random notes: 06/07/14

here’re some random notes on the history of mating patterns in korea!:

from Marriage, Social Status, and Family Succession in Medieval Korea (Thirteenth-Fifteenth Centuries) [pg. 133 – links added by me]:

“Marriage between those with the same surname and the same family origin was prohibited by law since the early Koryô Dynasty [918–1392]. Prohibition orders were issued twelve times throughout the Koryô Dynasty. It was the goal to expand the range of prohibited marriages from a first cousin in 1058 to a second cousin in 1096. Marriage among those with the same surnames was also prohibited in 1309. Because of the prohibition order in 1309, intermarriage between Kwôn families decreased rapidly from about 35 percent to less than 5 percent in the mid-fourteenth century (Figure 4).

“There were, however, cases of marriage between those with the same surname and the same family origin, even up to the Chosôn Dynasty [1392–1897]. In the years 1606 and 1630, in the Saneum Household Register, intermarriage was recorded at 5.9 percent and 5.8 percent respectively.”

so, first cousin marriage was banned in 1058, second cousin marriage in 1096, and marriage to all cousins from the patriclan in 1309. however, note that the first and second cousin marriage bans were also cousins from the patriclan, so marriages to the mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) or father’s sister’s daughter (fzd), neither of whom would share a male ego’s surname, were still permitted — and were practiced. (mbd marriage is quite typical for east asia, especially in china traditionally.)

the dates of the bans on cousin marriage are a few hundred years after northwest europe — ca. 500 a.d. versus ca. 1000 ad. plus, of course, the catholic church in europe banned marriage to all forms of cousins, not just those of the same patriclan. the rates of cousin marriage in the 1600s in korea are very low — not much higher than, say, the upper classes in england in the nineteenth century — but, again, marriages to the mbd or fzd are not included in these figures.

from Forbidden Relatives: The American Myth of Cousin Marriage [pg. 10]:

“In Korea, for example, traditional matrimonial rules forbid marriage between a man and a type of second cousin (the daughter of his grandfather’s brother’s son’s daughter) but allow a man to wed a kind of first cousin (the daughter of his mother’s brother).”

this is, of course, because the second cousin is from the patriclan (shares the same surname as the man), whereas the first cousin is not.

and from Voices of Foreign Brides: The Roots and Development of Multiculturalism in Korea [pgs. 28 and 171 – links added by me]:

“Historically, most Korean dynasties imposed the incest taboo. In Koguryo (37 BC to AD 668) and Paekche (18 BC to AD 660), marriage within the same lineage (or clan) was prohibited, while Silla (57 BC to AD 935) encouraged close kin marriages beyond the third degree of relationship (beyond uncle and aunt) and with members of the same clan, especially among royal and upper-class families. In the early dynastic period, Koguryo followed the Silla system, allowing close kin marriage even within a two-degree relationship (even brother and sister, if the mothers were different) in royal families as an effort to maintain the ‘same blood’ and protect the purity of the royal blood line. In fact, King T’aejo of the Koguryo dynasty encouraged close-kin marriage.”

so before the bans of ca. 1000 a.d. mentioned above, close cousin marriage of all sorts was present in large parts of the korean peninsula.

“The prohibition of marriage between members of the same lineage or clan…. This taboo rule had come into being in the Choson dynasty after the adoption of Ta Ming Lu (Law of the Great Ming), the comprehensive body of administrative and criminal law of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) of China.”

i think the law of the great ming was adopted in korea around 1397 [pg. 21], although the source above says that marriage within the patriclan was banned in 1309.

“Nevertheless, *yangban* [members of the ruling class – h.chick] in many cases ignored the rule and continued to marry matrilineal cousins (siblings of a mother’s sisters and father’s sisters).”

well, that shouldn’t have been a problem, since those cousins do not have the same surname/are not part of the patriclan.

“In Korea, unlike China, several different clans may share one *song*, and clans with different surnames may share a *pon*, in which case the rule of clan exogamy is applied…. Under this rule, some clans with millions of members have been prohibited from intermarrying….”

again, this is the patriclan. some footnotes from Voices of Foreign Brides:

“13. Kim, Kimchi and IT, p. 113. And rules regulating marriage customs, specifically those prohibiting marriage between close relatives, were first initiated by the tenth king of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392), Chongjong (1034-1046). During his reign, the children of close kin marriages could not be appointed to government positions. Nevertheless, such a prohibition mainly had an impact on upper-class nobility and not commoners. Some believe that such a rule reflected the influence of China, but others disagree. If Koryo was either forced to initiate or willingly adopted the Chinese system, the incest taboo might have extended to entire surname groups as in China. Instead, Koryo merely imposed a prohibition of marriage between close relatives (ibid.; Lee, Han’guk kajok-ui sajok yon gu, pp. 64-65).

“14. Martina Deuchler offers an explanation for the adoption of this law (Martina Deuchler, “The Tradition: Women during the Yi dynasty,” in Virtues in Conflict: Tradition and the Korean Women Today, Sandra Mattielli, ed., pp. 1-47 [Seoul: The Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch, 1977], p. 4). The Choson literati-official (*sadaebu*) became aware that indigenous Choson customs often stood in the way of implementing reform policies, which could not be carried out successfully without legal sanctions (Kim, Kimchi and IT, p. 113). The adoption of the Ta Ming Lu was therefore an introduction of the rule of law to supplement the rule of goodness. However, Choson interpreted the entire Ta Ming Lu so literally that lineage and clan exogamy, the rule of marriage that requires a person to marry outside his or her own group, was institutionalized in Korea….

“16. In July 1977, however, the constitutional Court of Korea handed down a landmark decision ruling that prohibition of marriage between clan members beyond eight-degree relationships (third cousins) was unconstitutional. Since then, clan members whose kinship was beyond eight degrees could marry legitimately, and family registries could issue marriage licenses for such couples…. A court ruling handed down on February 3, 2005, followed by the passage of a new statute on March 2, 2005, changed the system of giving surnames. This is turn has altered clan exogamy.”

(note: comments do not require an email. traditional korean dress. the friggin’ BEST traditional dresses in ANY culture! (^_^))


the philippine government has just signed a peace agreement with some of the muslim rebels — the moro islamic liberation front or (heh) milf (think someone should tell them?) — from the island of mindanao. which is good news, of course — if the peace holds. however, most of the people on mindanao are, apparently, not as worried about the sectarian violence on the island as they are about “rido”:

Rido, or feuding between families and clans, is a type of conflict centered in the Philippine region of Mindanao, and is characterized by sporadic outbursts of retaliatory violence between families and kinship groups, as well as between communities. … ‘Rido’ is a Maranao term commonly used in Mindanao to refer to clan feuds. It is considered one of the major problems in Mindanao because apart from numerous casualties, rido has caused destruction of property, crippled the local economy, and displaced families….

“There is a widely held stereotype that the violence is perpetrated by armed groups that resort to terrorism to further their political goals, but the actual situation is far more complex. While the Muslim-Christian conflict and the state-rebel conflicts dominate popular perceptions and media attention, a survey commissioned by The Asia Foundation in 2002 and further verified by a recent Social Weather Stations survey revealed that citizens are more concerned about the prevalence of rido and its negative impact on their communities than the conflict between the state and rebel groups….

“Studies on rido have documented a total of 1,266 rido cases between the 1930s and 2005, which have killed over 5,500 people and displaced thousands. The four provinces with the highest numbers of rido incidences are: Lanao del Sur (377), Maguindanao (218), Lanao del Norte (164), and Sulu (145). Incidences in these four provinces account for 71% of the total documented cases. The findings also show a steady rise in rido conflicts in the eleven provinces surveyed from the 1980s to 2004. According to the studies, during 2002-2004, 50% (637 cases) of total rido incidences occurred, equaling about 127 new rido cases per year. Out of the total number of rido cases documented, 64% remain unresolved….”

the population of mindanao is comprised of the moro peoples, some of whom are muslim, but others of whom are christians — but members of BOTH religions engage in rido, so this fighting between clans is not just a muslim thing.

mindanao is a very mountainous island, so if westermeyer is right, we should expect to find a lot of inbreeding amongst the moro (which could account for all the clannishness).

those moro folks that are roman catholic ought not to be marrying first cousins, of course, but who knows (i don’t) if they marry second or third cousins. in fact, nobody nowadays in the philippines should be marrying first cousins because it’s against the law (“up to the fourth civil degree”), but…

“Philippine Muslims very seldom registered births or marriages with governmental agencies.” [pg. 213]

…perhaps to get around the marriage restrictions (given that islam kinda/sorta encourages first cousin marriage — in an indirect way since mohammed married one of his cousins).

i haven’t found any info on how much cousin marriage happens in the moro muslim (or christian) populations, but one of the leading moro muslim political families, the sinsuat family, is “remarkable for the frequency of cousin marriage” [pg. 309], so that might — might — be an indication that cousin marriage is, indeed, common on mindanao. i would bet it has a long history there, too — thus the clannishness.

and clannishness in the philippines doesn’t seem to be restricted to mindanao:

“The Philippine political arena, unlike other democracies, is mainly arranged and operated by families or alliances of families rather than political parties.”

hmmmmm. not very surpising, then, to find books about the philippines titled: An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines.

previously: this one’s for g.w. and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

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clannish dysgenics

here’s another example of potential clannish dysgenics — from Studies on the Population of China, 1368-1953 [pg. 205]:

“[T]he lack of primogeniture and the working of the clan system proved to be great leveling factors in the Chinese economy. The virtue of sharing one’s wealth with one’s immediate and remote kinsmen had been so highly extolled since the rise of Neo-Confucianism in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that few wealthy men in traditional China could escpae the influence of this teaching. Business management, in the last analysis, was an extension of familism and was filled with nepotism, inefficiencies, and irrationalities. These immensely rich individuals not only failed to develop a capitalistic system; they seldom if ever acquire that acquistive and competitive spirit which is the very soul of the capitalistic system.”

previously: a sense of entitlement and inbreeding and iq

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this one’s for g.w.


from Ecological Sensitivity and Resistance of Cultures in Asia (southeast asia in particular) published in 1978(!):

“Ecological influences on culture have been demonstrated by several investigators. Many such studies have been done in Asia where two ecological niches extend over vast areas. One of these is the highland or mountainous territory 500 meters above sea level; the other consists of plains and plateaus under 500 meters….

“…The HRAF files were used to compare cultures in the highlands with those in the lowlands. The files indicate that certain items may be ecology sensitive (that is, more apt to change with ecologic shift). These include agricultural methods, sociopolitical organization and preferred marriage forms….

“Sociopolitical Organization. … Lowland societies had larger communities, larger states, more nonhereditary local head-men, complex social distinctions, and exogamy. More lowland [sic – should be upland] groups had small communities, small states, hereditary headmen, no exogamy, and less complex class distinctions.

“Family, Marriage and Kinship. … Eskimo/Hawaiian cousin terms corresponded to the quadrilateral/nonlateral cousin marriages found in lowland cultures. Iroquois/Omaha/Crow cousin terms were found in association with matrilineal/patrilineal cousin marriages in the highlands….”

eskimo kinship terms are the ones that we use in the anglo/western world, and the eskimo kinship system is a very generalized one — eg. we don’t distinguish between maternal or paternal cousins, they’re all just “cousins.” so lowland southeast asians have similar kinship terms to us — or they use the hawaiian system which is even more generalized — all your brothers and male cousins are just “brother” and all your sisters and female cousins are just “sister.”

the iroquois, omaha, and crow systems used by the uplanders are all more complex, each distinguishing cousins in different ways — but none of them are as complex as the sudanese system which is the one used in the arab world — and in china. and it used to be used by the anglo-saxons before the Big Change in kinship terms in medieval europe.


“As observed by previous students of southeast Asia, the most parsimonious explanation for these sociopolitical and marriage findings is the production of surplus food in the lowlands. Intensive agriculture favors both increased population density and increased total population. Communities become larger, nation states are formed, and kingship comes into existence. The cetripetal nature of kingship government probably accounts for nonhereditary local headmen replacing hereditary headmen. Surplus rice allows a money economy, towns, a priestly class, social stratification, teachers, and writing.

“Swidden agriculturists in the highlands, on the other hand, maintain simple social and political organization. Small groups migrate more easily, keeping themselves politically and socially intact during and after the move. Each family, even that of the village chief, must raise its own food. Class stratification is simple and large towns are nonexistent. There are part-time shamans, but no priestly class. Even though writing systems (such as Chinese ideography) are near at hand and readily usable, absence of surplus food and large communities obstruct the development of literacy. Such small autonomous communities, numbering between 50 and 400 persons, do not form nation states.

These data again demonstrate the political role of preferred marriage forms. Exogamy and lack of cousin marriage within large lowland nation-states aid in uniting disparate clans and villages. By contrast, the absence of exogamy and the presence of preferred cousin marriage intensify relationships within the small upland social units. Among both societies, the preferred marriage types comprise a social strategy that reinforces the political organization of the group.


i wonder if these se asian “swidden agriculturalists” are/were also pastoralists (since cousin marriage and pastoralism seem to go together — see the arab world), or if just living in a marginal — and remote — upland environment is enough to push a group towards inbreeding, irregardless of whether one’s group is pastoralist or agriculturalist?

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the problem with china

i remember reading a long time ago about how, when bangkok’s elevated train system was built (don’t recall if it was the failed berts or the skytrain or what), everything from the pillars to the platforms was made over dimensioned, because everyone, all the city planners and the engineers, knew — they all knew — that there would be cheating involved at every stage of the construction process — watered down concrete would undoubtedly be used, reused steel reinforcements would take the place the new ones that should’ve been installed, etc., etc. everything had to be over dimensioned to ensure that the whole thing wouldn’t just fall over. (costly, no?)

china has the same fundamental problem — what m.g. has referred to a disregard for the commonweal. the chinese (and other asians, with the apparent exception of the japanese) simply care less about unrelated members of their society than northwest europeans do. and this goes way back — from greif and tabellini [pgs. 18-20]:

“Charity in pre-modern China was generally given to kin. The innovator of the clan trust, Fan Chung-yen (989-1052), “had ruled that the lineage should aid only relatives with lineage ties that were clearly documented in the genealogy” (Smith, 1987, p. 316). Only in the early 17th century non-Buddhist, impersonal charity permanent organizations were established on some scale. Although the Chinese authorities encouraged impersonal charity, moral philosophers decried it viewing the diversion of assistance way from kin immoral. A popular 17th century morality book “tells of a generous scholar who was derided by a member of his lineage for lightly giving money away to strangers ”(ibid)….

“The lack of self-governed cities in China was not simply due to a more powerful state, but also to a pervasive kinship structure that facilitated state control over cities. Indeed, immigrants to cities remained affiliated with their rural kinship groups. As late as the 17th century, in a relatively new city “the majority of a city’’s population consisted of so-called sojourners, people who had come from elsewhere and were considered (and thought of themselves as) only temporary residents …. suspicions were always rife that sojourners could not be trusted ”(Friedmann, 2007, p. 274). As noted above, families that moved to cities retained ‘their allegiance to the ancestral hall for many generations, the bonds of kinship being much closer than those of common residence’ (Hsien-Chin, 1948, p. 10).”

allegiance in china, for a very long time, has been to the clan, not the broader community.

china’s being touted nowadays as the “IT” country of the twenty-first century (third millennium?). maybe. certainly the chinese seem to have the requisite number of iq points — and intelligence is, of course, essential in succeeding in this world. you definitely don’t get very far without it.

but — and if anyone ever takes anything away from this blog, i’d like it to be this — there’s more to human biodiversity than iq.

think, for example, about the probable differences in the life histories of your average person with an iq of, say, 135, and a psychopath with an iq of 135. or a neurotypical with an iq of 135 vs. an aspie with 135. different, right? (no, i’m not saying that the chinese are a bunch of psychopaths — i’m just trying to illustrate that iq is not everything.)

the chinese are not trusting — read greif and tabellini — nor particularly trustworthy (they don’t trust each other!). not when it comes to non-family members anyway.

it’s mighty difficult to build a civil society — or, i think, a successful market economy — without trust — without concern for the commonweal. i don’t see the chinese doing it anytime soon — not without a little evolution first.

china might turn out to (continue to) be a smashing economic success story — if it does, it’s going to look very different from what happened in europe/the u.s. the system won’t be built on trust in strangers — maybe in families/clans, but not strangers — so it won’t be built on corporate entities, not public ones anyway (see greif and tabellini, pg. 24). something to keep in mind if you’re gonna do some, what half sigma has dubbed, hbd investing in china.

(note that none of this is meant to be a criticism of the chinese, nor should it be taken as such. they’re merely hbd observations. we westerners might not particularly like how the chinese operate, but in terms of numbers, they are clearly in the lead right now in the Game of Life. their system may prove to be the superior one — although it didn’t get them to the moon first. or mars.)

previously: the return of chinese clans and the return of the return of chinese clans

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