Tasmanians - Kinship, Marriage and Family

Little is known about Tasmanian kinship and kinship terminology.

Marriage. Marriage was evidently community exogamous and many men captured wives from other communities. Arranged marriages are also reported. Most marriages were monogamous, although older men might have more than one wife. Divorce was allowed, and widows were considered the property of the society into which they married, suggesting the generally lower status afforded women than men.

Domestic Unit. The monogamous or polygynous family (perhaps with an additional relative) was the basic residential, production, and consumption unit. Early reports suggest large families, with later accounts noting frequent abortion and infanticide after contact with Europeans.

Socialization. Children were cared for primarily by their mothers. Both parents were indulgent and physical punishment was not used. The major childhood task for boys and girls was to master the hunting, collecting, climbing, building, and manufacturing skills they would need as adults. At puberty, boys were initiated through a ceremony involving scarification, naming, and the presentation of a fetish stone. There evidently was no comparable ceremony for girls.

User Contributions:

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