Kinship systems

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 9 20:10:43 UTC 2000

>Thank you very much for your references. There is at least one
>tribe namely the Ho of Bihar and Orissa who indulge in cross cousin
>marriages. "They trace their descent through the paternal line, and young
>people are expected to marry outside the paternal clan, but there is a
>prevalent custom of marrying one's cousin on the maternal side. Marriage by
>elopement and by abduction are also traditionally common."

This web site is not a detailed study. Munda and Dravidian kinships are
different. Mathematically, do the Hos do "straight sister-exchanges"
in marriages? There is a gap of usually a minimum of 3 generations for
marriage between
cousins, different from the Dravidian symmetrical cross-cousin bridal
exchanges within
the same generation.
R. Parkin, Munda kinship terminologies, Man, 20, 705-21, 1985.
Does Parkin ( (i) Prescriptive alliance in Southeast Asia: The
Austroasiatic evidence, Sociologus, 36, 1, 52-64
(ii) Prescription and Transformation in Mon-Khmer Kinship
terminologies, Sociologus, 38, 1, 55-68) compare
with the classic Drav. kinship??

W.H.R.Rivers, "The marriage of cousins in India", JRAS,
1907, pp. 611-640

On the other hand, epic marriages in MBh and other texts from old North is
of Dravidian
pattern. Prof. G. v. Simson gave a reference in this list a while ago.
A. M. Hocart, "Buddha and Devadatta", Indian Antiquary 52 (1923), p. 267-72.
I can add one more: AMH, Buddha and Devadatta II,  Indian Antiquary,
vol. 54, Oct. 1925, pp. 98-99.
I give in the end some portions K. Mitra illustrating the importance
of cross-cousin marriage in the North. Just as the bilingualism was lost,
the later dharmashastras started insisting these weddings are wrong.
Perhaps to reinforce the difference between IA and Dravidian ways of life.

>As you pointed out in your original post anthropologists point out that the
>cross cousin marriage custom among the Sinhalese and the Divehis point to
>their Dravidian origins.

The Maldives Dravidian substratum is researched by C. Maloney at:

The Sinhalese also exhibit a Dravidian kinship pattern:
R. L. Stirrat, Dravidian and Non-Dravidian kinship terminologies
in Sri Lanka. Contrib. Ind. Sociology, 11, 271-93, 1977.
Nur Yalman i) Under the Bo tree, 1967
ii) The structure of the Sinhalese kindred: A re-examination of the
Dravidian terminology, American Anthropologist, 1962, 64:548-75.

Best Regards,
N. Ganesan

Cross-cousin Relation Between Buddha and Devadatta.
Mitra, Kalipada.
Indian Antiquary,  pp.125--128

       " References  to the cross-cousin  system are to be
        found   in  the  Brahmana   and   Sutra   literature.
        Westermarck in his History of Human Marriage (p. 304)
        says, " yet in the older literature marriage with the
        daughters  of the mother's  brother  and sons  of the
        father's sister is permitted " and quotes passages in
        support   of  this  in  the  footnote.   Weber:  (Die
        Kastenver-  haltnisse  in dem Brahman  und Sutra'  in
        Indische Studien, vol.  X, pp.  75 et sep.  Pradyumna
        married the daughter  of Rukmi, his mother Rukmini's
        brother.(13) Arjuna married his mother's
        brother's  daughter, Subhadra (Krshna's  sister).
        We need not examine  here whether  Krshna  and Arjuna
        were Aryans or Non-Aryans, to determine  whether  the
        custom  was Aryan or Non-Aryan.  Anyhow it shows that
        the  custom  prevailed  in  Northern  India.   Arjuna
        married  her in the Rakshasa  form by abducting  her,
        which  involved  him in a fight with the Yadavas, his
        cross-cousin relations. This may point to the rivalry
        adverted  to by  Mr.  Hocart, but  then  it militates
        against  the great friendship  which existed  between
        Krshna and the Pandavas.  King Avimaraka  in Bhasa's
        drama Avimaraka  marries Kurangi, the daughter of his
        mother's  brother, Kuntibhoja.  Madhavacarya  in  his
        commentary  on  Parasara  Samhita  says  that  though
        marriage  with  a  mother's  brother's   daughter  is
        against  the practice  of wise men in Northern  India
        (Udicyacishta  garhilam) yet being a good practice in
        the Dekhan, this system  is not indecorous  (avinita)
        in   Northern   India.    The   Crutis   support   it
        (matulasutavivahasyanugrahakah  Crutyadayah), and he
        quotes   Rg   Veda   (7.    4.   3.   22.   6--trptam
        jahurmatulasyeva   yosha,   etc.) ,  as   being   the
        mantravarna used in that marriage. References to this
        marriage  are  also  contained  in Kumarila  Bhatta's
        Tantravartika  (pp.  127--129, Benares  edition) and
        Viramitrodaya-Samskara-prakaca  (pp.  139--141,  172,
        203)(14) But as I have not sufficiently  investigated
        this  line  of  evidence, I am unable  to say  if  it
        strengthens  Mr.   Hocart's  theory  of  cross-cousin
        rivalry.  Mysterious  are the ways in which the seeds
        and  pollen  of a myth  or  custom  are  carried  and
        propagated  and Mr.  Hocart's  theory demands serious

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