Mundurucu - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Marriage is regulated by a moiety system, which groups each clan into the "red" moiety or the "white" moiety. A man or woman is expected to select a spouse from the opposite moiety. Typically, a young man leaves his village to visit other Mundurucu villages in search of an eligible mate of the correct moiety. If a man and woman decide to marry, he brings fish or game to her and moves into her family's household. Exceptions are sons of headmen, who bring their wives to their father's villages. Formerly, this alone constituted marriage but, between 1979 and 1981, it was also common practice for Mundurucu couples to be married by the Franciscan priests or by the Baptist missionary. Divorce is simple; either the wife leaves her village and returns with another man, or the husband abandons his wife and her village. In both cases, the community recognizes the divorce.

Domestic Unit. The married couple usually lives in the wife's family's household with her parents, her sisters, her brothers-in-law, her sisters' children, and her unmarried brothers. The household has a strong core of related women.

Inheritance. The personal property of the deceased is burned. Large or expensive items including canoes, tables, stoves, rifles, and sewing machines belong to the household rather than to the deceased and are not destroyed.

Socialization. Girls work with their mothers and other women of the household in tending gardens, processing manioc flour, cooking, washing clothes, and other female tasks. Boys are free, for the most part, to play in the woods, to hunt with toy bows and arrows, and to fish with hooks and lines. They have few responsibilities until they marry.


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