1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Endogamy

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ENDOGAMY (Gr. ἔνδον, within, and γάμος, marriage), marriage within the tribe or community, the term adopted to express the custom compelling those of a tribe to marry among themselves. Endogamy was probably characteristic of the very early stages of social organization (see Family), and is to-day found only among races low in the scale of civilization. As a custom it is believed to have been preceded in most lands by the far more general rule of Exogamy (q.v.). Lord Avebury (Origin of Civilisation, p. 154) points out that “there is not the opposition between exogamy and endogamy which Mr McLennan supposed.” Some races which are endogamous as regards the tribe are exogamous as regards the gens. Thus the Abors, Kochs, Hos and other peoples of India, are forbidden to marry out of the tribe; but the tribe itself is divided into “keelis” or clans, and no man is allowed to take as wife a girl of his own “keeli”. Endogamy must have in most cases arisen from racial pride, and a contempt, either well or ill founded, for the surrounding peoples.

Among the Ahtena of Alaska, though the tribes are extremely militant and constantly at war, the captured women are never made wives, but are used as slaves. Endogamy also prevails among tribes of Central America. With the Yerkalas of southern India a custom prevails by which the first two daughters of a family may be claimed by the maternal uncle as wives for his sons. The value of a wife is fixed at twenty pagodas (a 16th-century Indian coin equivalent to about five shillings), and should the uncle forgo his claim he is entitled to share in the price paid for his nieces. Among some of the Karen tribes marriages between near relatives are usual. The Douignaks, a branch of the Chukmas, seem to have practised endogamy; and they “abandoned the parent stem during the chiefship of Janubrix Khan about 1782. The reason of this split was a disagreement on the subject of marriages. The chief passed an order that the Douignaks should intermarry with the tribe in general. This was contrary to an ancient custom and caused discontent and eventually a break in the tribe” (Lewin’s Hill Tracts of Chittagong, p. 65). This is interesting as being one of the few cases in which evidence of a change in this respect is available. The Kalangs of Java are endogamous, and every man must first prove his common descent before he can enter a family. The Manchu Tatars prohibit those who have the same family names from marrying. Among the Bedouins “a man has an exclusive right to the hand of his cousin.” Hottentots seldom marry out of their own kraal, and David Livingstone quotes other examples. Endogamy seems to have existed in the Sandwich Islands and in New Zealand. A community of Javans near Surabaya, on the Teugger Hills, numbering about 1200 persons, distributed in about forty villages, and still following the ancient Hindu religion, is endogamous. Good examples of what biologists call “in-and-in breeding” are to be found in various fishing villages in Great Britain, such as Itchinferry, near Southampton, Portland Island, Bentham in Yorkshire, Mousehole and Newlyn in Mountsbay, Cornwall, Boulmer near Alnwick (where almost all the inhabitants are called Stephenson, Stanton or Stewart), Burnmouth, Ross and (to some extent) Eyemouth in Berwickshire, Boyndie in Banffshire, Rathen in Aberdeenshire, Buckhaven in Fifeshire, Portmahomack and Balnabruach in Eastern Ross. In France may be mentioned the commune of Batz, near Le Broisic in Loire-Inférieur, many of the central cantons of Brétagne, and the singular society called Foréatines — supposed to be of Irish descent — living between St Arnaud and Bourges. Many other European examples might be mentioned, such as the Marans of Auvergne, a race of Spanish converted Jews accused of introducing syphilis into France; the Burins and Sermoyers, chiefly cattle-breeders, scattered over the department of Ain and especially in the arrondissement of Bourg-en-Bresse; the Vaquéros, shepherds in the Asturias Mountains; and the Jewish Chuetas of Majorca.

See Gilbert Malcolm Sproat’s Scenes and Studies of Savage Life; Westermarck’s History of Human Marriage (1894); Lord Avebury’s Origin of Civilisation (1902); J.F. McLennan’s Primitive Marriage (1865).