Guajiro - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Marriage entails a bride-price ( apan'na ). The amount varies greatly according to the hierarchical position of the bride's lineage as well as her specific qualities (e.g., skillfulness in weaving and commerce, beauty). Matrimonial exchanges are generally limited to certain very limited circuits. Virginity is valued. It was long believed that the Guajiro adhered to a rule of matrilocal residence (a new couple living in the same miichipala as the bride's mother). No single rule, however, is strictly applied. A couple can change residence several times during a lifetime, the previous configuration corresponding to the most stable situation. For the majority of young couples, residence is initially uxori-matrilocal; then it can change several times, possibly to patrilocal (patri-uxorilocal or patrivirilocal) or neolocal. The coresidence of sisters and brothers is the next most common form. The choice of residence is the result of two processes: the mode of marriage and the logic of household formation. Polygyny is highly valued and characteristic of rich men.

Domestic Unit. An individual is affiliated with three distinct groups—two of kinship and one of residence. This explains the great mobility of Guajiro society. A common household consists of a cohabiting group of siblings.

Inheritance. Property is owned both by lineages and individuals. Men and women both possess their own animals. The animals of a dead man not sacrificed during his funeral are generally distributed to his brothers and uterine nephews, who often share their portions with their sisters. A woman's children inherit her livestock at her death. Maternal uncles usually offer animals to their nephews. A father can also give animals to his children, a tendency that has developed during the twentieth century. In fact, the transmission of property is a complex process, varying according to the status of the lineage involved.

Socialization. Children are raised in a rather permissive fashion, but they participate in economic activities at a very young age—little girls in household tasks, boys in tending the livestock. Pubescent girls were formerly subjected to a period of seclusion, which today is sometimes more symbolic than real.


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