Kota - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. Each village comprises three exogamous divisions organized in three sets of house clusters called ke-rs. The clans do not extend beyond the village, though ke-r names may be common to several villages. Each ke-r shares a common ancestor, but only a few elders can recollect the relationships among the various families beyond two or three generations. Members of these ke-rs sometimes play specialized roles in ritual and compete against one another in ritual games. The ke-r as a spatiosocial entity is also highlighted in "green" and "dry" funerals (discussed later), where music and particular ceremonies are conducted while the corpse lies on a cot in the ke-r in which he or she lived. Although there is a strong connection between exogamous divisions and occupation of space in the village, some exceptions are possible. If space is a problem, sometimes a house is built in a ke-r other than a man's own; in this case the man still belongs to his natal division. The change in space does not alter his kin affiliations. Another system of kin groups revolves around the notion of family or kuyt. This classification seems to be largely defunct as a system of ritual differentiation except in a few villages—a situation further complicated by the fact that a kuyt size can range from a family of three or four members to the members of an entire ke-r. The head priests ( mundika-no-n ) and headmen ( gotga-rn ) usually belong to particular kuyts. Other principles of succession are less rigid.

Men belong to their father's ke-r, kuyt, and village; women, after marriage, belong to those of their husband.

Kinship Terminology. Kota kinship terminology, like most Dravidian systems, classifies relatives into those who are marriageable and those who are not. Because a father's brothers are classificatory fathers, the children of brothers cannot marry. Likewise the children of sisters cannot marry. Cross-cousin marriages, however, are common and indeed preferred. The following are a few Kota kinship terms of reference (sometimes kin are addressed by different terms): pe-ri-n —father's father, mother's father; pe-rav —father's mother, mother's mother; ayn —father, mother's sister's husband; av —mother, father's brother's wife; an —elder brother; kara-l —younger brother.


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