Avars - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. Kinship is bilateral, although the line of patrilineal descent shapes the clan organization (called tukhum in most of Daghestan but tlibil in Avar, where clan consciousness is unusually strong). Every tukhum has its designation, formed most often from the name of its founder. The tukhum is a strictly patrilineal or agnatic organization—if we keep in mind the kinship nucleus—and is not usually heterogeneous, although its constituency may include persons from diverse places who have received the status of member. The tukhum in turn was divided into smaller patronymic groups the Avars called "the people of one house." The clan and the village "remain the basic cells of native society," with councils of elders and village courts; they are also the basis for Sufi brotherhoods (which have, to some extent, imposed their own territorial organization [Bennigsen and Wimbush 1986, 167]).

The generations were reckoned in the male line, and genealogies were usually short, usually three or four generations; status was determined through a person's clan membership. Feudal families (in earlier centuries) reckoned kinship on a much wider scope.

Kinship Terminology. Kinship terms on both the paternal and maternal side are primarily descriptive (e.g., grandson = "son's son"): emsul emen or kudada (grandfather), emen (father), vas (son), vasasul vas (grandson). Terms for the collateral line are classificatory: vats (brother), vats' al (male cousin), tsina'al (second cousin), mazhimutl' (third cousin), etc.


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