Yi - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Yi marriages are usually monogamous. The marriage partner must be of the same rank and of a different patrilineage. Cross-cousin marriage is preferred, and marriage with parallel cousins prohibited. In the past, parents had the final say in the arrangement of a marriage even though young people had considerable social freedom compared to the Han population. It was common for the bride's family to ask for a heavy betrothal-price, particularly among the Black Yi. Delayed-transfer marriage was common, with the young bride remaining at her parental home until the first child was born. In some instances, ceremonial kidnapping of the bride was the custom. The groom's side would send people at a prearranged time to snatch the girl and carry her on horseback to the groom's house. The bride was expected to cry for help, and her family members and relatives would come to her aid, chasing after the kidnappers, but not in a serious fashion. A related custom was one in which the groom's emissaries would go to fetch the bride and would undergo a mock attack by the bride's relatives and friends who would throw water and ashes at them and beat them with cudgels. After this initial show of hostility, the groom's side would be treated to a feast of wine and meat and finally be allowed to take the bride away on horseback. Part of the wedding night would be spent in a ceremonial "fight" between the newly wed bride and groom.

Domestic Unit. Patriarchal, monogomous families were the basic units in the Liangshan Mountains. At marriage, sons would be set up in independent households of their own. In the occasional instances of polygynous families, each wife and her children had a household of their own, with the husband rotating visits between them.

Inheritance. Both sons and daughters could inherit, although women were disadvantaged compared to their brothers. The youngest son, who would continue to live with his parents after marriage, was privileged to inherit a larger portion of the family property. There were rigid differences between sons by a wife and those by a concubine: Property handed down from the ancestors usually went only to the former. Among the Black Yi, if a man died without issue his property would be received by his full brothers and his widow would be married to one of his kinsmen. Women received part of their inheritance as dowry at marriage, and dowry goods might include livestock and, in the case of the Black Yi, slaves.

Socialization. Children were treated indulgently and learned about their roles and tasks in the daily life of the family and the community through oral transmission and example. In the past, the aristocratic class paid much attention to the training of their sons, especially in physical training, horsemanship, and handling of weapons. Customary laws and moral standards were also taught at an early age, and youngsters were expected to learn their clan genealogies by heart. For Black Yi this meant knowing some twenty generations or more. Even today, White Yi know the details of their ancestry for seven or eight generations. There was a special coming-of-age ceremony for girls at the ages of 15 or 17, known as the "Change Skirt" ceremony. Odd numbers were considered lucky. During the ceremony, the girl changed into long colorful skirts, and her hair style changed from a single plait into double plaits looped behind each ear. She also received earrings.

Also read article about Yi from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: