Karihona - Marriage and Family



Marriage. The norm was real or classificatory cross-cousin marriage; sister exchange was desirable. Intermarriage with other language groups, which is now so common, is said to be a new development (owing to population loss), although this practice is usual among neighboring Indians of the region. The practice is encouraged by the Catholic missionaries. While talking to the parents about marriage with their daughter, the fiancé is punched by his future father-in-law and insulted by his future mother-in-law to test his endurance. The son-in-law is required to reside uxorilocally and to work for his parents-in-law during their lifetime. According both to the recollections of the elders and the literary sources, localized patrisibs existed in former times; if true, this would mean that earlier on the bride-service lasted only for a restricted period. Polygynous marriage occurred among the Karihona. After the birth of a child, the father has to observe dietary restrictions and avoid all strenuous tasks for some time because of the interrelationship between him and the baby: every exertion made by the father means an analogous and dangerous exertion for the young child.

Socialization. Mothers devote much attention to small children; if a younger sibling is born, however, the previous child is quickly rejected and placed in the care of elder sisters or other persons. Girls start to help with household chores at an early age. Nowadays school attendance begins before the teens. At puberty, a girl was secluded in a hut apart from the communal house and had to live on a restricted diet. At the termination of this seclusion, she underwent an ordeal including the pulling out of her hair and whipping, among other things, in order to make her industrious. With the same intentions, young men were whipped after communal clearing of fields. For success in hunting and raiding, men had themselves stung by ants and wasps. Boys between about 12 and 15 to 17 years of age, before they started with lovemaking, were held to be the most successful hunters. Young people enjoyed their sexuality, restricted only by incest taboos. Married couples had to endure the jealousy of their partners. During menstruation and at childbirth (and for some weeks thereafter), women were secluded in a hut separated from the communal house in order not to harm the shamans.


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