Yuqui - Marriage and Family



Marriage. The Yuqui are monogamous, but marriage can be unstable and it is common for both men and women to have pre- and extramarital affairs. In the past a marriage occurred when a man asked a woman's mother to make him a hammock. If she accepted, the completion of the hammock and its occupancy by the new couple signified that they were married. While the hammock was being made, the future mother-in-law could request meat and other favors from her future son-in-law, thus protracting the completion of the marriage hammock. Divorce was effected by one or the other spouse abandoning the conjugal hammock and taking up residence with someone else. As a result of mission influence, marriages are now much more stable, and there is somewhat less sexual activity outside of marriage.

Domestic Unit. The tendency was for a man to hang the conjugal hammock near his father's, suggesting patrilocality; in reality, this pattern varied a great deal since everyone slept in a single compact group, and social relations were constantly shifting, resulting in different arrangements of hammocks.

Missionary influence and sedentarism has created separate, nuclear-family households with permanent structures for individual families and marriages that are formally acknowledged with a Christian ceremony. Premarital sex is still common and usually precedes a marriage announcement. If a newlywed couple has not constructed a house before marriage, they will reside with either the bride's or groom's parents or other family members until they have their own home. Again, the man will prefer to live with his family or orientation; but since the Yuqui are all closely related, virtually any household offers residence with close kin.

Inheritance. Prior to contact, inheritance had little meaning to the Yuqui because there was virtually no property involved. At death, a person's belongings were discarded or destroyed. A young man might at most ask to keep an arrow or some other possession to remember his deceased father. Generally, possessions of the dead were avoided out of respect and fear of the deceased's spirit, including even hunting trails or fishing ponds that may have been frequented by the deceased. Today the Yuqui have many more items of value: clothing, knives, axes, shotguns, and other purchased articles. There is consequently less willingness among relatives to destroy these items; they are usually kept and then distributed by close family members to other kin who may request them.

Socialization. Children are indulged when very young and then given much less attention as they grow older and other children are born. By about age 4, they are expected to take on adult responsibility and may be left for long periods, two or three days at a time, to fend for themselves while their parents are off on a hunting trip. They begin to hunt, fish, and gather early, and not to expect to share their take with anyone. When children misbehave they are frequently struck by a parent or relative, with the hand or with any object within close range. A sharp word will also curb unacceptable behavior. It is not uncommon for Yuqui children to talk back to their parents or to tell them exactly how they feel at any given moment. This may be ignored, laughed at, or punished, depending on the mood of the parent.

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