Tujia - Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kinship. Beyond the household the significant kin group is the patrilineage, which is now weak in its functions but continues to have generational depth. It appears that in the past many immigrants adopted the surnames of the larger lineages, especially Peng, Tian, and Xiang. Even so, marriage between people of the same surname is disapproved.

Marriage. Marriages are monogamous. Patrilocal residence is the ideal, but neolocal residence is acceptable. In the past, cross-cousin marriage was preferred, and the maternal uncle could claim or renounce his right to have his sister's daughter as daughter-in-law. Today, the maternal uncle's blessing to a marriage of a niece is still considered important. Even so, past and present, young Tujia could court and choose their own spouses, although such marriages once required the approval of the shaman. Under Chinese influence, dowry, bride-price, and arranged marriages became more frequent. It is not clear when the custom arose of ku jia (a gathering of the girl and her friends on the wedding eve to sing traditional and improvised songs lamenting the upcoming marriage). Divorce is rare and considered improper.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the most frequent form, though more complex households are not unknown.

Inheritance. An eldest son inherited his father's property but was expected to share it with his brothers. If a man had no son, his younger brother's son became his heir.

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