Toda - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. The typically Dravidian classificatory system operates independently of any particular Society's descent system. In the Toda case, it is found together with double-unilineal descent, for these people have a full-fledged patrilineal and matrilineal descent system, such that each Toda has both patrician and matriclan membership, each one being exogamous.

Kinship Terminology. The Toda kinship system follows the classificatory principles common to most Dravidian-speaking peoples. Most importantly, a parent's siblings of the same sex as one's parent are classified as "parents"; those of opposite sex are termed "uncles" and "aunts" and belong to a completely different category of relative. The offspring of one's actual and classificatory parents are his or her siblings; marriage or sexual relations would then be incestuous. The children of uncles and aunts are "cousins," who are preferred marriage partners. All children of one's same-sex siblings, actual or classificatory, are classificatory children, a large category. A more restricted category in this first descending Generation is that of the actual offspring of one's actual siblings of the opposite sex, the "nephews" and "nieces," who are the preferred spouses for Ego's own children. The Toda system thus distinguishes in three crucial generations two very Different categories of relatives: parents, siblings, and children constitute the kin group, while uncles and aunts, cousins, and nephews and nieces (potential parents-in-law, spouses, and children's spouses) are the affinal or, more strictly, "potentially affinal" group.


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