Culture Comparisons Between the !Kung Culture and the Indian Culture Essay

For this paper I chose along with the ethnography of ! Nisa, to write about the Family, Marriage and Kinship ties of Indian culture specifically of the village of Ratakote as told in Conformity and Conflict. The first thing I noticed about both cultures was they practiced arranged marriages with their children preferably being young (the Indians explained that young age was best so their children wouldn’t start becoming sexually active and elope with someone else they fell in love with and break off the entire marriage they were in). Both cultures were very close to each other family-wise even if they weren’t related to each other.

The ! Kung people didn’t like to marry or arrange a marriage with other blood related family members even with distant cousins and if a person shared the same surname as one of the family members or even a child if the woman is older, they are forbidden to marry her. The Indian culture on the other hand had 36 different Araks or clans with a name for each one which a member from that particular clan used as their surname. Parents were forbidden to marry their children off to their own Araks they themselves came from in order to prevent incest.

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One other interesting fact I found out that differed these two cultures from one another was who the children went to after a divorce. The Indian culture gave the husband custody of the children as they generally gave the males more importance. They had a matrilineal society where the ancestry was traced through the men. There was even a quote in the Conformity and Conflict book that explained the man was considered the one who planted seeds while the woman was the field in which they did it, explaining the sexual relationship between a husband and wife.

In the ! Kung culture the children stayed with their mother. Another difference is in the ! Kung culture the husband traveled to the bride’s parent’s village since young women are generally not encouraged to separate from their mother until they came of age. He would work with her father to help provide meat for his wife and her family as well as show the parents how he treated her and them in order to make their approval even stronger.

In the Indian culture, the groom’s family would issue a “bride price” or dapa in which money or silver ornaments and other valuable items were given. They also had symbolic rituals showing that the bride had switched loyalties to another family. She was expected to cry to show she was leaving her home and the groom, during the ending of the ritual, would storm into the bride’s parents home, strike a ceremonial arch and step on a small fire in the home to show he was “violating the home’s sacred hearth”.

At the end of the wedding he would, along with some friends of his fight a mock battle against the bride’s brothers and his own friends then “abduct” the bride in a show that she was his. It explains in the book that it was the equivalent of a father giving away the bride in America. The ! Kung people also had marriage rituals; they weren’t as elaborate as the Indians even though gifts were given long before the marriage ritual started.

Family members from both sides would build a “marriage hut” on the outskirts of a village and the bride would be carried up and made to lay inside while the groom would walk and sit outside the hut while the family members would bring coals from their individual fires and start one in front of the hut to symbolically show that the bride and groom’s families were joined together. Then they would celebrate in front of the fire, laughing and joking with the bride and groom not participating and staying away from each other until everyone left.

Then the couple would stay the night in the hut, though since the bride is more often than not ten years younger than the groom and not mature yet, and if she’s too scared, an older woman can lay inside the hut as well. The next morning the bride and groom are covered in oils, each being worked on by the other’s mother. Divorce is quite common in the ! Kung culture. Since the bride is so young and the groom can be years older than her, first marriages don’t often last long despite the husband’s wanting to cooperate to his full extent as well as his patience.

The parents are responsible for arranging first marriages and even second ones if the bride is young enough but once a woman is older, she can choose a husband for herself, hoping her parents agree. With divorce, the woman can ask for support from her family or she can just make life so unpleasant for the husband that he leaves. Both of these cultures had many differences but they also had many similarities such as their close ties of kinship to Araks in the Indian’s case or villages for the !

Kung culture. They also practiced arranged marriages though for the ! Kung the first marriage is usually the only one arranged since the bride is so young. They both had symbolic rituals, though the Indian’s was more elaborate and intense. All in all, both cultures were distinct as one way of life and they had similarities showing that humans in other parts of the world aren’t so different after all whether they be in the African Continent or in the more modernized Indian country.

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