Patrilineal Kin - Female Ego

The diagram below shows a woman's patrilineal kin marked in blue.

Note that a woman's children are not included in her patrilineal group.

The tracing of patrilineal descent for a female ego dipicted above glosses over a major difference between two different ways of treating women's kingroup membership and participation in patrilineal societies. In most African systems, female lineage members play important roles, sometimes crucial ones. in the patrilineages into which they were born, even though they normally reside with their husband's family after marriage. (See a discussion of Igbo women's participation in patrilinel descent groups.) In those of Europe and Asia, however, the a woman's natal group membership is much less important after she marries. Wives may even become formally incorpated as members of their husbands' lineages. For example, in ancient Rome, all children were placed under their father's authority through the institution of pater postestas, which gave him wide ranging rights in their persons and property. Upon marriage, at least under the more traditional form of cum manu union, this power was transferred from father to husband, and a wife in essence became adopted into her husband's lineage. (Stone 1997:64-66). The transfer normally included a portion of her father's estate in the form of a dowry that was inherited by her children. As such the property was passed down across patrilineal lines. A similar situation developed within traditional Chinese families, where girls were betrothed an an early age and adopted into their husband's families to be raised by their in-laws. In this situation, a woman's became a member of her husband's lineage by both adoption and marriage. (Wolf 1980:113-117).

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© 1995 Brian Schwimmer, All rights reserved
Department of Anthropology
University of Manitoba
Last updated: September 2003