Burusho - Kinship, Marriage and Family

Kinship. The Burusho population contains four major clans and several minor ones. The major clans are centered on the city of Baltit while the minor clans are dispersed in other settlements. Mixed marriages (i.e., between the Burusho and other ethnic groups) are rare. Patrilineal descent is the norm. Hawaiian-type kin terms for first cousins are used.

Marriage. The practice of child marriage does not obtain among the Burusho. The average marital age is 16 years of age for a female and 18 years of age for a male. The marriage of first cousins is avoided but not prohibited. Bride-price varies with social class. Marriages are held once each year (usually on 21 December when snow is on the ground) and the ceremony is performed in the house of the bride's father. In theory, parents have complete authority in the mate selection for their children. In practice, however, the will of the male and female to be wed is ascertained before the marriage is arranged. A man and woman will not be wed against their will. Divorce is allowed but is difficult to obtain. Divorce is granted to a man only on the grounds of adultery. A wife may not divorce her husband. She may appeal to the mir to have her husband divorce her. Children remain with the mother (until they reach the age of 10) if a divorce is granted. During this time, the husband is required to provide child support. Widows must wait three months and seven days after the death of a spouse before remarrying. The wait for a widower is two months and seven days. Polygyny is not prohibited.

Domestic Unit. Small extended families (the procreated family of one individual in the senior generation and those of at least two in the next generation) with limited polygyny are the norm.

Inheritance . The father of a family owns all of the family property. He may choose to divide his property among his off-spring before his death or it may be divided after he dies. Upon his death, his estate is divided equally among his sons. Sons may choose to work any land inherited together (i.e., as a group) or they may divide it among themselves. Sons by second wives inherit a grandson's share. The youngest son inherits the family dwelling. Provision is usually made so that the eldest son inherits the best land. A daughter is not permitted to inherit property. She may be allowed the use of certain property during her lifetime. Unmarried daughters must be cared for (including the provision of a dowry) by the estate of a deceased father. Apricot trees (and their produce) are often willed to daughters.

Socialization. The socialization of children is a responsibility shared by both parents, with the bulk of it being assumed by the mother. Siblings also share in this task. In 1934, a public school system was donated and put into place by the Aga Khan, thus placing part of the burden for child rearing on teachers.

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