Chin - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. Descent is agnatic, with Eponymous clans and lineages that tend to segment frequently: in general one finds maximal lineages and major and minor segments, the minor segment often being coextensive with the household. Often only the minimal lineage segment is strictly exogamous—and the rapidity of segmentation can often override even that proscription, so that marriage between even half-siblings is in parts of Chin State not necessarily penalized—though at least the legal fiction that clans are themselves exogamous is commonly maintained. Postnuptial residence is usually virilocal, and it is viripatrilocal in the case of the son who will inherit his parent's house. Daughters always marry out of the household and noninheriting sons marry neolocally. Although polygyny is allowed, it is generally confined to aristocrats who can afford a plurality of wives or who need more than one wife to manage their households and farms or who need to make various politically motivated marriage alliances. More commonly, one wife is thought to be quite enough, and it is the rare strong character who will have several wives in a single establishment—for the Chin believe that if the wives hate one another, their fights will make the husband's life miserable, and if they agree with one another, they'll combine against him. Besides, love matches occur frequently, and often they will override the common parental arrangements for marriages of state that engage couples from infancy. (For example, a girl may simply camp on the veranda of a young man who is too shy to ask for her hand.) Chin men often love their wives, and if a man refers to his wife as inn chung (the "inside of [the speaker's] house"), he is certainly fond of her and probably faithful to her. Also, marriage alliances are usually avoided because the ensuing obligations often cause men to be dominated by their wives or by the brothers of their wives.

Kinship Terminology. The terminology is bifurcate-merging, with an Omaha cousin terminology, consistent with asymmetric alliance marriage. The men of all generations in wife-taking lineages are classed with grandfathers, but in the wife-taking lineages only those agnatically descended from the original union linking the lineages are classed with grandchildren. Members of lineages other than one's own, who are not either wife givers or wife takers, are classed with one's own lineage agnates according to sex and generation. There are separate terms for younger siblings of the same sex as the speaker and for younger siblings of the opposite sex.

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