Saraguro - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Both men and women may marry at age 17. First-cousin marriage, especially among cross cousins, is permissible and sometimes viewed as advantageous. Parents express a clear preference for barrio endogamy, although barrio exogamy is tolerated. Despite the mild disapproval of premarital sexual activity, many Saraguro women are pregnant at the time of marriage and some bear several children before marrying. Courtship is usually conducted in secret, although interactions between cousins tend to be less formal. Patrilocal residence predominated in traditional times, but residence has become highly flexible and most contemporary couples express a preference for neolocality. The Saraguro are monogamous. Although divorce and abandonment draw criticism, they are not uncommon.

Domestic Unit. Small extended (three-generation) families are the predominant residential and economic unit, although wealthier families with large holdings often reside in separate nuclear-family houses.

Inheritance. Property is commonly left to offspring who remained in the natal household to care for their parents. Sons and daughters inherit equally, and parents who can afford to do so purchase land for married offspring. Daughters inherit silver jewelry and other heirlooms from mothers and grandmothers.

Socialization. Offspring are raised in a relatively permissive atmosphere. Acculturation is informal and based on observation, imitation, and correction. Corporal punishment and physical force are rarely employed. By age 5 children begin to assist their parents in gender-appropriate tasks. Since the 1970s Saraguro children have been required to attend primary and secondary school, and a growing number pursue university education in larger Ecuadoran cities.

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