Courtship and Marriage

Marriage is anticipated for all Ifugao people, and the great majority do marry, although marriage is not necessarily expected of baklas and "tomboys" today. The duration of a marriage union is undefined, except for Christian marriages which are expected to be lifelong. Polygyny and concubinage were practiced historically in Ifugao, but only among the very wealthy men, the kadangyan. The first wife held a higher status than the succeeding wives (Barton, 1919/1969). Monogamy was the norm among other men and women. Polygyny is only practiced informally by a small number of men today, who legally marry one woman and have relationships with one or more other partners. In these modern cases, the women have an antagonistic relationship with each other. This form of marriage and partnership is not highly accepted, as monogamy is the legal and cultural norm today.

Children of the kadangyan were historically married at a very early preadolescent age, or even engaged while in utero, to a child of another kadangyan family through an arrangement made by their parents, with property assignment having been made at that time. This avoided what would be deemed an inappropriate marriage in the future, and created alliances with other wealthy kin groups. For less wealthy families and the younger children of more wealthy families, romance, courtship and premarital sex more commonly led to their deciding independently to marry, at any age. The consent of parents was not required. Today, couples freely choose their spouses. Marriage between siblings and first cousins is tabooed, and historically the marriage of cousins within the third degree was tabooed, but could be overcome (Barton, 1919/1969).

Courtship historically involved visitations to the dormitories by adolescent boys and young men, who played a "lover's harp" and chanted spontaneous romantic phrases, which were similarly responded to by girls or young women (Barton, 1930/1978). Sexual relations often followed a long courtship. Adolescent girls and young women could accept or reject the advances of the suitor, but only accept one suitor at a time. This restriction was looser for young men. Today, young men and women usually socialize and "date" together within a group of peers, and they occasionally meet alone. Courtship sometimes still involves singing modern songs to one's love interest.

There is no traditional religious consecration of the marriage; instead marriages were seen to be civil unions, as well as trial marriages. But baki rituals were celebrated throughout the marriage process to ensure prosperity and children for the couple. To initiate the marriage and establish the engagement, a distant relative or friend of the man brought betel nut to the woman's parents to ask for permission to marry her. Four baki ceremonies and gifts from the groom's family to the bride's kin were required to fulfill a marriage process. In some Ifugao areas, these involved the groom's family sending one pig for each ceremony to the girl's family, who performed a baki ritual and read the bile of a pig to uncover a good or bad omen. The girl's family usually returned smaller gifts to the boy's family (Barton, 1919/1969). These practices varied by economic group and village, and continue to be practiced by some Ifugao people today. For Christian couples today, a Christian ceremony is performed to religiously consecrate a marriage, followed by a secular feast, traditional or modern music, dancing, and gift giving. Ultimately, marriage is viewed primarily as an alliance, wherein spouses' ties to their own kin group remain stronger than their marital ties (Barton, 1919/1969).

Widows and widowers can remarry any nonkin person. But they should wait for a period of a year from the death of the spouse, and they or their future spouse must make a payment to their dead spouse's family to officially terminate the marriage (Barton, 1919/1969).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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