Nissan - Kinship



Kinship Groups and Descent. Matrilineal descent groups crosscut village and district boundaries. These groups include moieties—"Eat the Dog" and "Eat the Pigeon"—that are Divided into sibs named after major dietary restrictions ( tobu ) imposed upon members. Sibs may contain partially localized subgroups, sometimes named after specific land areas. Descent groups own no property although they may once have done so. Primarily they regulate marriage and breach the Political autonomy of once-warring villages and districts.

Kinship Terminology. A person distinguishes consanguineal relatives within his genealogical generation by sex only. Islanders believe the relationship between brothers and sisters to be the most important of all relationships, a basis, Indeed, of Nissan society and morality. It is characterized by formal avoidances known as walatur (literal meaning: "causing to stand up"), including the rule—still observed to varying degrees—that a brother may not remain seated while his sister stands in his presence. In the parental generation, all females, including the mother, are identified by a common term; two other terms distinguish the father and his male kin from the mother's male kin, such as the mother's brother. Kinship terminology could be described as a variant of the Hawaiian system, but unlike the ideal Hawaiian system the Nissan terminology distinguishes one's mother's brother from other male relatives of one's parental generation.


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