Piaroa - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The ideal marriage is between bilateral cross cousins who reside in the same house. An endogamous match cannot always be made, however, and marriages between distant classificatory cross cousins are sometimes arranged to form political alliances between families. A rule of initial uxorilocality obligates a groom to pay bride-service to his father-in-law until at least the birth of the first child, although this requirement may be waived in the case of a groom who is the son (and apprentice) of a prominent religious leader. In the past polygyny and divorce occurred occasionally; polygyny has almost disappeared today under Christian influence, but the incidence of divorce is increasing.

Domestic Unit. Extended families typically comprise the households, but the main unit of productive and reproductive importance is the nuclear family. Within the house each nuclear family has its own cooking fire and designated space along the house wall. A man may also move his family to another community.

Inheritance. Favorite personal possessions were traditionally buried with the deceased owners, but nowadays close relatives often divide the belongings of their dead among themselves.

Socialization. Children are disciplined verbally but rarely with physical punishment. Posttoddlers play in packs until the age of 8 or 9 years, when they begin to accompany older youth and adults in daily rounds. In the acculturated communities, youths from 8 to 15 years of age attend a rural school (ranging from the first to the sixth grades) for half-day sessions. They learn Spanish-language literacy skills and Venezuelan culture.

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