Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Kinship reckoning systems / decent systems

Recommended Posts

I will be editing this post for future reference. It may be added to our info section at some point.

I am often asked about Chinese kinship reckoning systems. Can I marry my "sister/cousin?" I've always thought it was very strange to consider a cousin a sister. My anthropology class is covering some of this stuff.

One type of decent system is called monogenesis. They view the offspring to be wholly the result of the father. The mother is considered "soil" where the kid was able to come into fruition. The mother is given no credit in the lineage of the children. These kids are considered to be closer to their father's side of the family.

This is one reason some cultures green light cousin marriages on one side of the family, while making it taboo to marry a cousin on the other side. Of course, biologically (generically) there is no difference at all. A cousin on either side of your family will be related to you in an identical way. I think they share 12.5 percent of genes in common.

As for the Chinese, I have also heard that the reason for the cousin marriage taboo on the father's side may be due to the possibility of the brothers sharing one of the bother's wives. Or maybe wife swapping. I'm not sure if this was ever, in fact, a problem, or some kind of cultural taboo of the past. In sum, it could be possible for two cousins to be half-siblings and not even know it if this wife swapping was indeed a common practice in years past.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


My understanding of it is that this is about the same reason, culturally, cousin relationships have developed the stigma they have in India. The whole "cross cousin/parallel cousin" business. As you have pointed out, GENETICALLY, there is no difference, unless of course, brothers are sharing a woman, knowingly or not, and sisters are similarly sharing a man.

As much as the Indian parents have a total and complete meltdown when they discover their cousin children are in love, I bet I could REALLY make them blow a gasket if it were my parents. I would show them the science, then, I would show them the cultural reasons it is considered taboo. Then, I would say "Now, we are NOT brother/cousin-sister/cousin. See? Unless, of course, THERE'S SOMETHING YOU FOUR AREN'T TELLING US...." And then, let the REAL high speed come-apart begin, LMAO. And I'm going to tell you, so help me Lord, if I were in that situation, I WOULD do it. I guess that's why my family don't pull my chain, HAHAHA  :tongue:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this