Kin Groups and Descent. Residues of clan ( tukhum ) organization have survived among the Balkars. The tukhums are divided into smaller structures: patrilineages, patriarchal communes ( antaul), and monogamous families ( yuyur). Each tukhum has its own cemetery. Some of the patrilineages are traced back patronymically to a founding father or matronymically to a founding mother and enjoy great prestige and communal privilege. The names of clan founders are thus preserved in the dual system of the Balkars, although blood ties on the father's side are considered more prestigious than those on the mother's side. A system of unequal kinship groups was the basis of Balkar class structure but has now lost its former significance.
Kinship Terminology. The bilateral kinship terminology of the Balkars is descriptive: ata (father), ana (mother), qart ata [qart, "old"] (grandfather), qart ana (grandmother), etc. Collateral kin terms include: qarïndash (brother), and egech (sister); in the next generation: ata qarnash (father's brother), ana qarnash (mother's brother), etc. The second cousin is called eki qarnashdan tuughan, "one born from brothers," and so forth. The terms for affinity through marriage preserve traces of the common Turkic system: kelin (daughter-in-law), kyuey (son-in-law), qayïn ana (mother-in-law), qayïn ata (father-in-law), qayïn (brother-in-law), and qayïn qïz (sister-in-law).