Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/353

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The Religious Basis of Social Union.


the group obviously belong to their brothers, who form an impenetrable and privileged aristocracy : they are allowed to exist for their uncles' profit, and are severely nurtured in their code. Hence a system^ which is crudely called matriarchy {e.g. amongst the Khasis of Assam or the Madis of Albert Nyanza) — though it is very often found where the status of women is low : hence, too, the rights of the maternal uncle, until late years a standing puzzle all over the world, and found even amongst our Teutonic ancestors with male descent.

4. The next contract — we may call it third or even fourth — is between some neighbouring group, which has perhaps been wont to supply these humble bridegrooms and also wives for the Elders by violent capture : the classical instance is the junction of two exogamous tribes into one under Romulus; in place of mutual fear and raiding excursions there is an alliance which enables men to marry, no doubt under the strictest law and State super- vision, but without actually fighting for the bride, without disturbing the peace between neighbours, without rousing the undying blood-feud.

5. We have at this stage a group bifurcated by a careful dualism, a group which is in the highest degree non- natural and artificial. For the higher mammals (with which even on the Darwinian hypothesis man has closer affinity than with the Vi^olf-pack) the only natural group is the father with his wives and children, living (I fear) not in the strictest monogamy, for which the birds set so lofty an example, but frankly jealous and exclusive — each group or family living as far apart from neighbours as any Eoer farmer could wish — in the significant phrase of Tacitus

1 Cf. the Akha setUements in N. Burma (Shan State of Kengtung) with the Chinese quest-bridegrooms. The villages are known as Khochias or Com- munities of Guests. So the Cambodian betrothed has to ' do menial service ' for the girl's parents {thvo bainto). The Banks Island custom (indeed duty) of jeering at and insulting the husband of one's aunt (father's sister) is almost certainly derived from this inferior position of the client-bridegrooms.