Kwoma - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. The basic kin groups are named, exogamous, patrilineal, patrilocal clans. In theory, members of a single clan trace descent by known agnatic links from a common, named, human male forbear. Some clans are agnatically linked through their founders to other exogamous groups, but such larger patrilineal units are not named and do not unite for action in any context. Each clan "owns" a large number of totems, principally plants and animal species. Totemic species are classified as either "male" or "female": "male" species (e.g., different types of fish) provide the majority of men's names, "female" species (e.g., most birds, including the cassowary and birds of paradise) the majority of women's names. Clans that share the same or similar sets of totems form named divisions of classes; such divisions cross village, tribal, and even linguistic boundaries. Members of clans in the same totemic division regard each other as kin. A person's other major class of relatives are those by marriage. People who are neither kin nor affines are "unrelated" or "strangers." Clans in the same totemic division may intermarry.

Kinship Terminology. Kwoma terminology follows the Omaha system. Relationship terms also conflate laterally members of individual clans of the same sex and relative age, regardless of the degree of genealogical connection. Thus, a person refers to all clanswomen of his or her own generation as "true sisters" and kinsmen of his or her first ascending Generation as "true fathers." "Classifïcatory" sisters and fathers are persons of equivalent sex and generation in other clans in the same totemic division.

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