Tangu - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Because of the sexual division of labor in Tangu, there are few unmarried adults. Marriages bring about cooperative exchange relationships between the families of the husband and wife. Ideally, marriages are arranged Between the children of people who are already friends or Between certain cross cousins. There is a period of formal betrothal lasting for several years, marked by the groom's family presenting a pig, chaplets of dogs' teeth, and other valuables to the wife's family. At first the engaged pair practice avoidance behavior, but later they exchange labor in one another's households. At the wedding itself, the wife's brothers host the husband's family. This practice not only clears the debt created by the betrothal pig and valuables, but it also sets up the exchange relationship between husband and wife's brothers that continues through the life of the marriage. Either partner is free to break off the marriage at will, but the close ties between their families make it difficult to do so without good cause. Men may often seek a second wife, commonly a sister of the first wife, or sometimes a divorced woman. These second marriages are accompanied by relatively little Ceremony: a payment to the woman's brothers usually contracts the marriage. Later, a return payment to the husband sets up the exchange relationship and frees the woman to divorce the man if she wishes.

Domestic Unit. The basic and most permanent Cooperative work group is the household, generally consisting of a man, his wife or wives, and their natural and adopted Children. Occasionally an aging parent of either spouse may reside with them, but households are typically small and simply constituted.

Inheritance. Among the most important things that can be inherited are land claims and friendship relationships. These pass from parents of either sex to all of their children. People of the same sex, whose parents were friends, are expected to be friends. Land claims and personal relationships can also be inherited from other close relatives. As with land claims, people usually inherit more friendship relations than they can actually use, and they choose to activate those they find most congenial or most useful.

Socialization. Young children spend most of their time with their mothers and mother's sisters for the first few years of their lives. For girls, the natal household is the focus of their lives. They follow a fairly tranquil transition to adulthood, practicing the skills of Tangu womanhood from an early age. They learn the skills and crafts of women from their mothers and aunts: how to cook, carry, collect water, clear brush, and weed; how to make string, skirts, and string bags; how to gather and use wild plants; and how to care for younger siblings. For boys, the path to adulthood is less smooth. When a boy is about 6, he leaves his mother and begins to spend more time with his father, for whom he performs small services, and is taught a variety of skills. He learns about household lands and his father's special talents, such as curing, painting, carving, drumming, dancing, plaiting, building, trapping, or fishing. At the same time, he becomes involved with his mother's brothers, from whom he learns of their land claims and their special skills. Traditionally, at adolescence, boys entered a clubhouse, to be secluded, circumcised, and initiated. With the breakdown of this system, adolescent boys have some difficulties handling the authority of their fathers and mothers' brothers as they come of age, and a period of contract labor is common before marriage. Socialization in sexual matters is provided in part by the gangaringniengi or "sweetheart" relationship with a particular cross cousin who, although in a marriageable category, is forbidden as a marriage partner. "Sweethearts" dance, sit together, flirt, and fondle and stroke one another, engaging in love play. Breast and penis stimulation are common, but coitus is Formally prohibited.

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