Attainment of Adulthood

To become fully adult in Aymara society, a chacha (man) or warmi (woman) must be married. In fact, Hardman (1976) observes that the Aymara word for marriage, jaqichasina, translates literally as "to cause oneself to become a person." In the countryside, no one lives alone. Young men who are not married will live with their parents; widowers either quickly remarry or live with relatives who can help raise the children. A woman may become an independent householder (and hence a functional adult) without a husband if she has children to care for. These may be her own biological children, orphaned siblings, or adopted children. As a householder she is viewed with the same autonomy as other heads of household. Without this independent household status, young people may be well into their twenties and still be seen as not fully adult. For young men, military service is often also part of their transition to adulthood (Buechler & Buechler, 1971, p. 35).

Once married, young adults begin to develop some independence from their parents but, like marriage itself, this is a process. Newlyweds who live with the husband's parents (the most common pattern) are subject to the direction of the older adults; the bride is given all manner of domestic chores by her mother-in-law and is admonished not to be lazy and just sit around caring for her baby. Her husband and father-in-law may be encouraged to beat her to emphasize her inferior status and teach her to obey. The young man works with his father on the family lands or other economic pursuits.

After 2 or 3 years, the couple receive some or all of their inheritance from both parents and begin to construct a separate house compound. Ties with parents ideally remain close enough that family members frequently drop in unannounced for a meal or to borrow a tool. An increasingly popular alternative to this patrilocal postmarital residence is a neolocal option in which the young couple relocate (or elope) to an urban or coastal location where one or both already have contacts or employment.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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