Matsigenka - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Some marriages are arranged at an early age, although in communities with schools it is more common for girls to marry after puberty. Everyone on Ego's generation is either a sibling or a cross cousin, with prescriptive cross-cousin marriage. The system favors a pattern of two families intermarrying over time and living together in the same hamlet or vicinity. Demographics often falling short of this ideal, unmarried individuals of both sexes must visit other settlements seeking mates. Marriage is initiated when each partner addresses the prospective spouse's relatives as "in-laws" and the male assumes bride-service responsibilities.

Domestic Unit. The typical domestic unit is a nuclear family household in a 5-by-10 meter house, situated in a clearing either alone or near other households in a hamlet. In the small number of cases of polygyny, each wife has a separate hearth at her own end of the house, which is considered her living space. Co-wives are cordial but separate: they tend to manage their own food supplies, rear their own children, and control the distribution of the products of their own labor. Single relatives, including widowed elders, may live in the household as additional members, but not with their own hearth. Households of more than one married couple are temporary arrangements occasioned by death, divorce, or migration into a new area.

Inheritance. Generally, property is not inherited. Durable valuables, such as an axe or a mirror, may be passed on from mother to daughter or father to son.

Socialization. Infants are fed on demand and coddled and enjoyed. Discipline after 1 year of age is by verbal reprimand and the rarely enforced threat of corporal punishment. Weaning is between 3 and 4 years of age and is loudly protested by the child, but parents do not relent. After age 5, children gradually acquire adult, gender-appropriate behaviors. Scolding is common, but the process is gentle and gradual.


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