Melpa - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage takes place through an exchange of payments of a bride-wealth type. Payments are high and require the cooperation of kin groups. The items are pigs, shells (traditionally), and cash (nowadays). Reverse prestations are made from the bride's side, including an endowment of breeding pigs over which she has significant control. Residence is normatively patrivirilocal. Divorce does occur and is marked by the return of a part of the bride-wealth, especially if the woman is judged at fault or has produced no children for the husband's clan.

Domestic Unit. A newly married couple may either build a fresh women's house for the bride or may use space in an existing women's house. Over time they will build houses for themselves, close to the man's settlement.

Inheritance. Land rights are the most important for inheritance, and land is parceled out according to the needs of children at their marriages. Most land goes to sons. Married daughters may be given cultivation rights at their natal place also.

Socialization. A postpartum taboo is observed for two to three years, after which children are weaned. Training is not severe, and children are treated with tolerance. There is no formal group-based initiation ritual for either boys or girls, but boys shift to the men's house well before puberty. Puberty for boys is marked by the donning of a wig made from human hair. Traditionally, both sexes learn by the "look and learn" method. Nowadays, most children go at least to primary school.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: