Maisin - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. Patricians occupying hamlets within the village form the most stable kin groups. They vary greatly in composition. The smallest comprise single lineages, while the largest are composed of smaller named subclans, each occupying different areas of the hamlet or separate Hamlets. Patricians occupying land in different hamlets or villages often have close historical associations with each other. Patrician identities are indicated by land claims and by emblems, including tapa designs, ritual customs, types of magic, limespatula designs, body decorations, and plant tokens. They are also affirmed—and disputed—in migration stories. Maisin distinguish two ranks of patrician: the kawo and the sabu. The higher-ranked kawo clans enjoy certain ritual prerogatives, including the right to host feasts and dances in their hamlet plazas and to wear certain ornaments such as chicken feathers. Whatever importance these ranks had in the past when warfare and intertribal feasting were common, they have little practical or political influence today. The Patricians are rarely significant in the day-to-day affairs of the Villages. Villagers generally call upon close cognatic kin and affines to form work groups and to host or participate in ceremonials and formal exchanges. Active kin groups, then, vary greatly from occasion to occasion. Descent is formally patrilineal, but as in much of Melanesia, there are many Exceptions to the rule.

Kinship Terminology. Iroquois-type terms are used and relative age is distinguished.

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