Bengali - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. The commonest kin group in rural Bengal is the homestead-based patrilineal extended family, whose members jointly own homestead land and may—but usually do not—also own agricultural land in Common. The homestead is typically composed of a senior male head, his married sons with their families, unmarried children and grandchildren, and other dependents.

Kinship Terminology. In conventional classifications, the Bengali kinship terminology is of the bifurcate collateral type in terms of first ascending generation terminology, and it is of the Sudanese type from the point of view of cousin terminology. Thus, each of Ego's parental siblings is denoted by a separate term, and so therefore is each parental sibling's child
(i.e., "cousin" in English terms). In this respect, Bengali terminology does not differ from that found across north India and the Middle East. Although both Bengali Hindu and Bengali Muslim terminologies share the same pattern, Muslims employ seven kinship terms that are found in Urdu and in several cases are actually derived from Arabic and Persian, all of which languages are distinctively identified with Islamic rather than Hindu civilization. (Recent discussions of Bengali kinship, however, suggest that the conventional anthropological classification system has limited utility for understanding the basic cultural categories of kinship in Bengali culture.)


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