Mimika - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage is ideally a matter of direct sister Exchange between two groups, but indirect exchange by means of bride-wealth has been widely accepted as a substitute. The relationship between bride takers and bride givers is subject to rules of avoidance and joking, with bride givers' joking being more aggressive. The ideal preference is for uxorilocal or matrilocal residence.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit consists of a married couple, their unmarried children, and a varying number of dependent relatives, all of whom usually eat and sleep together. Its composition and relation to its neighbors reflect the traditional longhouse community, replaced by separate family dwellings in the villages but still operating in the temporary settlements near sago and fishing grounds. Married couples had their own living quarters but were also part of matrifocal longhouse communities. Frequent intermarriage within coresident extended longhouse communities and strong ties Between siblings blurred the residence parterns. The concentration of traditional communities in villages and the combination of villages in compounds have added to this blurred picture. Each domestic unit operates and cooperates with other units in an autonomous fashion. Working parties are of varying constitution, with a preference for small parties of six to ten persons, subdivided in pairs.

Inheritance. The mobility involved in the food quest and the flexible nature of kinship and descent, as well as the fact that tenure and use of land and fishing grounds operate along a sliding scale between individual and collective claims, all militate against clear-cut rules of inheritance. However, the multifarious ritual functions and the command of natural phenomena such as weather, mosquitoes, and various types of disease are subject to strict rules of predominantly patrilineal inheritance.

Socialization. Babies are well looked after not only by their mothers but also by their fathers, who share the normal duties with their wives. The demands of mobility for the food quest involve the two parents equally; as a result, weaned babies are often left in the care of slightly older siblings, supervised by one or two elder persons. Groups of children roam the village and learn to look after themselves at an early age. Games Children play are predominantly in imitation of adult duties. Sexual segregation sets in after the separate rites of passage for male and female adolescents.

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