Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/407

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Cor7'espondence. 371

aimed at, — to regularize marriages hitherto regarded with the horror of incest. Whether this tradition records facts I do not know. If not, at least it shows what the Nyori contemplate as possible and regular proceedings in case of need. An examin- ation of the social organization of the Masai reveals the various clans undergoing even now the process of fission. They are divided into two groups for which Mr. Hobley, the latest writer on the people, suspects a totemic origin ; and they are sub- divided into smaller groups which both Mr. Hobley and Mr. Hollis designate families, though they do not exactly agree in the numeration of either the clans or the families. Certain of these subdivisions intermarry with one another; in other cases intermarriage is not permitted, but the members marry outside the clan. These variations can only be accounted for by sup- posing that the subdivisions are in process of evolution into the status of clans. If they had been left to themselves, probably they would have attained it in due course ; but the white man has come, and no one can say what the issue will be.^

Among the Garos of Assam, also, the severance is proceeding. They are divided into three katchis or exogamous septs or clans, named Momin, Marak, and Sangma. " Some Garos declare that at one time they were all Momins, and that the other exogamous groups were formed by persons who left the parent colony and settled by themselves in distant places. The process of adding to the number of these clans is even now in progress, and Ebang, Areng, and Sira are named by some as independent exogamous groups." Though they do not appear quite to have attained this position as yet. Major Play fair entertains " no doubt that these last-named katchis will entirely sever themselves from the parent clans, and that their members will intermarry with the old stock as if it were one of the septs with which marriage is lawful."*

The Mekeo tribes of British New Guinea are in a similar position. They consist of a number of exogamous clans, called pangua, having at the present time patrilineal descent, but with traces of Mother-Right. " There is," says Dr. Seligmann, " and

^Hobley, Ethtiology of A-Kamba and other East African Tribes, p. 121.

  • Playfair, The Garos, p. 64.