Tabasarans - Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. There are various terms for the designation of kinship groups, "tukhum" being the most common; others include nasil, jins, qam , and merasar. All these terms designate an aggregate of all kin relations, near and remote, in the patrilineal lines to seven degrees. Usually the jamaat (communal assembly) consisted of several tukhums, each of which had its own name (usually that of its founding grandfather). Rayat (dependent or bound peasants) did not have the right to organize their own tukhum. Persons arriving from other places or separate families could be accepted into a tukhum with the agreement of all involved. At the same time, the tukhum had the right to ostracize undesirable persons from its midst. Every tukhum used to have its attached plow lands, woods, hay fields, pastures, mills, and enclosures for livestock. In each quarter in the settlements, each tukhum had its gathering place (gim), located by the gate of the head of the tukhum; it was here that patrilineal assemblages met. In the traditional communal way of life of the Tabasarans, the customs of mutual aid, hospitality, and blood vengeance were staunchly preserved. There existed various forms of ritual brotherhood (e.g., in feudal times, the entrusting of a small child to another's household for education and the handing over of an infant for nursing in the home of a prosperous peasant). Kinship is reckoned in both paternal and maternal lines: the father's line was "of the fur cap" ( bachuk' teref ) and the mother's line was "of the kerchief ( lakach terefnan ). (Such reference to gender by characteristic headgear is known elsewhere in the Caucasus.)

Kinship Terminology. The term for one's mother's brother is khalu ; father's brother is em; mother's sister, khala ; father's sister, erne. Cognatic kinship in the direct line could be designated up to six degrees: son ( bay), grandson ( khtul ), great grandson ( gudul ), great-great-grandson ( ts'udul ), and so forth. Collateral relatives (father's older brother, male first cousins, etc.) were not distinguished by special terms but were designated with descriptive constructions; for example, a male first cousin on the father's side was "father's brother's child" ( emdin bay ), and so on.

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