Rikbaktsa - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Marriage is between moieties. During the 1970s there were some incestuous marriages among the members of the same moiety, partly because of the drastic population loss after contact and partly brought about by the Jesuits' interference with traditional Rikbaktsa marriage rules. Since the 1980s the Rikbaktsa have adhered firmly to traditional practices. The preferred form of marriage is between cross cousins. Residence is uxorilocal. The norm is monogamy, but polygyny is permitted and occasionally practiced. The marriage ceremony is quite informal. After agreement has been reached between the parents of the pair, the village chief removes the bridegroom's hammock from his house (or from the makyry) and ties it next to that of his wife in his father-in-law's house. The bridegroom will live with his in-laws during the first years of his marriage and later move to live near his married brothers. Divorce is common, especially during the first months of marriage, and is easily obtained by either of the two partners.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit is the extended family.

Inheritance. All the goods of the deceased are burned and destroyed after death.

Socialization. Children accompany their parents, helping them with their tasks. They become familiar with the forest and its resources and secrets through shared living and teachings transmitted by myths told by the oldest men of the local group. Of the traditional rites of passage, only boys' ear piercing remains. This is performed during a large feast at the end of the ritual cycle that accompanies land clearing. Formerly girls' faces and boys' chests were tattooed in a rite of passage leading to adulthood. This was followed by a period of ritual seclusion, which could last over a month and during which they could not be exposed to sunshine or seen by anyone who was not a very close relative. Reclusion, tattooing, and boys' use of earplugs (some old men wear light wooden ones 15 centimeters in diameter) were abandoned after contact. Traditionally, after reaching the age of 12, boys lived in the makyry, where their education was completed by a mentor. Nowadays they live with their parents until they marry and then move to the home of their father-in-law, who serves as their tutor.


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