Hani - Marriage and Family

Marriage. In Xishuangbanna, Hani marriage was traditionally monogamous. Taking a second wife incurred public condemnation and punishment by fine, as well as the obligation to return the first wife's dowry to her family. In the Honghe area, Hani marriage was polygamous, especially for the local leaders and wealthy households. Men were allowed postmarital sexual freedom, whereas such behavior was strictly prohibited for women. However, in both areas the Hani permitted premarital sexual relations. In Xishuangbanna a young couple would usually meet with their parents' approval for marriage, and there would follow nine ceremonial events between engagement and marriage. In Honghe the parents arranged the marriage while the children involved were young. Marriage ceremonies varied from place to place. For example, in Lancang the people considered a couple wed when the groom passed through the village gate. In Xishuangbanna, a couple who wanted a divorce could simply pay the village headman a "processing" fee, and then both were free to find new spouses. In other areas, a husband could abandon his wife, but if a wife wanted a divorce, she would have to return the betrothal gifts to the groom's family; widows who remarried were objects of discrimination.

Domestic Unit. The preferred domestic unit is the nuclear family. After marriage, a couple moves to a new household, close to the groom's parents.

Inheritance. Among the Hani, the house and property are passed down through the male line. A woman can only inherit if her husband resides with her family.

Socialization. Parents typically treat children leniently until the age of 6 or 7, at which time they are expected to start helping with household chores. Prior to 1949, there was only one elementary school in the region. Children were educated by their parents—boys in agricultural and tool-making skills; girls in household management, weaving, and sewing. As of 1985 there were 503 elementary schools and 3 middle schools; 80 percent of Hani children attended school.

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