Abor - Kinship, Marriage and Family



Kin Groups and Descent. Descent is patrilineal. Each of the constituent Abor groups traces its descent from a single mythical ancestor and is composed of a number of clans. These clans are divided into various subclans (groups of families that are the basic Abor social unit). Clan exogamy, strictly adhered to at one time, has become less the norm for the Abor due to population increase and dispersion. Subclans, however, have remained strictly exogamous. Larger divisions may exist between the clan and group levels (e.g., among the Minyong, who are divided into two moieties).


Marriage. Monogamous unions are the norm, though polygyny is also practiced. Divorce is frequent and easily obtainable. Premarital sexual exploration is encouraged. Freedom of choice in mate selection is the norm, but parentally arranged marriages also occur. Postmarital residence does not fall neatly into any category, but it seems to be bilocal (the newly married couple settling with the parents of either the bride or the groom) in the beginning of the union and neolocal after the birth of the first child. In some cases, the youngest son of a family may remain in the home of his father along with his wife and children.


Domestic Unit. The typical unit is made up of a husband and wife, together with their children. However, a number of variations in basic Minyong family composition have been noted. Absolute authority resides with the male head of the household. Joint families are rare because the allegiance of male and female offspring is transferred, first to the male and female dormitories, then to their own families, as the life cycle progresses. While monogamous unions are the Abor norm, polygynous arrangements are known. Consequently, households with cowives are not rare.


Inheritance. The inheritance of all property descends through the male line. Sons share equally in the real property (land) of their father's estate. The same is true of the family house, though the youngest son inherits his father's house if he has chosen not to establish his own residence after marriage. The care of the father's widow is the responsibility of the youngest son. All other property owned by the father—such as beads inherited from his father, implements used in hunting and warfare, and clothing woven for him by his wife—is divided equally among his sons. Some of his personal effects (though none of real value) are used to decorate his grave. Ornaments that a woman brings with her into a Marriage and those given to her by her husband remain hers and are inherited by her daughters and daughters-in-law.


Socialization. The chief agents of socialization are a child's parents, the moshup (men's dormitory), and the rasheng (women's dormitory). In the home, gender-specific roles and responsibilities are introduced by the parents, and children spend their days engaged in household and subsistence activities. After a child is able to crawl, it is placed under the care of its elder siblings. Once the child has reached adolescence, responsibility for socialization shifts to the moshup and rasheng, where children spend evenings after their round of daily domestic chores is over. The dormitories serve as the training ground for men and women until they are married and are able to establish their own households.

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