Warao - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Marriage is endogamous in relation to the local group, based on descent from one or several common ancestors ( ahokonamu ), but exogamous to the domestic unit. Residence is uxori-matrilocal with the young son-inlaw moving into his mother-in-law's house, which is as close to the household of origin as possible. A prestigious head of a domestic unit may take a second wife by marrying his principal wife's "assistant" ( atekoro ), usually her brother's daughter, but polygynous marriages also come about by default, as when a man marries his wife's widowed sister. After a number of early trial unions, couples with several children are extremely stable and divorce is infrequent. A widowed man moves to another domestic unit, but must leave his children behind; they are brought up by a foster parent ( aidatu ), generally a maternal grandfather.

Socialization. Children are taught by example rather than through formai instruction. Religious practitioners such as shamans and those who aspire to be expert boat builders serve apprenticeships. Both parents show affection to infants, but older siblings frequently take charge of routine child care. Role behavior, however, is learned from the same-sex parent. An important point in a child's life is when "consciousness strikes" at about the age of 4 and the individual is counted as a "human being." Life passages are marked by natural events such as menarche, when, at a special ceremony, a girl passes from anibaka to nubile young woman, iboma . and at the birth of the first or second child from iboma to adult woman, tida.


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