Canelos Quichua - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage is about a three-year process; monogamy is the norm. From the male perspective it is warmiyuj (to possess a woman); from the female perspective it is cariyuj (to possess a man). Marriage may result from romantic love and elopement, but preferably it occurs through highly structured exchanges of sons and daughters arranged by parents and even grandparents. In Canelos and Pacayacu, and formerly in Puyo, a visiting friar or priest would marry couples in traditional ceremonies controlled by the clergy. Many couples throughout the area marry in traditional ceremonies without clergy. Some couples register their marriage at a civil registry, and some couples marry in the church in Puyo. Divorce prior to "legal" marriage involves undoing all of the structured consanguineal and affinal ties constructed during the new incorporation of the couple into the minimal kindred and territorial clan and involves great acrimony on the part of many relatives and neighbors. Formal divorce by use of lawyers is rare and expensive and engenders great and lasting hostility between rival kin groups. There is a strong kinship idiom in marriage ideology. Men and women try to marry so as to perpetuate their own male and female inherited and acquired soul and body substances coming to them, in a parallel manner, from the times of the grandparents.

Domestic Unit. The Canelos Quichua traditional house is distinct from the house forms and symbolisms of Shuar and Achuar Jivaroans and of Zaparoans. Until the early 1980s traditional large oval houses with three-generation patrilocal extended families, many of which included Achuar sons-in-law (the Achuar are uxorilocal except for the families of the "great men" or shamans), were characteristic. As of the mid-1980s colonist-style rectangular houses are rapidly replacing the large traditional open-sided dwellings that were oriented on cardinal axes with virtually every portion a representation of cosmic order, but the latter still exist.

Inheritance. The spouse of the deceased inherits all of his or her property, including land. Transmission of property, except land, from a parent to siblings is idiosyncratic. Land is distributed by the rule that the youngest son of a deceased parent inherits land not already distributed, and the oldest daughter of a deceased parent inherits land not already distributed.

Socialization. Socialization practices are geared to the basic male/female division of labor, to the stress on acquisition of knowledge through many sources, and to learning to live successfully within their special environment. Permissiveness in breast feeding, elimination, and exposure to adult experiences is tempered by immediate, unequivocal reprimands, usually verbal, and sometimes reinforced physically, for transgressions such as an older sibling hitting a younger one. Children are loved and valued, and affection is lavished on babies and toddlers by men as well as women. The ability to sustain hard work intelligently in a very harsh environment is taught in myriad ways.

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