Suruí - Marriage and Family

Marriage. The Suruí continue to practice polygyny. The preference is for a man to marry his sister's daughter; cross-cousin marriage is also recommended. The couple usually resides with the wife's father (i.e., the husband's maternal uncle) at the beginning; later on, they reside and work with the husband's brothers. Incest between brother and sister is considered the worst offense against the Suruí moral norms. With few exceptions, any children born of such incest must be killed.

Domestic Unit. A group of brothers with their wives and children live together in the same longhouse ( maloca ), usually with their father-in-law, who is also their maternal uncle. This is the basic nucleus for cooperative work on the land.

Inheritance. The deceased are buried along with all their belongings, and their dwelling is abandoned. Only the shaman's sacred staff seems to be inherited.

Socialization. The life of a Suruí is marked by rites of passage and confinement in small isolated huts, which are specially built for this purpose. During the menarche, after childbirth, when someone dies, during menstruation, or during any sickness, a woman must be kept in isolation, subjected to eating taboos, and protected from exposure to daylight. The men are also confined on certain occasions. If confinement rules are violated, the entire community is endangered and newborns may die as a result, according to Suruí beliefs. The very presence of a newborn is considered dangerous for anyone who is not a close relative. Rituals for warrior initiation and facial tattooing to mark the passage of both males and females into adulthood have been discontinued since contact with Whites.

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