Uighur - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kin Groups and Descent. As in other Central Asian family systems influenced by Islam, the patrilineal principle of kinship has prevailed. Polygamy traditionally could occur, but monogamy prevailed. Unlike some other groups that follow old Turkic prohibitions against marriage to close kin, Uighur have often favored vicinal marriage or village endogamy. Among the Uighur of Uzbekistan, however, a divergent trend of out-marriage to Uzbeks has occurred.

Kinship Terminology. Within the extended family, relationships are often categorized according to relative age group. For instance, older brother ( aka ) is distinguished from younger brother ( uka ) and elder sister ( apa ) from younger sister ( singil ). Certain relatives are given terms of respect and endearment in addition to more formal titles: aunt ( apa ) and uncle ( togha ) are also called "little mother" ( kichik apa ) and "little father" ( kichik dada ).

Marriage. Soviet attempts to secularize wedding ceremonies have evolved into celebrations that combine official state ceremony with traditional celebration (music, dance, and feasting).

Domestic Unit. Older-style farmhouses in the kolkhoz often accommodate extended families, including sons and their wives, who live in adjoining units around a courtyard. Contemporary apartments with several rooms frequently house a nuclear family, although relatives often live nearby.

Inheritance. Before collectivization, property was equally divided among the sons.

Socialization. Deference and respect are paid according to relative age-rank in the family. Female roles are confused by often conflicting influences of Islam (which traditionally favored isolation of women) and Soviet policy.


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