Mataco - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The formation of a matrimony extends over considerable time, and the couple may follow any of the following procedures. According to the Mataco codex, discussions should precede initiatives toward sexual liaisons, and these should be followed by a phase of trials. Only thereafter do the parents celebrate the wedding or consider the couple to be married. Another, and nowadays more common, alternative is to escape for some time after the first, passionate encounter. The period away from home is equivalent to the trial, and if the liaison proves to be durable, the couple is regarded as "married" upon returning to the original community. Marriage should be followed by bride-service until the first child is born. After the initial, uxorilocal residence, the couple may move to any place they wish. Divorce is fairly frequent, especially among those contracting marriage at an early age.

Domestic Unit. The basic socioeconomic unit is the extended family, which lives in a single or several adjacent huts. It may be constituted by one or two pots, but is characterized by generalized reciprocity and close cooperation in all socioeconomic activities.

Inheritance. There is no inheritance among the Mataco. When a person dies, his or her property is destroyed.

Socialization. Children are supposed to learn through imitation and instruction, not by correction or punishment. An increasing percentage of them now attend primary school. Until the 1980s, however, no Mataco had ever gone beyond secondary school.

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