that there was no preferred marriage pattern, only restrictions. Cross cousins as well as parallel cousins were forbidden to marry. Child betrothal was common, typically negotiated between the boy's father and the girl's mother. Marriage involved a series of Exchanges of food and other items between the two sets of relatives; a bride-price was paid in porpoise or flying-fox teeth currency. Polygyny was confined to men of higher rank. A man might inherit his brother's widow and a widower lay claim to his deceased wife's sister. Residence after marriage was uxorilocal; divorce was frequent and easy. Today, Polygyny and child betrothal have ceased, but bride-wealth is still paid in traditional valuables. Furthermore, marriages are contracted beyond the language, or even the ethnic group, since educated young people are more likely to seek out their peers in adopting European life-styles.

Domestic Unit. Traditionally, households consisted of a married couple and immature children. In polygynous Marriages, each wife had her own dwelling. Occasionally an aged parent of either sex might join an adult child's household. During their initiation period, adolescent boys lived in the men's house. The nuclear family household continues to be the norm today, while adolescent children may go away for secondary education.

Inheritance. Since much of a deceased person's property, such as pigs or productive trees, was traditionally consumed or destroyed during funeral observances, inheritance was not of great significance. Traditional valuables and rank were Inherited matrilineally. Today, cash-crop trees or money normally pass from parents of either sex to their children.

Socialization. An individual's kindred was the group of greatest influence in daily life, and fathers took an active part in caring for small children. Many events in a child's life, such as first appearance in public after birth or a first trip to the garden, were marked with ceremonies, especially if the child was of high rank. However, the most distinctive aspect of Socialization among the Tinputz and several other Austronesian groups in Bougainville was the initiation of boys, involving the wearing of the upe hat. This distinctive headgear was made from leaves of a fan palm, stretched over a bamboo frame to form a cylindrical, or melon, shape. Although the upe was light, it was clumsy and the wearer had to learn to keep it in position during daily activities. For several years, Beginning at age 8 or 9 until the upe was formally removed, the boy was never supposed to be seen by a woman without the hat. The removal ceremony involved cutting the boy's hair, which was quite long by that time. A girl, especially an eldest daughter or one of high rank, might be the subject of seclusion and celebration at menarche, but such observances were not carried out for all. Today, socialization for both sexes involves formal education, at least to the primary level and extending for a few to tertiary schooling.

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