pclaus at pclaus at
Sat May 11 02:24:08 UTC 1996

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Date: May 10, 1996 
Indology List
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Dear Members
Mikael Aktor recently asked abut land transfers and marriage in
relation to Declan Quigley's  _The Interpretation of Caste_,
Oxford, Clarendon, 1993
" ... families would establish their sons in the surrounding
villages together with wives from the local land-owning families
of lower rank, thereby obtaining control over new land."
As I remember, Quigley was referring specifically to Newar
marriages at a certain point in history. (I don't have the book
with me at present)
As Devadas's remark also implied, marriage, land and hypergamous
marriages do sometimes have something to do with one another in
South Asia, but not always the same set of specific conditions
Quigley bases his more general hypothesis on. Certainly this is
the case in Kerala. Nambudri men who could not inherit family
property did not formed liasons with Nayar families in order to
acquire the Nayar land.  The land remained in the Nayar family.
(which answers one of Aktor's questions: there was no transfer of
land with the marriage -- in fact it has always been debated
among anthropologists whether these liasons constituted
While gifts of land with gifts of brides do occur in the
ethnography of other parts of South Asia (see eg. Yalman, _Under
the Bo Tree_ for a wide variety of different kinds of dowry
transfers associated with differential status groups) it would
seem to have more to do with the interpretation of the situation
where a high-ranking boy would be living on his wife's property.
If the property were deeded to the boy at the time of marriage,
he would not be living on her land, at her house, which would be
slur not only on him, but his family.  In regions where people
use Dravidian kinship categories, once the marriage is
contracted, future marriages are between the two families would
not indicate a status difference (ie. would be isogamous
In any case, I suspect that hypergamy is far more widely
practiced and under a greater variety of different situations
than can be accounted for by Quigley's hypothesis. ("...the
author advances the hypothesis that hypergamy can be explained in
relation to strategies of territorial expansions.")
Peter J. Claus                        
fax: (510) 885-3353
pclaus at

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