Nganasan - Kinship



Kinship Groups and Descent. At about the beginning of the twentieth century there were five exogamous clans with patrilineally inherited names among the Avam-Nganasan. Moreover, marriage was prohibited along both matrilineal and patrilineal lines up to three degrees. Given the relatively small population, it might seem from the outside that all of these people were more or less related; nevertheless, exogamy was strictly observed. In extreme cases Enets might emerge as marriage partners. Among the Vad at this time there were seven clans, which also observed bilateral exogamy but entered more freely into marriage with Dolgans. As long as exogamy was observed, premarital sexual relations were not condemned. In recent times there have been occasional breaches of exogamy. Marriages with members of neighboring groups are common now, usually between a Nganasan woman and an outsider. Such marriages are often unstable and, in the majority of cases, the children are considered Nganasan and remain with the mother. The formerly clear delimination of Nganasan clans is becoming less clear. For example, there are now Dolgan men with Nganasan clan names resulting from marriages to Nganasan women.

Kinship Terminology. By tradition, a younger person may not address an elder by name, but only by a kinship-affinity or relative-age term. Given exogamous names, a knowledge of kinship is vital. The terminology for members of the older generation and that of Ego is complicated and elaborate. The system as a whole does not have "descriptive" terms (i.e., for one particular type of relative) but, rather, is classificatory and reckons in terms of lineage and age.


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