PIE kinship and marriage

(<< see what i did there? PIE? geddit? (~_^) )

historical linguists have worked out what they think (there are debates within the discipline, of course) were the likely kinship terms in proto-indo-european (PIE). i’m not going to get into the terms here, but you can read all about them in Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A Reconstruction and Historical of a Proto-language and a Proto-culture, in chapter seven — “The social organization, economy, and kinship system of the ancient Indo-Europeans” — starting on page 643 (for something of an opposing viewpoint, see chapter five — “Proto-Indo-European Kinship” — here).

to get straight to the point, it seems that pretty much all of the historical linguistics working on PIE agree that the proto-indo-europeans probably had an omaha kinship system (where they disagree is on how to interpret the signficance of that, for example, did the proto-indo-europeans marry their…wait for it…cousins?). they haven’t actually worked out what the proto-indo-europeans called their cousins — whether they had just one word (like us) or several words (like the chinese or the arabs) — but they have figured out via the naming of other relatives (like uncles and grandfathers) that the system was an omaha one.

the omaha kinship system looks like this (real world kinship systems often vary a bit from these schematic outlines, so you should keep in mind that while the PIE system was probably close to this scheme, it may not have necessarily matched it perfectly — click on image for LARGER view):

omaha kinship

the notable points about this system are that: 1) ego’s paternal uncle (his father’s brother) is called the same term as his father, and his mother’s sister is called the same as his mother; 2) therefore, the children of these uncles and aunts (ego’s cousins) are called the same as his siblings; 3) for some whacky reason that i don’t fully grok yet, ego’s mother’s brother is called the same thing as ego’s PATernal grandfather, therefore those cousins are actually called “(grand)father” and “mother” (i.e. there’s a generational shift in the terminology — on the right of the diagram); and 4) at the other end of the family (diagram), ego’s father’s sister is called “sister” and his cousins there are called “nephew” and “niece.”

don’t worry, you don’t have to learn all that! this material will not be included in the final exam. the important point here is that the naming of the cousins might give us some indications of which cousins (if any) were considered marriage material and which were off-limits. my thinking on first looking at this omaha system was that 1) the cousins called the same thing as siblings (fbd and mzd) must be off-limits — who marries their siblings? and 2) the cousins called the same thing as “mom” (mbd) DEFINITELY must be off-limits — who marries their MOM?! =/

in my view, the only available cousins to marry in this scheme appear to be the father’s sister’s daughter (fzd) who is called “niece.” plenty of peoples have uncle-niece marriage, so that concept isn’t (that) strange at all. (to be fair, a few populations with omaha kinship systems do manage to marry their mbds — the cousins called “mom” — but they typically have all sorts of purification rituals surrounding those marriages — ’cause, ewwww!)

however, the general consensus of the PIE researchers seems to be that both cross-cousins — the fzd AND the mbd — were probably marriage material as far as the proto-indo-europeans were concerned. the only question is, to what extent did they marry these cousins? who knows. that is simply impossible to say. (again, there are some dissenting voices out there wrt cousin marriage among the PIE speakers).

gamkrelidze and ivanov are some of the historical linguists who think that mbd marriage was probably possible, too, despite the ewwww-factor of marrying someone you call mom. mbd is the most common form of cousin marriage there is, so maybe proto-into-europeans did, indeed, marry them, too [pg. 671]:

“The fact that individuals bearing different kinship relations are called by the same term — father’s father and mother’s brother, grandson and sister’s son — can be explained if we assume that they were functionally identical from ego’s viewpoint. This reconstructed system points to a close consanguineal relation between the father’s father and mother’s brother, as is possible in a dual-exogamous cross-cousin marriage system, where a man can marry his mother’s brother’s daughter or father’s sister’s daughter, both of whom belng to the other lineal group.”

proto-indo-europeans are thought to have had a patrilineal family system — descent was reckoned primarly through the father’s line — and patrilocal residence — a woman would leave her family upon marriage and go live with her husband and his family. finally, they had clans [pg. 652 — i’m missing the PIE script formatting here]:

“7.4.1. The Indo-European word for ‘kin, clan’

“One of the basic structural units of ancient Indo-European society was the kin grouping *k’en-(th-) ‘clan, tribe, kin collectivity’. The stem is etymologically related to *k’en- ‘give birth’ (Skt. janati ‘gives birth’, OLat. geno ‘(I) give birth’, Gk. gignomai ‘(I) issue from, come from’, etc. The word for ‘clan’, etc. is a derivative in *-th- from this root, a formation well preserved in a number of early Indo-European dialects….

“In Italic the Proto-Indo-European word for ‘clan’, etc. is represented by Lat. gens, gen. gentis ‘clan; kinship grouping; tribe’. In Germanic the root is attested in a derivative, Goth. kindins ‘clan leader’ (from *k’enthi-nos)….”

so, the PIE speakers were: a patrilineal, patrilocal, clannish people who probably married their cross-cousins to some extent.

that is all!

previously: more on inbreeding in germanic tribes and archaic greek mating patterns and kinship terms

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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! (^_^))

historic mating patterns of native north americans

still on vacation** (i know – it’s disgusting! (~_^) ) — but still reading! a bit.

i picked up this book (pub. 1969) in a used book store the other day (yes, an ACTUAL book store!). it includes a nice, although possbily out-of-date, summary of mating patterns/cousin marriage in native north american societies [pgs. 227-229 – links added by me]:


First-cousin marriage was permitted or perferred by a small minority of peoples….

“On the northern Northwest Coast, cross-cousin marriage was the preferred kind of union. If no first cross-cousin was available to a man, he chose a more remote cousin designated by the same word in the language. Among the Haida, a boy of ten years of age ideally went to live with his mother’s brother, who gave him his education in the lore of the sib as well as in practical matters. When the boy reached marriageable age, he ideally married his mother’s brother’s daughter and continued to live in the house of his mother’s brother. When the latter died, the boy, who was now the deceased’s son-in-law and also his sister’s son, inherited his house, land, and chattels as well as his social position and prestige. If no mother’s brother’s daughter was available to a young man, he might substitute a father’s sister’s daughter, who was designated by the same kinship term in the language….

“Among the Kaska, inland from the Northwest Coast, the only first cousin a man was permitted to marry was his mother’s brother’s daughter. This was the preferred marriage, although many men had to be content with cousins further removed or with unrelated wives. At Lake Teslin, between the Kaska and the coast, and among the Chipewyans farther east, a man could marry only his father’s sister’s daughter.

“Proceeding farther east to the Cree and Ojibwa, we find a different picture. Although marriages with both kinds of first cross-cousins were permitted, they were less frequent than those with more remote cousins. Double cross-cousin marriage sometimes occurred; a man married a woman who was both his mother’s brother’s daughter and his father’s sister’s daughter at the same time. This could happen only when two men in the older generation had exchanged their sisters, each marrying the other’s sister. The offspring from these unions would be double cross-cousins. Figures on the frequency of single cross-cousin marriage show that the mother’s brother’s daughter was married more often then the father’s sister’s daughter. The pattern of the Montagnais-Naskapi of the Labrador Peninsula was similar to that of the Cree and Ojibwa.

“In California and Oregon, cross-cousin marriage was permitted or perferred only by a small minority of tribelets, and in every case the mother’s brother’s daughter was singled out. In the Great Basin, cross-cousin marriage was permitted in a minority of localities but was nowhere the preferred form. In the Southwest, only the Walapai permitted a man to marry either variety of cross-cousin. The Maya of the Yucatan appear to have had both kinds of cross-cousin marriage at the time of first Spanish contact, although the evidence is indirect….

Parallel cousin marriage [like fbd marriage – h.chick] was tolerated in a very few localities, but was nowhere a preferred form.

complicating matters though:


The vast majority of North American peoples practiced polygyny. It was probably most frequent in the northern part of the Plains and Prairie areas…. Actual figures obtained from the records of priests among the Crees and Ojibwas indicate an incidence of polygyny in former times well over 20 per cent. Another area of common occurrence was the Northwest Coast. Although polygyny was limited to the wealthier class in this area, mainly because of the great amount of the bride price, it seems to have exceeded 20 per cent in many localities.

“Exclusive monogamy was the rule among the Iroquois and a few of their neighbors. This is to be expected in cultures in which matrilineal descent and matrilocal residence were coupled with female ownership and control of agricultural land and houses, not to mention the unusual authority of women in political affairs. Here the men literally moved in with their wives, who could divorce them merely by tossing their personal effects out of the door of the longhouse….”

ruh-roh! (~_^)

“The only other area where female dominance approached this level was that of the western Pueblos in the Southwest. Here the picture was similar, and exclusive monogamy prevailed. The other instances of exclusive monogamy were scattered and occurred in both bilateral and patrilineal societies. They do not lend themselves to any ready explanation.

“Sororal polygyny — that is, the marriage of a man to two wives who were sisters — probably occurred wherever polygyny was to be found. A number of Plains tribes had no other form. A man in this society was especially anxious to acquire an eldest sister as a first mate, with an eye on acquiring her younger sister if and when he could afford them…. [I]t is easy to see that polygyny had more utility in societies where male mortality in hunting and warfare was high. The Plains was one of these areas. Among the Eskimos, where a man had more difficulty in supporting multiple wives, the extremely high male mortality was offset by female infanticide. This partially explains the more modest amount of polygyny present in the Arctic.”

more on native north americans eventually! (^_^)

previously: mating patterns in colonial mexico: the mayans and the kato

**not hbd chick

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the canonical family tree

following up on a reader request, here is an extended family tree for ya with names (boy, it's HARD to pick names for kids!).

everything is from the point-of-view of “jack” (ego). i went for double-barrelled names in order to give some sort of hint as to any given individual’s relationship to jack. so, his father’s brother (his paternal uncle) is “frank bob.” and his father’s brother’s daughter (his paternal first-cousin) is “frances betty” (see what i did there?).

here they all are (click on charts for LARGER images – should open in new tab/window):

now, in father’s brother’s daughter marriage (i can see your eyes glazing over already!), jack marries his uncle frank’s daughter, cousin frances. in a society where this is a common practice (eg. arab world), they do this over and over again, although maybe not in every generation. if it were every generation, it would look like this:

so, all of the jacks marry their cousins frances betty. see how the lineage keeps folding back in on itself? this is some close inbreeding.

also, see the left side of the canonical family tree? — where uncle mike and aunt martha are? mom’s brother and sister? that side of the family tree doesn’t really exist in an fbd system, ’cause mom’s brothers and sisters are ALSO dad’s paternal cousins. in an fbd system, the left side of the family tree should really be over on the right side. (*facepalm*) maybe i’ll try to draw that one day. it’s no wonder that most peoples in the world consider fbd marriage to be too incestuous — interesting that most people figured that out and avoid it.

now, here’s mother’s brother’s daughter marriage, the most common variant of cousin marriage and the most common form found (traditionally) in china:

again, all of the jacks marry their mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) — mary beth. but this time, dad is NOT related to mom’s side of the family via his patrilineage. this is a sort-of inbreeding, but not so close as fbd marriage above. not always within the same lineage. mom’s brother, mike, is probably married to a woman from some other lineage, so cousin mary beth is not so closely related to jack. dad’s brother, frank, on the other hand, is probably also married to a woman from the patrilineage, so (in fbd marriage) jack and frances betty are probably more closely genetically related.

what the canonical family tree needs, really, are surnames. (why didn’t i think of that sooner?!)

imagine the fbd marriage system above — jack’s new wife, cousin frances betty, doesn’t have to change her last name ’cause she’s in the same patrilineage as jack. jack smith, let’s say, marries his father’s brother’s daughter — uncle frank bob smith’s daughter, cousin frances betty smith. see?

in the mbd marriage system, on the other hand, jack smith marries his mother’s brother’s daughter — uncle mike bill jones’ daughter, cousin mary beth jones. mary beth needs to change her name ’cause she’s from another patrilineage. like confucius say marriage is “the union of two surnames, in friendship and in love.”

previously: genealogical terminology

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cousin marriage rates in modern china

surveys of late-twentieth century cousin marriage rates in urban china — places like beijing and shanghai — have found very modern marriage patterns, i.e. very low consanguinity rates (0.7% – 0.8% of all marriages between 1949-67 in those two cities being between first- and second-cousins).

rural areas, otoh, have remained more inbred — rural hubei province having rates between 2.8% – 4.3% between 1949-67.

zhaoxiong found that just the first-cousin marriage rate in lijiawan village in hubei between 1949-93 (note that cousin marriage in china has been technically illegal since 1980) was 8.4%. that’s quite a bit higher than the rates above, especially considering that it doesn’t include second-cousin marriages (the rates above do — who knows how many second-cousin marriages there were in lijiawan?).

zhaoxiong also found that mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage was the most common form, followed by mother’s sister’s daughter (mzd) and, then, father’s sister’s daughter (fzd). nobody married their father’s brother’s daughter (fbd).

as wang, et. al., point out: “[T]here is a long history of consanguineous marriage in China….” however, cousin marriage rates in china have been dropping since at least the middle of the twentieth century — but they’re still pretty high in rural communities.

the genetic ties are starting to loosen in china. if they keep it up, that could prove to be a good thing in terms of having a more cohesive rather than a clannish society. don’t ask me how many generations they’ll need to make this happen! wish i could be around in a few hundred years to see how it worked out for them. (^_^)

many thanks to m.g. for the zhaoxiong article! (^_^)

previously: cousin marriage in china and abridged history of cousin marriage in china and china today… and china and landlordism and what else happened during the middle ages?

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cousin marriage in china

from “Rethinking cousin marriage in rural China”:

“This article considers cousin marriage rules among affines in rural Chinese culture, based on research in Hubei Province….

“Studies during the last several decades have proposed different explanations of cousin marriage among Chinese, but none provides an accurate and comprehensive principle to explain the rules that guide the selection of marriage partners among relatives in rural Chinese society….

“For the Chinese, qinqi (affines) are relationships created through marriage, and are sharply distinguished from members of one’s own lineage. In the kinship terminology, patrilateral parallel cousins are tang (FBS and FBD), but all patrilateral cross-cousins, matrilateral cross-cousins, and matrilateral parallel cousins are biao (remote) relatives for Ego, male or female.

“Marriage within the lineage, especially FBD marriage [father’s brother’s daughter marriage], is treated like marriage between kin and tantamount to sibling marriage. Because this type of marriage is strictly forbidden, both in custom and in law, it does not need attention here. (2) But marriages between other types of first cousins are regarded quite differently. FZD [father’s sister’s daughter marriage], MBD [mother’s brother’s daughter marriage], and MZD marriages [mother’s sister’s daughter marriage] for a male ego have usually been referred to as biao or zhong-biao (outside) marriages. Although the marriage rules that prevailed during the dynastic era of China’s history generally tolerated such marriages (Li 1950:99-100), they have been prohibited for genetic reasons in both mainland China and Taiwan since the 1980s (Tao, Wang, and Ge 1988:313; Liang 1995:14). In practice, however, this type of marriage continues in a great many villages (Wu, Yang, and Wang 1990:330).

Previous research indicates considerable regional variation in attitudes and preferences related to biao marriages. For example, in both Kaixiangong Village in Jiangsu Province, where Fei (1939) did fieldwork, and Phoenix Village in Guangdong Province, which Kulp (1925) studied, MBD marriage was preferred and FZD marriage frowned upon (Fei 1939:50-51; Kulp 1925:168). According to Hsu (1945:91), the people of West Town in Yunnan Province favored MBD marriage, tolerated MZD marriage, but disapproved of FZD marriage. On the basis of his fieldwork and that of Fei and Kulp, Hsu (1945:100) makes the generalization that MBD marriage is preferred all over China, whereas in most regions FZD marriage is not….

Controversy remains, however, as to whether among cousin marriages MBD marriage is preferred in every region of China. Freedman (1958:98-99), for example, contends that MBD marriage is not prevalent everywhere in China and certainly not in southeast China. Gallin (1963), based on his research in a Taiwanese village, considers that in China MZD marriage is not considered particularly problematic, and that MBD marriage is preferred over FZD marriage. Furthermore, MBD marriages are not favored so much as simply permitted, and FZD marriages tend to meet with disapproval more often than with tolerance. Gallin (1963:108) suggests that in some regions MBD marriages may be actively preferred, but in general they are merely considered acceptable.”

so historically — which is a loooong time in china — cousin marriage was very much a part of chinese marriage practices. but it sounds like the types and frequencies varied between regions — and prolly over time, too. china’s a big place, after all.

that’s why i questioned kirin, et. al.’s statement:

“This is not surprising because both of these groups [europeans and east asians] are mainly represented here by fairly large populations with no documented preference for consanguineous marriage.”

if they mean now — well, yessort-of. if they mean at all historically — and by that i mean anytime before the mid-twentieth century — then, no. that’s just not right.

i don’t have acess to the above article, but i’m gonna order it, so i’ll post more about chinese cousin marriage sometime soon(-ish). (^_^)

previously: china today… and what else happened during the middle ages? and china and landlordism and chinese kinship terms…

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rough guide to inbreeding and outbreeding

this is obviously an over-simplification, but i wanted to outline some of the effects that inbreeding and outbreeding have on social behaviors. so, it’s way, waaaay over-simplified. it’s just me thinking out loud.

these are just a few of my favorite things i thought of off the top of my head. there’ve been many others discussed around here lately — like harmonious jim suggested that exogamy lead to humanism. i think that’s prolly pretty right. we wouldn’t have gotten here without strong exogamy anyway.

also, there ought to be more gradations here, but i didn’t bother right now — like somewhere in between “no inbreeding” (nuclear families) and “maternal-side inbreeding” (clans) there ought to be extended families — not completely outbred, but not as inbred as clan-based societies. (maternal-side inbreeding = mbd & mzd marriage; paternal-side inbreeding = fbd & fzd marriage.)

anyway — here is a rough guide to some of the apparent effects of inbreeding and outbreeding on social behaviors. do, please, suggest some more! (and/or take issue with these!):

(note: comments do not require an email. medieval squirrel.)

tribes and types of cousin marriages ii

in the previous post on tribes and types of cousin marriages, i posted a couple of graphics illustrating father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage and mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage, showing how fbd marriage is a closed system while mbd marriage enables alliances with other lineages/clans.

here now are the last two forms of cousin marriage: father’s sister’s daughter (fzd) marriage and mother’s sister’s daughter (mzd) marriage. they’re not very different from the other two — fbd and fzd marriage are both closed systems, and mbd and mzd marriage both enable alliances with other lineages/clans — it’s just that the connections are slightly different, i.e. ego marries the daughter of his one of his aunts (fzd & mzd) versus his one of his uncles (fbd & mbd).

note that the coefficients of relatedness in cousin marriage are highest for mzd marriage; next highest for mbd marriage; and lowest for both fbd and fzd, which are the same (if i’ve done my maths right!). mbd marriage is the most common form of cousin marriage around the world; fbd marriage is the most common in arab countries and places like iran, afghanistan and pakistan.

here we go. father’s sister’s daughter (fzd) marriage over several generations (triangles are boys, circles are girls. compare with fbd marriage):

and mother’s sister’s daughter (mzd) marriage over several generations (compare with mbd marriage):

the thing with either mbd or mzd marriage is that the bride is always being brought in from an outside lineage or clan. fbd and fzd marriage is diametrically the opposite — the bride is from the same patrilineage as ego.

also, in mbd and mzd marriage, in each generation a bride can be brought in from a different lineage or clan, so ego’s lineage can build up many alliances with many other lineages/clans over time. some societies apparently have, traditionally, had arrangements in which several lineages would swap brides over several generations in a cyclical system, thus building up extended familial connections and, therefore, alliances. i imagine that very large tribes could be built up this way, whereas the fbd/fzd system results in segmented lineages, i.e. clans and sub-clans and sub-sub-clans that always seem to be squabbling.

previously: tribes and types of cousin-marriage and genealogical terminology and what is a tribe?

(note: comments do not require an email. happy hour, anybody? (^_^) )