Zhuang - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Marriages are surname exogamous, and usually village exogamous as well. There is some preference for a boy to marry his mother's brother's daughter, whereas marriage with parallel cousins is forbidden. In the past there was also a preference for early engagements and for a girl to be five or six years older than her prospective groom. Perhaps because of the age difference, there was delayed transfer of the bride: after the marriage ceremony she remained with her parents, making frequent visits to her in-laws to assist with planting and harvest, but maintaining her social freedoms and natal residence until the birth of her first child. Only then did she move to her husband's village. Sinicized Zhuang utilize go-betweens, matching of horoscopes, sending of gifts to the girl's family, sending of a dowry, and the general patterns of Han marriage practice. However, older patterns or borrowings from neighboring ethnic groups also continue. Groups of unmarried boys visit to serenade eligible girls at their homes; there are singing parties for groups of unmarried youth (and those not yet living with their spouses); and there are other opportunities for young people to choose a spouse for themselves. In the past, there were "elopement" marriages, accepted by the family and community. Divorce is frowned upon, and if it occurs, fathers retain custody of their sons. Remarriage is permitted.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit is monogamous and nuclear except for youngest sons, who are obliged to live with their parents. Residence is generally patrilocal: about 20 percent of marriages bring the groom to the wife's village.

Inheritance. The youngest son inherits a larger share of the parental property. Both sons and daughters inherit movables, and also parental debts. In the absence of surviving offspring, other lineage members inherit.


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