Courtship and Marriage

Male-female courtship was unknown since all but a small minority of marriages were of the arranged variety, with infant betrothal the dominant form. Elopement as a result of love matches was apparently uncommon, and if the female was already married it was potentially fatal to both partners. There was no status akin to either bachelor or spinster, and all people were expected to marry. There was no element of choice as to when to marry for younger adults, but as people grew older they possibly had greater control over the timing of their remarriage and, for women, over their choice of new partners. Arranged marriages were of two major kinds: a "mother's brother" circumcisor promised a daughter (often an infant) as compensation to the youth he had circumcised, and public gift exchanges formalized the arrangement; or two men would negotiate for one to promise the other a daughter, and the intending recipient would hunt for, and periodically give gifts to, the parents of the girl. A marriage began when a woman took her daughter's possessions and placed them outside the promised husband's camp. Most girls today resist marriage to their betrothed, so this simple ritual has disappeared. Increasingly, young people choose their sexual partners, and traditional arranged marriage is in rapid decline; however, it has not been replaced by formal Western-style marriage.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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