Kin Groups and Descent. The most important functioning kin group is the extended family constituted as a household. Family names, which are carried by the males of some families, reflect the patrilineal inheritance pattern and are also used to demarcate the noble families.
Kinship Terminology. Formal kinship terminology in the southern region, among the peasant population, distinguishes between patri- and matrilaterals at the second ascending generation, is bifurcate-collateral at the first ascending generation, and shows a typical Hawaiian generational pattern at Ego's generation level. In practice, this system results in a strong bias toward distinguishing between one's matrilateral and one's patrilateral kin for the purposes of inheritance. For relatives of his or her own level, including cousins, the average Tibetan simply uses the terms "brother" and "sister." There is local and regional variation in terminology throughout the plateau.