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Modes of Acquiring a Spouse

Index to Marriage and Kinship / Descent

In the News . . .

Google Search: Society > Ethnicity >

Arranged marriage -- Wikipedia
Courtship -- Wikipedia
Elopement -- Wikipedia
Bride Price -- Wikipedia
Bride Kidnapping -- Wikipedia

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  • Acquiring a wife by bridewealth
    ("bride price," "progeny price")

    Bride Price -- Wikipedia


    • occurs in almost one-half of the World Ethnographic Sample (HRAF)

    • Arranged Marriages often involve bridewealth . . .

    • Bride Wealth -- Brian Schwimmer

        Rom (

        "Gypsy bride Narcisa Tranca, 15, walks with relatives and friends during her wedding in May."

        "[Narcisa's] parents reached a deal with Marin's family, a clan of prosperous horse traders: $2,000 for Narcisa."

        "With the blessing of both households, a cousin brought Marin to meet Narcisa seven months ago. Until the wedding, the two saw each other briefly just four times."

        Michelle Kelso, Voluntari, Romania, AP, 6/28/2003

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      UMD Graduate meets his arranged bride at wedding ceremony. UMD Graduate meets his bride
      at their wedding ceremony in India.
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Nuer Bridewealth

Bride Price -- Wikipedia

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    Source: E. Adamson Hoebel, Anthropology: The Study of Man, 4th ed. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1972. p. 347 - 349.

kinds of descent groups

Nuer segmentary lineage

multiple maximal lineages

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Nuer Distribution of 40 Cattle in Bride Price:

      1. Primary Family of the Bride (20)

      father of the bride

      8 head:

      3 cows and their 3 calves
      2 oxen

      brother of another mother

      2 cows

      brother of the same mother

      7 head:

      2 oxen
      3 cows
      1 cow and its 1 calf

      mother

      1 cow and its 1 calf
      1 heifer

      1. Siblings of the Bride's Father (10)

      bride's father's eldest brother by the same mother

      4 head:

      1 cow and its 1 calf
      1 calf
      1 ox

      bride's father's youngest brother by the same mother

      1 cow
      1 ox

      bride's father's sister

      1 heifer

      bride's father's brother by a different mother

      1 cow and its calf
      1 ox

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      1. Siblings of the Bride's Mother (10)

      mother's eldest brother by the same mother

      4 head:

      1 cow and its 1 calf
      1 ox
      1 cow

      bride's mother's youngest brother by the same mother

      1 cow and its 1 calf

      bride's mother's sister

      1 heifer

      bride's mother's brother through a different mother

      1 cow and its 1 calf
      1 ox

    Other people as far back as six or seven generations may claim a small symbolic gift from the groom.

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Acquiring a wife by suitor service

 

    • a substitute or equivalent of progeny price, in which the potential groom works for his intended bride's kin

    • e.g., Jacob worked 7 years for Rachel, plus 7 for Lea who was not part of the bargain

Source: E. Adamson Hoebel, Anthropology: The Study of Man, 4th ed. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1972. p. 407.

 

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  • Acquiring a wife by gift exchange

    • frequent with bilateral descent

    • equivalent exchanges of gifts between the families are an alternative possibility

    • e.g., Cheyenne

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  • Acquiring a wife by inheritance

    • levirate -- marriage of a woman to her brother-in-law

      • most common affinal marriage form among the peoples of the world

      • Levirate Marriage -- Brian Schwimmer

    • sororate

      • husband married his deceased wife's sister

      • widely distributed throughout the world

      • is not sororal polygyny where the man takes the younger sister of his wife when she becomes of age

    • extended affinal marriages

      • marriage of a man to his wife's brother's daughter

        • in patrilineal societies

      • marriage of a woman to her father's sister's husband

        • in patrilineal societies

      • marriage of a woman to her husband's sister's son

        • in matrilineal societies

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  • Acquiring a wife by elopement

    Elopement -- Wikipedia

    • generally is a safety valve

    • provides an acceptable form to deviate from custom

    • occurs in every known society

    • difficult to generalize

      • can be validated by gift exchange and / or the birth of a child

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  • Acquiring a wife by adoption

    • in Indonesia and Japan it was possible for a man to obtain a wife by being adopted into her family

    • is a device where a patrilineally organized family may maintain its line where there are no sons

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  • Dowry (also known as trousseau)

    • the money, goods, property, or material goods that a woman brings to her husband in marriage

    • Dowry -- Wikipedia
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