Bronislaw Malinowski on the Anthropology of Marriage - Peter Myers, July 2, 2004; update January 23, 2011. My comments are shown {thus}.

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For the last 30 years, the West has been experimenting with the abolition of marriage, as was done in the Soviet Union until Stalin reversed it: sex-soviet.html.

This policy has been brought to the West under the label "Feminism". It is trying to replace Sexual Complementarity with Angrogyny: engagement.html.

It is based on the erroneous Anthropological theories of Lewis H. Morgan, which Frederick Engels adopted (with Karl Marx' endorsement) in his book On the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State: in the Light of the Researches of Lewis H. Morgan (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1948).

I present here the refutation by Bronislaw Malinowski of the ideas of Morgan, Marx, Engels and Briffault, upon which Feminist theory is based.

Malinowski is best known for his studies of the sex and marital life of the Trobriand Islands people, who recognise descent in the female line (i.e. matrilineal). He showed that although they are as "sexually liberated" as anyone could be, yet they insist that every child have a father. Girls are allowed to have sex freely before marriage, but not allowed to become mothers without having a husband.

I myself visited, as an Anthropology student, a village of the Aroma area in East Papua, in 1971/2, which seems similar to the Trobriands.

Their culture was quite different from the Patriarchal culture of the New Guinea Highlands.

Malinowski's study shows the errors of the Marxist/Feminist experiment in doing away with Marriage and the Family. He argues that this is disastrous.

(1) An example of Trotskyist use of Morgan's and Briffault's arguments
(3) Malinowski - Matrilineal Trobrian society considers Fathers essential
(4) Malinowski - Sex and Repression in Savage Society
(5) Malinowski - The Sexual Life of Savages

(1) An example of Trotskyist use of Morgan's and Briffault's arguments

Is biology a woman's destiny? (feature article)

The Militant, Vol. 68/No. 17 May 4, 2004

{The Militant is a Trotskyist newspaper; Pathfinder Press a Trotskyist publisher}

The following are excerpts from the pamphlet Is Biology Women's Destiny? by Evelyn Reed, published by Pathfinder Press. Reed, a longtime leader of the Socialist Workers Party and a prominent spokesperson for the women's liberation movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, argues that women's oppression arose late in human history as a product of the rise of class society. It is copyright © 1972 by Pathfinder Press, reprinted by permission. Subheadings are by the Militant.


Many women in the liberation movement, especially those who have studied Engels's Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, have come to understand that the roots of women's degradation and oppression are lodged in class society. Quite correctly they have coined the term "sexist" to describe the capitalist social system, the final stage of class society, which discriminates against women in every sphere of life.

What women remain unsure about, however, is whether or not their biology has played a part in making and keeping them the "second sex." Such uncertainty is quite understandable in a male-dominated society where not only is history written by those who uphold the status quo but all the sciences are likewise in their hands. Two of these sciences, biology and anthropology, are of prime importance in understanding women and their history. Both are so heavily biased in favor of the male sex that they conceal rather than reveal the true facts about women.

Perhaps the most pernicious pseudoscientific propaganda on female inferiority is that offered in the name of biology. According to the mythmakers in this field, females are biologically handicapped by the organs and functions of motherhood. This handicap is said to go all the way back to the animal world and makes females helpless and dependent upon the superior male sex to provide for them and their young. Nature is held responsible for having condemned females to everlasting inferiority.

It is obvious that females are biologically different from males in that only the female sex possesses the organs and functions of maternity. But it is not true that nature is responsible for the oppression of women; such degradation is exclusively the result of man-made institutions and laws in class-divided patriarchal society ... .

Have women always been oppressed? Since the rise of the women's liberation movement some women writers and even anthropologists have become so influenced by these unscientific propositions that they have drawn a very pessimistic conclusion. Women, they say, have been the oppressed sex not simply under patriarchal society but throughout all human history. According to this view, if women were not subjugated to their husbands and fathers as they are in patriarchal nations, then they were under the thumb of their brothers or uncles in primitive communities. This can be called the "avunculate theory" of female oppression. What is the truth of the matter?

There are a number of primitive communities scattered around the world where old matriarchal practices and customs survive to a greater or lesser extent. These are usually called "matrilineal" communities because the line of kinship and descent is still traced through the mothers alone. But the matter goes deeper than this. In such regions the father-family is still poorly developed. A man may be recognized as the husband of the mother and yet not be recognized as the father of her children, or, if recognized, has only an extremely tenuous connection with them. As this is usually expressed, the children belong to the mother and her kin.

This means that the children belong not only to the mothers but also to the brothers of such a matrilineal community. In other words, the mothers' brothers, or maternal uncles, still perform the functions of fatherhood for their clan sisters' children that in patriarchal societies have been taken over by the father for his wife's children. For this reason such a community is sometimes called "the avunculate." The term "avunculate" refers to the mother's brother as the term "patriarch" refers to the father.

These matrilineal communities are survivals from the matriarchal epoch and, however much they have been altered since the patriarchal takeover, testify to the priority of the earlier social system. In fact, by the time anthropology began in the last century, most primitive clans had already become altered in their composition to a certain degree. Pairing couples, or what [Lewis] Morgan called "pairing families," had made their appearance in communities that had formerly been composed solely of clan mothers and brothers (or sisters and brothers).

But the pairing family, which was still a part of the collectivist maternal clan system, was a totally different kind of family than the patriarchal family which came in with class society. A new man from outside the clan was added to the maternal group - the husband of the woman who became his wife. However, while the husbands participated in providing for their wives and children, so long as the clan system prevailed the husbands remained subordinate and even incidental to the mothers' brothers.

[Bronislaw] Malinowski writes:

{quote} Social position [among Trobriand Islanders] is handed on in the mother-line from a man to his sister's children, and this exclusively matrilineal conception of kinship is of paramount importance ... people joined by the tie of maternal kinship form a closely knit group, bound by an identity of feelings, of interests, and of flesh. And from this group, even those united to it by marriage and by the father-to-child relation are sharply excluded. {endquote}

{The article omits to mention that Malinowski came out against Morgan's claims of Group Marriage, and against Briffault}

Matrilineal communities

The pioneer anthropologists of the last century found many examples of matrilineal communities passing over to patrilineal and patriarchal forms of social organization. As E. Sidney Hartland sums up the evidence, patriarchal rule "made perpetual inroads upon mother-right all over the world; consequently matrilineal institutions are found in almost all stages of transition."

The position of women in some of these surviving communities-in-transition remained largely unaltered, and they continued to enjoy economic independence and social esteem. In other regions, however, particularly those in which class relations, patriarchalism, and male supremacy have been superimposed upon a rude economy, women became as degraded as their sisters in class society. In such regions women can be as much oppressed by their brothers as by their husbands and fathers.

Australia is often offered as proof of the debased condition of primitive women. But, according to [Walter] Spencer and [Francis] Gillen, the highest authorities on the central tribes, there is a "great gap" between the old traditional period and the present. They conclude that the women formerly occupied a far different and higher position than in recent times.

Robert Briffault, summing up this and other reports, maintains that patriarchalism, male domination, and the debased condition of women are "features of comparatively late origin" and have supplanted a former condition of female influence and esteem. "The Australian natives are not only a primitive, they are in many respects also a degraded race," he says, and that is why male domination, once instituted, proceeded to "its extreme consequences." This should not be surprising in a continent where, through disease and other causes, the aboriginal population of 500,000 was reduced to 50,000 within a century after the coming of the white man.

In sharp contrast, there are many regions in which matriarchal customs have been preserved and there is no such debasement either of the women or of the men. Such examples can be found among the North American Indians, where male supremacy and oppression of women were nonexistent until they were brought over, along with whiskey and guns, by the civilized settlers from Europe. Briffault cites the following from the missionary J.F. Lafitau:

{quote} Nothing is more real than this superiority of the women. It is in the women that properly consists the nation, the nobility of blood, the genealogical tree, the order of generations, the preservation of families. It is in them that all real authority resides; the country, the fields, and all the crops belong to them. They are the soul of the councils, the arbiters of war and peace. {endquote}

One of the most interesting confrontations between the Iroquois men and the white men who looked down upon women as the inferior sex is cited by Briffault. The chosen orator of the Iroquois, "Good Peter," addressed Governor Clinton in this manner to explain the high esteem of the Native Americans for women:

{quote} Brothers! Our ancestors considered it a great offence to reject the counsels of their women, particularly of the Female Governesses. They were esteemed the mistresses of the soil. Who, said our forefathers, brings us into being? Who cultivates our land, kindles our fires, and boils our pots, but the women? Our women are the life of the nation. {endquote}







Edited with an Introduction




Boston 1956

{NB: Montagu, like Malinowski, was an Anthropologist. Montagu's endnotes to the text are included, at the end}


M. F. Ashley Montagu: Introduction 2


1. Bronislaw Malinowski: The Present Crisis in Marriage 20
II. Robert Briffault: The Origins of Patriarchal Marriage 30
III. Bronislaw Malinowski and Robert Briffault: What Is a Family? 40
IV. Robert Briffault: The Business Side of Marriage 54
V. Bronislaw Malinowski: Marriage as a Religious Institution 64
Vl. Bronislaw Malinowski: Personal Problems 74

Textual Notes 86


The six chapters which make up the present volume were delivered as a series of broadcasts over the British Broadcasting Corporation. They were simultaneously published in the official journal of the B.B.C., The Listener (London) in the six weekly issues beginning on 7 January 1931 and terminting with the issue of 11 February 1931. The talks are reprinted here for the first time. Two words which in their English context are quite inoffensive have been changed to their acceptable American forms. One of the same words has been dropped because of redundancy. These changes were made in chapter four. For the rest, the chapters stand exactly as they were printed in The Listener, to which journal thanks are due for having made them available.

The text is reprinted here through the courtesy of the editor of The Listener and the British Broadcasting Corporation.



In 1927 Robert Briffault's three-volume work The Mothers was published. I read this enormous work in January 1930 and found it interesting, powerfully irritating, bold, challenging, often wrongheaded, and well-peppered with what appeared to me as original insights. The author, in addition to being an extraordinarily well-informed and industrious researcher, was also clearly a man of wit and style. Whatever one thought o his main thesis, one could not but help admire his artistry. Biffault's literary manners were something else again.1 I had been a student of several of the authorities who appeared to be Briffaut's particular black beasts. The anthropologist who was the victim of Briffault's severest criticism was referred to in a manner which can perhaps best be described as a combination of insinuation and innuendo. Since something of both the injustice and the flavour of Briffault's polemical writing is typi-

{p. 3} cally exemplified by the reference I have in mind, I had beter quote it in Briffault's own words.

{quote} The views of Father Lafitau have, however, been revived by a Finnish writer who was introduced to the English public by Alfred Wallace, one of the authors of the theory of natural selection. Dr. Wallace entertained, among other peculiar views, the opinion that the law of evolution, while applying to all other forms of life, did not extend to the human race, which he regarded as the product of a special creation. Edward Westermarck, Dr. Wallace's protege, taking little note of the discoveries of the founders of scientific anthropology concerning the principles of primitive social organization, "boldly challenged the conclusions of our most esteemed writers," and "arrived at different1 and sometirnes diametricaily opposite, conclusions."2 That revival of the doctrines of the seventeenth century Jesuit theologians was set forth by Dr. Westermarck with an industry in the collection of biographical references which outdid that of all previous writers, and with a dialectical adroitness not unworthy of the reputation of his noted predecessors. {endquote}

And so on at great length. What Briffault, in fact, accused Westermarck of was the equivalent of selling stock in a non-existent oil well. Briffault, in effect, accused Westermarck of dishonesty. This, to anyone who knew Westermarck, was a preposterous charge.3 I felt that Briffault had done Westermarck a great injustice. Since he also aimed several undeserved shafts at another of my teachers, Bronislaw Malinowsli, with whom I was then still working, I felt impelled to do something toward correcting Briffault's unfortunate misjudgement. Since, also, in reading Briffault's own astonishing tour de force it had seemed to me that he had not been clearly understood, in that he had been saddled with the view that Motherright was at one time the universal institution, whereas I had read him as principally attempting to prove that the nature of many human institutions was largely influenced by the functions of motherhood, I decided to put things straight, if I could, with Briffault. I therefore wrote him inquiring as to the correctness of my

{p. 4} judgment of his thesis, and at the same time indicated to him how seriously he had misjudged Westermarck. Since Briffault's reply is not without some interest, I reproduce it here. It is dated 4 February 1930.

{quote} Dear Sir,

Thank you for your letter. You are quite right in not identifying my views with the conception of "Mother-right," which I have expressly disclaimed. In an abridged edition of The Mothers which will appear shortly I have avoided some sources of misunderstanding which, it seems, I did not take sufficiently into account in the first edition.

I am glad of what you say about Westermarck. I have not met him, but from what I have heard he must have a charming personality. I feel no animosity whatever towards him, but cannot help feeling some distress at the attitude of the scientific public generally in England which has accepted him so tamely. I like to think that he is incapable of a dishonest motive. The worst of it is that one cannot charge him with ignorance. How then is one to explain for example, his account of the Igorots (The Mothers, ii, pp. 49 sqq.)? Such instances present an interesting psychological problem.

I am too busy at present to go out too much, but I shall be very pleased to see you at any time you would care to come. Could you come to tea next Tuesday (11th)?

Yours sincerely,

Robert Briffault. {endquote}

In those days I kept a journal, and there is a full record in it of my visit to Briffault. I arrived at 4:30 for tea and, like the man who stayed dinner, did not depart until 11:30 that night! It was the beginning of a friendship which lasted until Briffault's death in 1948.

After several visits with Briffault I suggested that he ought to meet Westerarck and Malinowski. In time a meeting was

{p. 5} arranged, Westermarck inviting Briffault and his wife to tea at The London School of Economics. The tea took place on the 30th April 1930. I introduced the Briffaults to Westermarck, Malinowski, and Morris Ginsberg. Differences were reconciled, and Briffault was invited to present a paper at Westermarck's seminar the following week. This Briffaut did on the 7th of May. It is recorded in my diary that it was excellent, but what it was about I failed to record, nor can I now remember. After the seminar there was tea once more in the Senior Cornmon Room, with Malinowski, Westermarck, Ginsberg, rhe Briffaults, and myself attending.

Malinowski was much taken by Briffault. In many respects their pesonalities were not unlike. Both were Europeans rather than nationals in any narrow sense, they were urbane, witty, and bon vivants. Both spoke half a dozen European languages with ease, and they were interested in the same subject. They liked each other. Malinowski, as he told me, was going to see what he could do by way of helping Briffault to some permanent berth. One of the first things to develop this way was a series of broadcasts over the B.B.C. which Malinowski had been invited to give. He had suggested that Briffault also be invited to participate, and the suggestion had been adopted. And this is how what might have been a beautiful and enduring friendship came to an end. Malinowski and Briffault prepared their talks in manuscript and submitted them to each other. Discussions followed which became increasingly more acrimonious, so that by the time the seventh talk in the series was to be given, which was to have been a discussion between Malinowski and Briffault, and after literally some two dozen drafts of it had been made, the final "debate" was abandoned. This explains why the final two talks, in the series of six here reprinted, are by Malinowski, and why Briffault is not represented by a "last word." Ours is the bss, as theirs was, too. It would have been valuable to have the joint summing-up by Malinowski and Briffault, and it would have been so much more pleasing had they rernained friends. But it was not to be.

{p. 6} Were it not for the fact that Mrs. Briffault had sent me copies of The Listener, the official publication of the British Broadcasting Company, in which the broadcasts were published immediately after they were made, I should probably never hare known that thq had been printed. Malinowski had told me in 1936 some of the details of his quarrel with Briffault over these broadcasts, but I don't recall that he referred to their publication. Since I already knew of their publication the point is not important. I mention the matter here only because these six most interesting printed broadcasrs might have fallen inito a bottomless pit so far as their being remembered is concerned. Only recently I had to draw their existence to the attention of a bibliographer of Malinowski's writings who had omitted nothing but these broadcasts from his list.

After twenty-five years this discussion of "Marriage: Past and Present", as the broadast series was originlly entitled, is for the first time reprinted and appears for the first time in book form in the present edition.

Since the original publication of these six broadcasts in The Listener twenty-five year ago, much research has been done on marriage by social scientists, and many changes have occurred in the mores of the civilized peoples of the world. To what extent does this great body of social research in any way affect the conclusions of Malinowski and Briffault? How have the social changes which since 1931 have taken place on so widespread a scale, virtually throughout the world, affected the institution of marriage in the light of Malinowski's and Briffault's discussion? How do the contributions of each of these workers measure up against the findings of contemporary social science, and especially of anthropology?

Since in what follows I propose to attempt something of an answer to these questions, the reader who desires to enjoy Malinowslii and Briffault unbecommentated is advised to stop reading here, and go straight to the text itself. After he has

{p. 7} read that, he can return to the following section of this Introduction for the answers to the above questions.

Malinowski's references to marriage and divorce in the Soviet Union are unusually interesting in the light of the revisions in the direction of "bourgeois" practices which he Communists have had to make. Even before 1931 the Communists had been forced to return to a "bourgeois" conception of the family, and they were soon to discover that since, as in all societies, the family is based on marriage, it is impossible to play tricks with the one without affecting the other. The Communists, being essentially men of blueprints and Five-Year Economic Plans, committed the error of trying to put economic planning before human relations. It is impossible to put economics before human relations for the simple reason that economics is a function of human relations - and not the other way around, as the Communists were to discover from their own experience. Malinowski points out how nineteenth-century reformers and enthusiastic socialists "preached free love and sexual communism by reference to the ape and his matrimonial entanglements." Such thinkers were largely influenced by the anecdotal anthropology of their day, and there can be not the least doubt that, as Malinowski states, it also greatly influenced the planning of the Soviet State. Karl Marx was himself deeply read in that literature, as was Engels. One has but to recall the writings of Charles Letourneau, who wrote one book on The Evolution of Marriage and another on Property, the writings of the brothers Elie and Jacques Reclus, Karl Kautsky, Kropotkin, and numerous others all either in the anarchist or communist tradition, to realize how deeply influenced these social revolutionaries were by the primitive anthropology of their day. It is not surprising to find that the Communists, even in the second half of the twentieth century, largely disregard the findings of twentieth century social anthropology and cleave to those of the nineteenth century. A fascinating book begs to

{p. 8} be written on the relation between nineteenth century anthropology and the Communist conception of human social institutions. Not all, but a good deal of nineteenth-century anthropology was half-baked. Its theoretic implications were often unsoundly based, and the practices based on such theories were bound to end in failure. The Communists tried the experiment of collapsing the family and marriage, and found that neither the family nor marriage were, as Pravda had insisted, "personal matters." By 1946, marriage, divorce, and abortion were returned to the jurisdicrion of the State, and were no longer at the personal discretion of anyone. Family limitation is no longer the mode, but large families are now actively encouraged by monetary and other material awards. The Communists have been forced to accept some of the irreducible facts of life.

In Italy divorce is again legal, and the Draconic penalties one attached to birth control by Mussolini have been removed. Professor J. B. Watson, with his statement that "In fifty years here will be no such thing as marriage", has once again been proved profoundly wrongheaded. If there is one thing we can be certain of as anthropologists, it is that marriage will endure as long as human society endures. There is no society known to athropologists without the institution of marriage, and it is highly improbable that there could ever be such a society.

To the prophets of family doom Malinowski's simple answer "rubbish," is still the most appropriate reply it will always be. After a qurter of a century - a very short time in the history of mankind - anthropologists fully subscribe to Malinowski's conclusion "that marriage and the family always have been, are, and will remain the foundations of human society." Never was a scientist's prediction more fully relized than Malinowski's words in his final talk: "The reforms of Fascist Italy and of Soviet Russia alike will, I am convinced, lead to the same resulkt: a return to the old order of marriage and family based neither on absolute freedom nor on complete and rigid compulsion."

{p. 9} Briffault's criticism of patriarchal marriage was a most valuable one when it was made, and one would like to think that it played some part, if not perhaps as great a role as A. P. Herbert's novel Holy Deadlock (1934), in influencing legislative opinion in the direction of liberalizing the marriage and divorce laws of England. Whether, in fact, Briffault's trenchant criticism, made here and elsewhere in his writings, of marriage laws weighted in favour of the male had any effect upon legislation I do not know. The tracing of such relationships is not always possible, but if words do influence conduct one cannot help but think that somewhere in the minds of some English legislators Briffault's words may have had a reverberative effect.

In reading Briffault it is necessary to remember that he was pleading a special case, namely, the matriarchal theory of social evolution. Briffault had arrived at this theory quite independently of his much earlier predecessors in that theory Bachofen (1861) and McLennan (1865). In the Preface to The Mothers (1927) Briffault tells us how he arrived at the theory.

{quote} I had proposed to draw up a list of the forms of the social instincts, and to investigate their origin. I had not proceeded far before I discovered, to my surprise, that the social characters of the human mind are, one and all, traceable to the operation of instincts that are related to the functions of the female and not to those of the male. That the mind of women should have exercised so fundamental an influence upon human development in the conditions of historical patriarchal societies, is inconceivable. I was thus led to reconsider the early development of human society, of its fundamental institutions and traditions, in the light of the matriarchal theory of social evolution. {endquote}

Briffault's whole thesis is stated in these words. He explicitly rejected the view that there had ever been any society in which women ruled as the dominant sex; by "matriarchy" he meant that in earlier societies the interests, desires, and functions of women played a much more important role than they are permitted or acknowledged to do in civilized societies, and that

{p. 10} women had influenced the social organization of human societies very much more considerably than was generally understood or admitted.4

As I have said, Briffault was a special pleader, and this greatly mars the presentation of his case in The Mothers. The same fault is apparent in his debate with Malinowski. Furthermore Briffault is often inaccurate, as will be apparent from the notes at the end of this volume. Briffault was one of the most erudite men of his time, and at the same time a man of violent enthusiasms. When he became enamoured of a viewpoint nothing could stop him, and like a river in flood he would carry everything before him. Unlike Malinowski he was not a scientist. He was a brilliant, and often prejudiced, thinker. The one element in scientific work that Briffault did not understand is that the good scientist, when he becomes enamoured of a theory, not only sets out to collect the evidence which will support it, but as zealously seeks for any and all evidence which will refute it. Briffault did not fail to deal with the evidence that was opposed to his theory, but he was convinced from the beginning that such evidence, since it did not fit his theory, must be wrong, and so he attempted to dismiss it - only too frequently by arguments ad hominem. It is the greatest pity, because the combination of his literary manners and his special pleading repelled many of his readers.

In the two essays and the debate with Malinowski by which he is represented here, Briffault is in quiter voice, though the special pleading is still evident. What was, in part at least, behind Briffault's enlistment in the cause of matriarchy was his abhorrence of injustice, and in this case the injustices practised by men upon women. He was not a feminist, but he felt, as he wrote in the final words of the one-volume edition of The Mothers that "The practical lesson which the true history of the relations between the sexes does seem to point is that mutual co-operation between them and social equality are more conducive to the smooth working of social organisation than any form of

{p. 11} sex antagonism." It is partly in the light of this belief of Briffault's that his contributions here reprinted should be read.5

The crucial chapter in this book is the third in which Malinowski and Briffault debate the question "What is a Family?" It is here that the differences between scientific anthropology as represented by Malinowski and the clever theorising of the library-anthropologist as represented by Briffault are clearly brought out This chapter alone would have made the book worth publishing. The issues between the two schools are here seen more sharply and succinctly presented than one would be able to find anywhere else in the whole realm of anthropological literature. What is the original nature of the family? Was group-marriage ever a reality? What is the meanirg of polygamy? What, in fact, is marriage? Was sexual communism ever a reality? The answers to these questions are brilliantly illuminated in this memorable discussion, and it may be recorded that contemporary anthropology is completely on the site of Malinowski and against Briffault. Group-marriage and sexual promiscuity as cultural institutions have long since been relegated to the Museum of Anthropological Curiosities.6 If the facts have gone against Briffault, however, we nonetheless remain grateful to him for putting the case for the matriarchal school of social evolution so dearly.

Briffault, in chapter four "The Business Side of Marriage," makes several assertions which are unwarranted by the facts. Similar assertions have often been made by other writers on this subject. The first is "that in every quarter of the globe and in every age" the transaction of marriage "rests chiefly, and in most instances exdusively, upon economic considerations." The second is that romantic love is absent among "savages." In emphasizing the sacramental nature of marriage in chapter five Malinowski provides the proper emphsasis, and by implication denies the validity of Briffault's suggestion that "in the lower stages of society" marriage is an economic transaction. It is, indeed, doubtful whether there are any societies in which marriage rests either chiefly or exclusively upon economic considera-

{p. 12} tions. BriffauLt's statement to this effect is typical of his method, when it pleases his fancy, to take a part for the whole. Furthermore, it is wholly to misunderstand the namre and meaning of the transactions involved.

When, for example, a groom among the peoples of East Africa makes a gift of cattle to his future father-in-law, the gift represents something vastly more than, and significantly different from, a "payment" to the father for the loss of the economic services of his daughter. The gift is made as a social means of regularising a relationship between a man and a woman who by their union will involve two extended families and almost certainly two clans. The cattle and other gifts are actually contributed by the members of the extended family of the groom. Such gifts are in turn redistributed by the bride's father to his relatives, perhaps those who on a former occasion helped him gather the cattle which made possible the marriage of his own son. The recipients of the gifts thus widely distributed among the relatives at the time of the marriage become more than ever responsibly involved in maintaining the stability of the marriage. Those who participate in a dowry tend to have certain obligations to the married couple and their children. The "bridewealth" (or "brideprice") functions as a socially stabilizing mechanism, such economic effects as it may have being purely secondary to this. By its payment a wife is not purchased, and she does not become her husband's property or chattel.7

As for Briffault's denial of the existence of romantic love among "savages," Malinowski, in the fifth chapter, has sufficiently made the proper risposte. Both in The Mothers and in his book Les Trobadours et le Sentiment Romanesqe (1945) Briffault attempted to show that the concept of romantic love was a late development of civilized societies. This is largely true, but it does not follow that therefore romantic love does not exist in uncivilized societies. Anthropologists know only too well that in many respects civilized societies have a great deal to learn that is "advanced" from so-called "primitive" societies. In the sense in which we often misguidedly think of the non-literate peoples

{p. 13} of the earth as "primitive," there are none, in many respects, so primitive as the civilized. All anthropologists are evolutionists, but Briffault was an orthogenist, a straight-line evolutionist, so that if a trait was found to be a late development in civilized society that fact constituted prima facie evidence for Briffault that it could not have existed in a primitive or non-literate society. The concept of reticulate evolution was unknown to Brifault. This orthogenism combined with his particular prejudices made it impossible for him to interpret the evidence correctl.

It is refreshing to find Briffault saying, "Human beings are, I firmly believe, naturally sympathetic, affectionate, and kind hearted." Such scientific evidence as bears upon this statement which has accumulated during the last quartet of a century fully supports that dictum.8 In the Age of the Atom Bomb and the Death Instinct, however, this view is having a hard time getting itself established.

Briffault's leaning toward communism was either the cause or the effect of his tendency to see all human institutions as having been economically determined. It is not surprising, therefore, to find him asserting that "The patriarchal privileges which modern women are disposed to resent are founded in the last resort upon economic advantages" And he goes on to add that "They are not founded upon the possession by men of superior physical force or superior brains, but in the possession of a superior banking account."

This is the equivalent of saying that the privileges of the French in Algeria and of the British in India were founded not on the possession by these colonial powers of superior physical strength, but in the last resort upon economic advantage. Could any argument be sillier than that? Of course the economic advantages were there, but it was superior physical strength that made them possible for the colonial powers, just as it is greater muscular power which has enabled the male throughout history to enforce his will upon the female. Of course women have been economically dependent upon men in many cultures, but

{p. 14} that economic dependence is brought about by many other factors in addition to the male's greater muscular power. The division of labour between the sexes in all societies, and the fact that women bear, nurse, and care for children tends to make the female more sedentary than the male. Under certain conditions she can be encouraged to become largely dependent upon the male for her sustenance - but this is by no means the case in all societies. In non-literate societies, as a rule, both sexes must work in order to live, and that necessity to work has nothing whatever to do with the patriarchal or matriarchal structure of society. It is no argument whatever to say that because women in non-literate societies are not as economically dependent upon men as are women in modern patriarchal societies, therefore patriarchal society cannot be supposed to represent the primeval condition of the human race. It is greatly to be doubted whether human societies were ever universally one thing or the other. They are not so now and it is unlikely that they ever were.

Briffault's hope that marriage will become "more and more a private contract" is an overintellectualized hope which rather sadly reveals how little he really understood of the meaning of society. It is the greatest error to conceive of marriage as a matter of private interest. A couple may be attracted toward each other and marry for purely personal reasons, in short, because they are in love. But the contract they make with each other at marriage involves far more than their private selves. Every marriage immediately involves two or four extended families. There may also be involved different ethnic, religious social, and other groups. And intelligence and justice lies in realizing that marriage is not merely a private affair between two persons but that it consists, in addition, in the creation of many new extended relationships and responsibilities. One doesn't simply marry a person, one marries into that person's family. This being so, no marriage can with intelligence and justice, ever be conceived as a private agreement between two persons. The State also has an interest in every marriage, and that interest consists in more than simply supplying a marriage certificate.

{p. 15} The families related thus by marriage and the State enter into the agreement. While quite true as far as it goes it is an unintentional oversimplification to say, as Malinowski does, that "marriage is a binding contract between one man and one woman for the establishment of an individual family." This was perhaps an unavoidable way of putting what Malinowski had to say in arguing the case against group marriage. That the State enters into the marriage agreement should be obvious, for without the sanction of the State there can be no marriage, nor can there be a dissolution of that marriage without its consent. In non-literate societies a marriage involves the 'marrying families' in all sorts of new relationships and obligations, prescribed and regulated vis-a-vis each of the members of the 'marrying families.' There are, for example, the elaborate mother-in-law and other avoidance relationships, maternal avuncular obligations, cross-cousin relationships, affinal relationships, sexual prohibitions, and the like.9 The importance, in addition, of religious sanctions need not be dealt with here, as they have been sufficiently emphasized by Malinowski in chapter five.

In our own time, in the Western World, marriage is rapidly losing its religious character, and increasingly tends to becorne a secular arrangement. Even the solemnities of a church service have tended to become secularized, being often made the occasion for conspicuous consumption and much-valued publicity. What was at one time a religious service is often turned into a stage-managed performance. The forms are maintained, but they have been emptied of virtually all their original meaning, as is borne out by the fact that many couples without any religious affiliation whatever will go through all the motions of a church wedding because it is considered locally the thing to do. Increasing numbers of marriages, in this and the other sense, are celebrated outside the church. To those for whom science has become the secular religion of the day, Malinowski, far from urging the abandonment of the sacrament of marriage, on the contrary shows that the institution of marriage and the family can be endowed with new values which can render their stability and sacredness as great as they have ever been.

{p. 16} Malinowski's summing-up in the sixth chapter puts the case as clearly as could be for marriage always having been an individual arrangement as opposed to marriage as or between groups. The conclusions of contemporary anthropologists on the matter are resumed in the words of Murdock, "In fine, there is no evidence that group marriage anywhere exists, or ever has existed, as the prevailing type of marital union." 10

Amusingly enough while Briffault, as Malinowski says, was unwilling to affirm the existence of group-maternity - and quite rightly - the phenomenon has actually been shown to exist in at least one human society, namely, among the Kaingang of Brazil.11 Among the Kaingang the co-spouses are either siblings or first cousins, and the children of a man's wives regard the latter as their mothers. But it must also be pointed out that in the same society the children of a woman's husbands regard the latter as their fathers. Group maternity is no more the rule in this society than is group paternity; both co-exist. The evidence indicates fairly clearly that the Kaingang are a society in state of dissolution, and in no way can be taken as typical of anything other than themselves.

Malinowski asks the question: "Will women give over their infants into the hands of the State to be brought up as foundlings or communal babies?" The creches of the Communists have gone, but in Israel a new experiment has come into being, namely the kibbutz. In the kibbutz the working parents leave their children for the greater part of the day in charge of a competent personnel. The arrangement is a community one, and it seems to work very well. The kibbutz, however, is not intended to be a substitute for the family, but a means of taking care of children while the parents are away during the working day.12 Such experiments are interesting, and in Israel represent the solution of a difficult problem, but they no more suggest the direction in which the family is developing than a refugee camp constitutes a pattern for the permanent status of humanity. Kibbutizm, creches, and refugee camps constitute temporary devices pending the return to normal conditions. The biologically normal state of the basic human biologic group is the family, consisting of

{p. 17} parents and their children, and we can be quite certain that nothing will ever permanently change that fact. Since the family is based upon marriage it is similarly possible to predict the permanence of that institution. And this is what Malinowski does in the last of the talks printed in this volume.

During the quarter of a century which has elapsed since this dehte on "The Future of Marriage" took place between Briffault and Malinowski the status of women in many parts of the world has markedly improved. The increasing political and social freedoms which women enjoy have greatly, and beneficially, affected the institution of marriage. The marriage service no longer requires women "to obey" their husbands; and husbands on the whole, it is generally agreed, are the better for the improvement in the status of their wives. In spite of rising divorce rates and broken families, marriage and family relationships have undergone fundamental changes for the better. With the increasing freedoms which both sexes are reciprocally enjoying, and the recognition of the rights and sanctity of the individual regardless of sex or other group membership, there has occurred an improved understanding of the meaning of marriage and the family.

The general increase in divorce rates is not to be regarded as an evidence of the breakdown of marriage, but may be looked upon rather as a symptom of the adjustment to a world of values which are in transition from the old to the new. The new freedoms have brought with them increased responsibilities; and freedom itself (as witnessed by the democratic process) is a responsibility which it takes time to learn. The high rates of divorce are but an evidence of the increased freedom of the individual, and freedom is a good thing, and so are many of the divorces between persons who should never have married in the first place. The prolongation of a marriage which has failed is destructive to all concerned - especially from the point of view of the children, whose happiness and fulfilment is all important. There are also some divorces which should never have occurred.13

What we have learned during the last twenty-five years is that we have to do more than we have in the past towards pre-

{p. 18} paring young people for marriage in a relationship which today demands more understanding than was ever before necessary. At he same time we need to do what requires to be done towards the education of adults in the meaning of marriage - its problems, challenges, and rewards. In these matters the young wlll always learn most from the adults upon whom they model themselves - and such models are best provided by the parents.

Happily, in the western world, there are many evidences that the problems of marriage in a world in transition are receiving increasingly serious attention. There are today marriage councils, marriage counselors, experts, journals, syndicated columns, articles, books, radio and teleision prograrns where formerly there were none - all devoted to assisting the individual to arrive at a better understanding of the nature and meaning of marriage. The problems of marriage are now for the first rime receiving the benefit of scientific study. The expectation may legitimately be entertained that as a result of the multiplicarion of such activities marriage is likely to become more stable and divorces fewer than they have been in the recent past and are at present. Towards this end the present volumne may be ofFered as a small contribution.

Princeton, N. J.

M. F. Ashley Montagu




Within the last generation or two the conditions of life have undergone profound and revolutionary changes. We are all feeling that we have been thrown into a new world, and not a very comfortable world at that. Whither are we moving? In which direction are we going to be driven? Even in the last anchorage of peace, even in our own home, we seem to be threatened.

What is the present situation as regards marriage and the family? Traditional morals and the legal framework of domestic life are undergoing disquieting changes. There is a crisis in marriage and there is a great deal of noise about it. Let me add at once for your comfort that there is more of the noise than of the crisis. But there

{p. 21} is some substance in the view that family and marriage are becoming modified; that they are threatened by certain influences; and that wise reforms are needed in order to safeguard their future.

Let us have a look at the facts all around us. Most startling of all, we have, in Soviet Russia, revolutionary experiments on a vast scale. Here a number of remarkable enactments have modified the juridical character of marriage almost out of recognition. Marriage, in the eyes of the law, has completely ceased to be a religious institution. It has almost ceased to be a legal contract. It is regarded as a sociological fact. Marriage comes into being when two people of opposite sex decide to live together, to share a household, to co-operate economically. The registration of marriage is not a creative act which constitutes a legal reality. It is merely a proof of its existence. Nor is this proof indispensable. Divorce, again - or, as it is called in Soviet Russia, the cessation of marriage - takes place when the tvo consorts actually separate. This may be registered, but need not be so. Marriage ceases to exist when it ceases to exist.


Communist marriage is thus, in the eyes of the law, a perfectly free and voluntary arrangement. Adultery is not a legal offence. Bigamy is not punishable by law. In juridical theory it is, therefore, possible in Soviet Russia to establish what the sociologist calls 'group marriages' or communal unions. That is to say, several men and several women may run a com-

2{p. 22} munal household, and indiscriminately share as much of their lives as they like.

Sensational as this idea seems, and novel and daring as the experiment might appear in a young and revolutionary society, group marriage is a very old and, to the anthropologist, a familiar concept. Many a learned student of human history believes that man started his matrimonial career without the institutions of monogarny or individual marriage - groups of people mating with other groups, and producing children who did not recognise any individual parents and who were communally tended and nurtured. Some revolutionary reformers, notably the enthusiastic German socialists of the nineteenth century, preached free love and sexual communism by reference to the ape man and his matrimonial entanglements. These writers have, in fact, influenced modern Russian theory and practice, and here you see how anthropology has affected, not to say misguided, practical affairs. I, personally, speaking as an anthropologist, do not for one moment admit that group marriage has ever been practised in any human society however primitive, nor do I believe that marriage and family life will degenerate to any appreciable degree in modern Russia, in spite of any legal opportunities and loopholes. But there are eminent scholars even now who assume that group marriage was the early form of mating.


Returning to Russia, the deepest changes have been brought about in the Soviet home by the legal dissocia-

{p. 23} tion of kinship and marriage. There the relations of mother and father to children are based on parenthood, and not on the contract of marriage. Illegitimate children are, therefore, set on the same footing as those born in wedlock; and a dissolution of marriage does not alter their legal relations to father and mother respectively.

If I were to add that Soviet law fully allows, not to say encourages, all practices of family limitation, that is, has made abortion legal, that there are no punishments for incest, some of you might be disgusted and scandalised, others, perhaps very enthusiastic. But please do not allow your emotions and your political views or sympathies to interfere with your dispassionate interest in these facts. I want to rule out all political bias and all moral judgment. What we are after are the facts and a clear understanding of them. And in this it is by no means easy to assess rightly what is happening in Russia. We must remember two things: first of all, that what I have described to you is the letter of the law, and not the facts of life, and these two do not always coincide. In the second place - and this is even more important - you must remember that in human society, as in nature generally, it is impossible to foretell the results of an experiment - except by making the experiment and watching the results.

We hear that present-day Russians are abolishing the church wedding and the legal contract of marriage. Is this such a tremendous revolution? Nothing of the sort. Marriage without any contractual act is even nowadays practised in Scotland, a country not obsessed

{p. 24} by the spirit of communism. It is also allowed in several States of North America, and it was approved by canonical law right through the Middle Ages up till the Council of Trent.

Take the facility of divorce, again. Does it make marriage completely nugatory? In Ancient Rome repudiation even by one consort legally made an end to the union. The repudiation by the husband of the wife is the accepted form of terminating an orthodox Jewish marriage. And, as we shall see from the subsequent discussion, the facility of divorce does not seriously upset marriage, for its stability does not rest upon legal compulsion only. The difficulty thus consists in understanding what the foundations of family and marriage really are. And it is here that the comparative study of marriage in primitive and civilised societies alike can help us.


I chose the most sensational example of legislative experiment to show you under the magnifying-glass of revolutionary reform the difficulties of the problem in assessing what crtain changes really mean. I might have taken the reforms of Fascist Italy, which have, one and all, the opposite intention - that of strengthening marriage and the family. In Italy divorce has now been made illegal. Draconic penalties are attached to any attempt mechanically or surgically to limit the number of children. The whole institution has been placed very much under the control of the Roman Catholic Church and of the State. We might have considered equally Turkey, India, or the United States. In all such

{p. 25} cases, whether we feel appalled or enthusiastic about the reforms, we should like to know what are the guarantees of the future; what can the sociologist forecast? Nor is it only the vast legislative experiments which might well make us feel profoundly anxious. All around us we see signs more or less significant and disquieting. To most people marriage has always been rooted in religion and morality. At present, however, the general trend seems to be towards a civil conception of marriage. Among other consequences, this affords greater facilities for divorce.


Take domestic morality, again. Two elements exercise a far-reaching influence - the economic independence of woman and the mechanical means of fertility-control. Even a generation ago, the daughter was sheltered by her home and the wife remained under the supervision of her husband. Today, a woman demands freedom and independence, and she must have it in order to contribute her economic quota to the household. It is impossible to supervise her; the double standard of morality must go. Either man must allow his mate the same freedom as he has always been granted; or else we must base a new charter of strict conduct for both sexes alike on mutual trust, respect, and understanding. Economically, again, the household is not what it used to be. What with the difficulty of domestic service, the facilities of joint kitchens and dining-rooms, the home is no more the only place of convivial reunin.

{p. 26} In the nursery, also, things appear somewhat gloomy. Childbirth, from a ceremonial and essentially domestic event, is rapidly becoming a clinical fact. Among the working classes, the infant has often to be taken away from the mother soon after weaning or even before. The State subventioned and controlled school is to a large extent replacing the educational and moral influences which, up till recently, were vested exclusively in the family.


All these facts are certainly disquieting. One and all raise the question: is this a symptom of a deadly disease in our body politic; is this an indication of the downfall of the family and marriage? The prophets are not wanting. 'In fifty years there will be no such thing as marriage'. So speaks Professor J. B. Watson, the founder and leader of the Behaviorist School. Lesser lights join the chorus and vociferously frame an indictment of the family and prophesy its proximate disappearance. Listen to the chorus: 'The home is illimitably selfish, psychologically egocentric, spiritually dwarfish and decivilizing'. And again: 'The family is unnatural'. And again: 'The family is the factory of feeble-mindedness and insanity'. And the moral: 'The family must go; the sooner the better'. All these are quotations from the chorus of what we might call 'misbehaviourists'. 'Misbehaviourism' is the label which I like to affix to this group of noisy, amusing, and aggressive publicists. The brief answer to all such theories and views is - 'rubbish'.

{p. 27} Marriage and the family are undergoing a change, nay, passing through a crisis. To close your eyes to it, to say that all is for the best in the best of matrimonial worlds, would be as shallow and as unscientific as to prophesy the downfall of the family. Some changes are necessary; but these will not affect the essential constitution of the family.

I think we shall have to establish a single standard of morality, a greater legal and economic equality of husband and wife, much greater freedom in parental relations and a greater tolerance of children towards their parents. But all this will leave the family and marriage conspicuously unaltered, in spite of all the din and dust of controversy. Why, what is the moral to be drawn even from Soviet Russia? The plain fact is that family life seems to be going on there steadily and happily; that marriages are entered upon and that they are carried on satisfactorily. Do they divorce twice a day? On the contrary, they live for years in satisfactory unions. There is something bigger in human marriage and the family than the legal framework by which it is usually bound together.

Why do I so confidently affirm the strength and permanence of marriage and family? Because my conviction is derived from the scientific study of the two institutions, extended over the widest compass of human experience, that embraced by anthropology. This science teaches us, that marriage and the family are rooted in the deepest needs of human nature and

{p. 28} society; that they are associated with progress, spiritual and material.

The real task of anthropology consists in giving us insight into the essentials of marriage and the family, as well as the understanding of their value for society. Many a student of man still strains his imagination in order to visualize the beginnings of human marriage, in order to diagnose how original man or his ancestor, the ape, mated. And then this is set up for our imitation. The hunt for origins and their use as a precedent is an unprofitable but, unfortunately, only too common manner of using anthropological evidence.

I shall not argue, therefore, that modern marriage is valuable because the chimpanzee practised strict monogamy. I shall, however, in the course of these talks, prove to the best of my ability that marriage and the family always have been, are, and will remain the foundations of human society.




Professor Malinowski reminded you last week that our marriage institutions have come in of late for a good deal of criticism. He mentioned some of the causes of that matrimonial unrest. I shall refer to one only, not the least in importance. The criticism comes not from the East or from the West, from Bolshevists or from American misbehaviourists. It comes chiefly from the women of England. It is called forth by certain features of our marriage institutions which, while they make husband and wife one, seem to provide that the husband shall be that one. The subordinate position of the wife is indicated by her vow of obedience, by the legal and economic disabilities under which she labours,

{p. 31} by her obligation to assume, not only her husband's name, but to set aside her very nationality and assume his.

Those and similar features of our institutions constitute the patriarchal conception of the marriage relation. That conception can be traced in the history of culture. It is embodied, as you know, in the Pauline doctrine. 'Wives,' says the Apostle, 'submit yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord. Let the wives be subject to their husbands in everything. Let them be discreet, chaste, let them stay at home and obey their husbands.' Ancient ecclesiastical law authorized a man to enforce those principles by beating his wife with a whip. Those patriarchal principles were largely taken over by the early Church from Greek and Roman usage. The poet Menander speaks in almost the same terms as St. Paul. 'Silence, modesty, and to stay quietly at home,' he says, 'are the most becoming virtues in a wife.' Roman tradition was, you know, strenuously patriarchal. 'Our fathers,' said the elder Cato, 'have willed that women should be in the power of their fathers, of their brothers, of their husbands. Our fathers have bound down women by law, and bent them to their power.' Roman tradition was exactly similar to that of the ancient Hindu. The laws of Manu laid down that, 'No act is to be done by a woman according to her will. She should worship her husband - even though he be of bad conduct, debauched, devoid of every quality - as if he were a god.'

Sir Henry Maine, the great authority of Victorian England on social history, taught that those patriarchal

{p. 32} features of our institutions represent 'the primaeval condition of the human race,' and a school of anthropologists which has enjoyed great influence and popularity in England has expounded the same theory of social origins. The characteristic doctrine of that school is that, as things are now, so they have been from the beginning, and ever shall be. The question is not one of merely historical interest. The real question which the evidences of anthropology are called upon to elucidate is whether the sentiments with which existing institutions are regaraed are part of human nature or are products of culture and social tradition.


If we survey the marriage usages of various peoples at all stages of culture, we find that they differ profoundly in many respects. The difference which in the light of our own tradition is most apt to attract attention is that, while among Christian nations monogamy is of the essence of the marriage relation, that principle is not recognised in Oriental or African cultures, or in fact in any of the lower phases of culture. It was indeed set down for the first time as a legal obligation during the sixth century of our era by the emperor Justinian.

But there are differences even more fundamental between the more primitive forms of marriage and those obtaining in advanced cultures. With most civilised peoples and many uncivilised ones the custom is, as with ourselves, for the wife to join her husband,

{p. 33} leaving her own people and her home, and to form a new family of which the husband is the head. But we find that among an enormous number of peoples in the lower phases of culture that arrangement does not occur. Instead of the wife joining her husband, the husband joins the wife, who remains in her own home and among her people. The women never leave the social group in which they were born; their husbands either come to live with them, or simply visit them. Thid form of marriage is called matrilocal, as opposed to our own patrilocal usage, and is found to be the usual custom over four continents. It was the universal native custom among all the races of the American continent, from the Eskimo of Balin Bay to the Firelanders of Cape Horn. Thus, for example, among the Indian tribes of North America, 'the woman,' we are told, 'never leaves her home. The children belong to the mother. The father takes up his abode with his mother-in-law. No matter how many children he might have in the house, he might at any time be ordered to pick up his blanket and budge.' Or again, among the tribes of the Orinoco, 'the women never follow their husbands, but it is the husbands who follow their wives. From the moment that a savage takes a wife, he no longer recognises his own home. It is thus the fashion with all savages that the sons go to other people's homes and daughters remain in theirs'. The same custom is still found among all races in Africa: among the Pygmies of the Congo forests among whom the camps consist of brothers and sisters, their wives and their husbands living in some other camp; among the Bushmen, who leave their own band and join that of their wives; among

{p. 34} the Bantus of Nyasaland and Kenya; in the Sudan, among the Tuareg of the Sahara. Altogether, the rule that women remain in their own home or group after marriage, and are joined by their husbands is the native custom of from one-third to one-half of the peoples of the uncivilised world,1 allowing, of course, for the breaking up of all native customs in the last few decades by contact with Europeans, missionary and others, which greatly discounts the value of any investigation carried out at the present day.

{see endnote 1: Montagu shows that Briffault is wrong here}


The higher question arises, which is the older custom - for the wife to jain the husband or for the husband to join the wife? In point of fact, wherever the patrilocal form of marriage obtains there is abundant evidence that the matrilocal usage obtained formerly:2 {see endnote 2: Montagu shows that Briffault is wrong again} whereas there is no evidence among the people who observe the matrilocal form of marriage that they ever had any other. The conclusion appears clear that the matrilocal form of marriage preceded the patrilocal, or patriarchal, form. The matter can be put to an exact test. Except in Christian countries, whenever a man removes his wife from her home and brings her to his, he has to make a payment for the right to do so. The transaction is often spoken of as purchasing a wife. But, except in some slave-holding countries, it is not regarded in that light. Long after the establishment of Christianity in northern Europe, the idea survived that a woman who had not been adequately paid for was not properly and respectably married. Among the

{p. 35} Christianised Negroes of South Africa at the present day payment of the bride-price is often made in secret, so as to satisfy the parties of the legality of the contract and of the legitimacy of the children. The payment is made in some form or other wherever the wife goes to live with her husband and becomes a member of his family. It is nowhere made where she does not join him. The payment, then, is made not to purchase a wife, but to purchase the right to remove her to her husband's home, in other words, to establish the patriarchal form of marriage. In many parts of the East Indies the native custom of matrilocal marriage obtains s by side with the patriarchal Islamic custorn in the same community. When the latter is adopted, a payment must be made; when the native usage is adhered to, there is no question of payment. The arrangement with which we are familiar is thus a privilege originally acquired by paying for it.

{But in Hindu and Greek custom, even now, dowry must be paid by the woman's side to the man's side. This is not called "buying a husband". Nor is brideprice "buying a wife"}


It is I think, obvious that where a woman remains in her own home and among her own people after marriage, the patriarchal principles embodied in our own institutions cannot be effectively enforced. It does not follow that the women lord it over the men. There are doubtless henpecked husbands and oppressed wives under any form of marriage. But the legal status of the wife who is joined in her own home by her husband cannot be the same as that of the wife who leaves her people and assumes her husband's name and nationality. And in fact, with the usage of matrilocal

{p. 36} marriage are found associated a number of other usages which differ profoundly from those obtaining in patriarchal societies. Kinship and descent are reckoned in the female line exclusively;3 fatherhood is left out of account. A child takes his mother's, not his father's, name. He belongs to her clan, not to the family of his father. The latter has no claim of any sort over the children. They do not inherit from him, but from their mother and from her brothers. Landed property is not vested in the men, but in the women.

Those conditions have given place to patriarchal institutions only where men have devised means of exchange or have acquired privlte property, notably in the form of cattle, which has enabled them to purchase those rights that have become part of the tradition of patriarchal civilisations. As Sir Henry Maine rightly stated, the pastoral societies pictured in Hebrew records present the type of patriarchal societies. But the pastoral societies in which men acquire by the payment of a bride-price the right which was denied to Jacob, to remove, even after twnty years, his wife and children to his own home, do not represent by a long way the primeval condition of the human race.


The great Puritan poet represented the first parents of mankind as perfectly patriarchal:

For contemplation he and valour form'd
For softness she and sweet attractive grace,
He for God only, and she for God in him.

{p. 37} The poets and the popular anthropologists of a patriarchal society like Puritan or Victorian England like to think of established institutions as 'the primeval condition of the human race.' The assumption did no great harm so long as women accepted the established tradition, and were content to be submissive, obedient, and ignorant patriarchal wives. But the assumption of Adam-and-Eve anthropology ceases to be harmless when women are no longer content to derive resignation from its assurances. When they are protesting against patriarchal principles, they are under the impression that they are rebelling against the institution of marriage, against that association and co-operation of the sexes which lies at the root of all social culture and of the sentiments of civilised humanity. In reality they doing nothing of the sort. They are raising the protest of equity and common sense against traditional principles which are, historically speaking, of late origin. That a man and a woman who are attracted to one another should agree to share life in mutual devotion is one of the most satisfactory arrangements which social culture has brought into being. But it is an arrangement the success of which is not provided for by natural instincts. Above all, it is an arrangement the success of which is not promoted by moral coercion, by appeals to authority, by the dictatorship of tradition. Those things are the very opposite of human affection. Marriage is not helped but imperilled by assuming them. When the husband, imbued with patriarchal principles, having signed the legal contract in the vestry or register office, considers that the woman's part of the bargain, the dedication of her body, her love, her devotion

{p. 38} to him, the dissolution of her interests in his, must follow automatically by a natural law, as the result of eternal moral obligations, of dispositions dating from primeval humanity, he is being misled by what appears to me an erroneous and tendencious anthropology into the most tragic of disasters. Those apparently harmless edifying anthropological speculations are in a measure responsible for converting the most precious of social relations into the most tragic. The chief condition for the success of marriage is to know what one is about. To know the truth about social relations and institutions means to know their origin and history. You may perhaps now perceive why the unprejudiced study of anthropology, of the manners and customs of savages - a subject which may seem to you idle, boresome, and even repellent - has a most important bearing upon the deepest facts of life. You are all anthropologists, just as you are all prose writers and all metaphysicians. You have definite notions as to what is and what is not part of human nature and of the natural condition of mankind. Only the examination of anthropological facts can show whether those notions are or are not correct.






Bronislaw Malinowski: Last week, Briffault, you developed the theory of primitive mother-right, and you attacked the patriarchal point of view. Since, as you know, I am not a supporter of the Adam-and-Eve theory of marriage origins, nor yet an anti-feminist, I neither can, nor wish to, accept your challenge. But there was another point in your talk with which I definitely disagree, and there I am quite ready to join issue with you. All you said last time implies that individual marriage is a late invention - an artificial product. According to you, if I understand you rightly, the original domestic institution was a communal body - the maternal clan, based on group-marriage and on joint parenthood. I, on

{p. 41} the other hand, unreservedly affirm that the individual family has always existed, and that it is invariably based on marriage in single pairs.

Robert Briffault: The word 'family' covers a variety of meanings, precisely because the conception and constitution of the family have undergone many changes. Family, in Latin familia, meant a man's goods and chattels, his man-servant and his maid-servant, his ox, his ass, and his wife. Or, again, when we say that the cat has a family, we are not referring to a group consisting of papa, mama and baby. Papa, as a matter of fact, is not there. The animal family consisits essentially of mother and young. As I indicated last week, the primitive human family resembled the animal family more closely than does the civilised family. It consists essentially of mother and children. Only, there are several generations of mothers and children. Those accumulated generations constitute the maternal clan. The maternal clan, then, is a family. It is not a social or political institution consisting of associated families. The individual family of which you speak, that is the family consisting of papa, mama and baby, in other words the patriarchal family, does not exist side by side with the maternal clan. The latter takes its place and is just as much a family as the patriarchal family. As to its being monogamous, you know very well, Malinowski, that if I were to ask you to name a single undisputed instance of a monogamous savage tribe I would be placing you in an embarrassing position, and I have no wish to do that.

Malinowski: It depends on what you mean by 'monogamous marriage.' If by monogamy you under-

{p. 42} stand the absolute rule that a man can have only one wife and a woman only one husband at a timc then this Christian and civilised monogamy is of late development. But marriage in single pairs - monogamy in the sense in which Westermarck and I are using it - is primeval, unless, that is, you assume the existence of group-marriage. I do not argue against the sporadic and rare occurrence of polygamy. I argue against the existence of communal or group-marriage. Now, polygamy, or plurality of wives, does not mean communal marriage. It, in fact, implies the existence of individual marriage.

Briffault: That's all very well, but you still seem to me to beg the question by using the phrase 'individual marriage' in an ambiguous sense. I think I must press you to a clearer definition of what you intend by individual marriage.

B.M.: By individual marriage I mean a legal contract between one man and one woman, guaranteeing to each mutual rights and obligations, and guaranteeing to the children a legal status. Polygamy, on such a definition of marriage, is a series of individual contracts. And it is the existence of individual marriage that you and your school are denying. I want to thrash out the question, then, whether marriage is essentially an individual contract, or, as you maintain, a state of group-relationship. In discussing this we touch on an issue of the greatest actuality and importance. I have shown that the fight in defence of marriage is nowadays on two fronts; parental communism versus the family, and

{p. 43} sexual communisn versus marriage. The communistic legislator objects to marriage, because marriage is, for him, a capitalistic institution, a sort of economic enslavement of woman. He is also out to undermine the individual influence of the home, that is, of the child's own parents, because to him the State, the Community, the Workers' Union ought to educate the future citizen from his early childhood. The modern Hedonist and Misbehaviourist is bent on destroying the home since this is to him the synonym of boredom and repression. To quote the words of a modern Misbehaviourist: 'Home is the place which does make idiots and lunatics of all of us.' The Misbehaviourist also believes that sex is 'for recreation and not for procreation.' He must, therefore, attack marriage and banish to a communal creche the occasional and accidental children. The anthropologist is, then, faced vith a question: Is communal parenthood compatible with human nature and social order? I flatly deny that it is. You, on the other hand, uphold the possibility of group-marriage an group-parenthood. In your learned and brilliant work, The Mothers, you have given a renewed currency to the concept of communal parenthood, nay of group maternity. Let me quote your words: 'The clan, like the family, is a reproductive group.' And again you maintain that the clan is a 'group depending upon certain ultimate relations, reproductive and economic'. And you are not alone. The great Cambridge anthropologist, Dr. Rivers has it in cold print: 'A child born into a community with clans becomes a member of a domestic group other than the family in the strict snse.' Now,

{p. 44} to me, all this is Greek. You surely don't mean that the clan is really a reproductive group in the same sense as the farnily?

R. B.: I most certainly do. The maternal clan is, as I said before, a family group, not a group of families. The assumption that there can be no other form of family, no other reproductive group, than that consisting of papa, mama and baby will no doubt appear very natural to most people, but it is not scientific. The beehive, that extremely matriarchal group, is purely and solely a reproductive group and nothing else. It is a family, but it is not a patriarchal family. I go as far back as the bee-hive because by doing so we escape altogether from conventional and traditional definitions. The definition of what is a reproductive group is here given by nature herself, and she ought to know. I might adduce many other examples of family groups among animals constituted in the same way - of generations of mothers and young. The maternal clan which both you and I find to be the basis of social organisation, in lower cultures is in the same manner a family, the foundation of kinship, that is, a reproductive group, not a social fiction. You may, to be sure, point out that the germs of the paternal or, as you say, the individual farnily, may be found at the present day in conjunction with maternal clans which, after thousands or perhaps millions of years, are no longer primitive. But I need not tell you that such individual associations do not represent the whole of the relation betveen men and women, for you have yourself amply illustrated the fact in your own researches. The organi-

{p. 45} sation of the maternal clan regulates not only social relations in general, but also the relations between the sexes. It is, therefore, a reproductive group in the same sense as the hive of bees, or any other form of family, is a reproductive group.

B. M.: Let us leave the beehive on one side and concentrate on the human family. You define 'group marriage' as 'a limitation of sexual freedom and promiscuity.' But this makes 'marriage' embrace all sorts of temporary and occasional relations. Now, to me, marriage is something infinitely bigger and more complicted than mere sexual relations. Marriage means to me a community of household, common work, and common interests; in short, a co-operative economic unity based on a legal contract and very often on religious and moral ideas. Marriage is thus to me a legal, economic, and often a religious institution associated as much with parenthood as with the personal relations between husband and wife. My view, then, implies that there can be no group-marriage without group-parenthood. Remember that Dr. Rivers, who first put forward the famous hypothesis of group-motherhood suggested that its real home was in Melanesia. Now, for this very reason, in my own field work in Melanesia, I made a special study of motherhood. What did I find? There is no doubt at all that native custom, law and morals attach an immense importance to maternity. They surround motherhood with a whole set of moral and legal rules - we might almost speak of a religious cult of the mother. But this cult, far from communalising motherhood, makes it emphatically an individual

{p. 46} relationship. One woman and one woman only is bound to the child which is of her body. These natives have no strong views about pre-nuptial conduct. Yet, with all this, if a girl is to become a mother she must be married. So that society decrees that children must be born in wedlock. They must have one mother. They must also have one father. This is the more remarkable because these natives have no idea as to the physiology of fatherhood. They believe that a spirit-ancestor places a tiny baby in the mother's body where it develops.1 Individual marriage once concluded, the wife is allowed to become a mother and her husband is, by the fact of marriage, recognied as the individual father. Paternity is established by the contract of marriage.2 The existence of group-parenthood assumed by Rivers in Melanesia we may dismiss as an exploded myth. There is a story of an old lady in Cambridge who, hearing about Dr. Rivers' theory of group-motherhood, philosophically remarked: 'You can see at once that Dr. Rivers has never been a mother himself!' Without vishing to be personal, I would like to say the same thing to you, Briffault. I spoke only about Melanesia, but I am certain that every old woman in Asia, in the Malay Archipelago, Australia, Africa, or in the South American jungle would endorse the wise criticism of the old lady of Cambridge.

R. B.: That a man can have only one mother does not prove that he can have only one wife. Your ingenious argument no more proves that the Victorian family is the prototype of human society than it proves King Solomon to have been a monogamist. The Tro-

{p. 47} brianders, of whom you have made so admirable a study, are patriarchal, or well on the way to becoming so. The men have established patrilocal marriage, so far at least as to keep their children with them until puberty, when they return to the maternal clan and the protection of their maternal uncles. But it is quite impossible to generalise from one island to the whole of primitive humanity. Had you carried out your investigations in some other parts of the same region, not a hundred miles away, you might have come upon slightly different arrangements in which even the rudiments of patrilocal marriage and of paternal guardianship do not exist. I shall not adduce the opinion of any anthropologist, but the very words of a Papuan native called A. 'One of your wives will be a woman living in another village, B; another in C, a third wife in D, and so forth. No wife lives with you in your village, but it is your business to visit them in their villages. The children of those women belong to the village and to the tribe of their mothers, so that you have no children in your village. But your sister lives with you and a man from another village visits her. Her children are counted to your clan, not to his. Thus your own children stay in other tribes, but your sister's children live with you.' The savage child, before the establishment of patriarchal marriage, is thus certainly not born into the family of the father, but into the clan of his mother. The latter is a reality, the former has neither name nor existence. It has never occurred to any savage or to any anthropologist to suggest that a child is born from several mothers, though the savage does, as a matter of fact, call every

{p. 48} one of his aunts 'mother.' But where marriage is purely matrilocal, his mother's relatives do look after the child and his father does not. The savage father is, in my experience, considerably fonder of children than is the average English father, but he does not regard them with a possessive feeling, and is equally fond of them whether they are or are not his progeny. Even should he take a more serious view of his parental obligations than do most civilised fathers, he is rigidly debarred by tribal law from fulfilling them. Those obligations devolve not on the father, but on the children's uncles. It is under the influence of their mother's peoples that they grow up, it is loyalty to them, not the honouring of their father and mother, which is inculcated by tribal tradition, by tribal ceremonies, by tribal organisation. Let me quote the words of another savage, an American Indian this time. 'You white people,' he said to a missionary, 'love your own children only. We love the children of the clan. They belong to all the people, and we care for them. They are lone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. We are all father and mother to them. White people are savages; they do not love their children. If children are orphaned, people have to be paid to look after them. We know nothing of such barbarous ideas.' Kinship and affection are even closer ties in primitive, than in civilised society. But they are rooted in the maternal clan and not in the paternal family.3 I do not say that the germs of the paternal family are nowhere to be found in societies which, at the present day, are no longer primitive. But they are overshadowed throughout uncultured humanity by the sol-

{p. 49} idarity of the maternal clan, which is the only recognised social group, and are, therefore, the germs of a later growth.

B. M.: Some of what you said just now appears to me not quite relevant. The Papuan native, whom you quote, merely describes cases of multiple polygamy distributed over several villages. The fact that a man has several wives in different localities does not convert his wives into group-mothers. It still less makes him into a group of fathers. Moreover, a child born into a household occasionally visited by the father still remains born into his father's household and not into the maternal clan. Your statement from North America, on the other hand, is quite to the point. As it happens, I have spent some time among the most matriarchal Indians of North America, among the Hopi of Arizona. They talk about the brotherhood of the clan even as we Christians speak about the brotherhood of mankind, and it means precisely as much. It is possible to be too credulous even about what a native tells you. And again, you have taken King Solomon's testimony against me. He was certainly not a monogamist. Nor did I accuse him of it. But he was a wise man and, if you remember his judgment, it went dead against communal maternity. The most important link in my argument, however, is the question of group-maternity. You constantly spoke of the clan as a domestic institution; and this conception, I maintain, implies the existence of collective maternity. As in every individual family there is one mother who is the pivot of family life, so in this collective household there would have been a sort of 'collective

{p. 50} mother,' that is, a group of mothers. On this group-motherhood I did harp constantly, but I think you failed to give us any clear instances. In fact, the hypothesis has been seriously advanced only with regard to Melanesia, and there, I can assure you, group maternity does not exist. And without group maternity, I maintain, there can be neither group marriage nor yet can the maternal clan be a domestic institution. Parenthood and, above all, maternity, is the pivotal point in the anatomy of marriage and family: on this you, Briffault, and I fully agree. We also agree that women will have the last word in deciding what the future of marriage is to be, even as they probably always had the first say in matters of love, marriage, and parenthood. Women now claim freedom. They want to share more fully in our national life, whether working in factories or in the professions, whether debating in Trade Union Councils or in Parliament. But women still have to become mothers and they still desire motherhood as deeply as any savages or any mid-Victorians. To us, as well as to most savages, love and playing at love is still clearly distinct from marriage. The savage makes love early in life and often experiments with infatuation and with sex. This is true also of the continental peasants, and also, to a large extent, of the wider masses in all European countries. I should say that a man in any country or at any level of culture marries when he wants children; or, more truly, perhaps, marries when his sweetheart desires to have children. And then the biggest tie between them comes into being. Now the question of the future is whether women will cease to be interested in mater-

{p. 51} nity. If women still intend to keep up the vocation of maternity, will they still insist on carrying it on under the system of individual maternity, or will they prefer to give over the children to creches and communal institutions? Will a woman, however intelligent, feminist, or progressive, consent to undergo the hardships and dangers of childbirth in order to give over her child to a glorified foundlings' hospital or State incubator? Here again you know my answer: maternity is individual, has been individual, and will be the most individual of social forces. Finally, if woman is still to be a mother and an individual mother at that, will she choose to have her sweetheart as a mate and as a father to her children? Will she still desire him to stick to her and to share the responsibilities of parenthood? These three questions contain the essence of all marriage problems, past, present, and future. It is incorrect, I think, to regard the marriage contract as established mainly in the interests of the husband. It is quite as much at least a charter and a protection to the woman. Most men would consent to be drones easily enough; but no sound social order can allow them to do this. And here, I think, is the most fundamental point of the debate, namely, that marriage and family are based on the need of the male to face his responsibility and to take his share in the process of reproduction and of the continuity of culture. Another important issue is one of unlimited collectivism versus individualism. I think that the fairest answer will be that it is as incorrect to say that at any time of human development, past, present, or future, the human being can be exdusively a commu-

{p. 52} nist, as to maintain that he ever has been an exclusive individualist. Both forces are at play in marriage and the family as well as in economic organisation.




Our Victorian grandmothers were - though the fact is apt to be overlooked - revolutionaries. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the bold ideas of the French Revolution were still thick in the air, the more intelligent among our grandmothers revolted against the attitude which had been prevalent that marriage was purely a social and sordidly economic arrangement - so much dowry against so much income. Our intelligent grandmothers were great novel readers. And the usual theme of the Victorian novel was the triumph of love over lucre. That was a quite revolutionary idea, and scandalized many old gentlemen in those days. Up to that time there had been a notion in

{p. 55} English society - and to a far greater extent in continental society - that a love-match was a rather scandalous thing and certainly not quite respectable. Such an event gave rise to a considerable amount of whispering behind fans. Victorian sentiment constituted a bold and subversive revolution in the general attitude towards marriage. We find the attitude of early Victorian old gentlemen repeated among the Negroes of the Gold Coast. In a court of law there it was argued lately by the Negro Counsel for the prosecution that a certain couple were not really and respectably married and that their children could not be regarded as legitimate; for the couple, the lawyer alleged, had married for love. That is regarded in most savage societies as a very scandalous state of affairs, but the sentiments of decency of savages are not often subjected to such an outrage, for the occurrence is extremely unusual.

When an Australian black is asked why he marries, which he does when he is getting on in years and is thinking of retiring from the more active pursuits of life, he answers that he requires a wife to fetch sticks for his fire, to cook his dinner, and to attend to his household arrangements generally. He does not say that he marries her because he loves her or because his instincts demand it. Those reasons would be absurd. The first because his notions of romance are very rudimentary, and the second because there is not the slightest occasion for him to marry in order to satisfy his instincts.1

{endnote 1: Montagu says Briffault is wrong}

If, following out the various forms of the institution of marriage, we work our way up from the Australian

{p. 56} black, through the various stages in the evolution of culture, glancing at the matrimonial arrangements of African chiefs, or Chinese mandarins, up to those of a French peasant or of an English duke, we shall find in every quarter of the globe and in every age that the transaction rests chiefly, and in most instances exclusively, upon economic considerations.2 The reason why an English duke marries is not quite the same as that for which the Australian black marries. The noble duke does not require a duchess in order that she may cook his dinner. But he requires her in order that he shall have an heir to whom he may hand down the estate and who shall carry on the family name and traditions.

I do not wish you to think that I am taking a cynical and materialistic view. Nowadays the most common motive leading to marriage is, I believe, falling in love. But here again it would be a great mistake to apply to the lower stages of culture the sentiments of our own society. Our reports and observations about savages are very emphatic and uniform as to the absence of romantic love amongst them.3 Now, knowing how very prone we are ourselves to fall in love, we may find it difficult to understand those statements and we may consider that if anything is part of human nature, surely this is. We find it dificult to realise the effects of different social conditions on human nature. This is where anthropology comes in. We live under strictly individualistic conditions in which every man's interests are more or less threatened by the antagonistic interests of other people. Human beings are, I firmly believe, naturally sympathetic, affectionate, and kind

{p. 57} hearted. But the social conditions of individual competition do not allow of their sympathy and kind hearts running away with them. We have to be on our guard. It is very seldom that we can afford to trust another human being completely. Civilised man is essentially lonely. To be released from that necessity of being on our guard, to be able to trust another human being, in other words, to be loved, is in those circumstances one of the deepest cravings of human nature. And that craving, the result of our essential loneliness, has become in our cultures intimately blended with the relation between man and woman. The conditions are quite different in primitive uncultured societ. The savage is never lonely. His social unit, the clan, is a big family. And, just as in a harmonious big family, there are not the acute conflicts of interests which compel civilised man to be on his guard and make him lonely. Consequently among savages, who are every bit as affectionate as we are, affection is not concentrated on the man-woman relation; it is diffused in the comradeship of the clan. The savage, as a general rule, is quite kind and tender to his women. But no more so to his wife than to his mother or sisters or his brothers or children of the clan. The most definite and unanimous testimonies which we have of affection between man and woman among savages refer to the devotion between very old married couples. In other words, love among savages is the result, rather than the cause of marriage. Which, by the way, seems to me a very sensible and satisfactory state of things.

The patriarchal privileges which modern women are disposed to resent are founded in the last resort

{p. 58} upon economic advantges. They are not founded upon the possession by men of superior physical force or superior brains, but in the possession of a superior banking account. The dependence of woman in patriarchal society is an economic dependence. That economic advantage of men is not necessarily the outcome of superior ingenuity, but is the result of the division of labour between the sexes. One very definite reason why patriarchal society cannot be supposed to represent the primeval condition of the human race is that such an economic dependence of the women and economic monopoly of the men does not exist in the lower phases of culture. Far from the men possessing the advantage of a superior banking account, it is, on the contrary, the women who are the producers of every form of primitive wealth.4

Where the women remain after marriage in their own home and among their people, and the husband joins them there, the children belong to their mother's clan. A child is not the heir to his father's property or to his name, he derives both from his mother and from her relatives.5 One consequence of that organisation and that form of marriage, which we call matrilocal, is that there are no illegitimate children. The term illegitimate has no meaning in the lower cultures. It has no meaning where marriage is matrilocal and a child takes its mother's, not its father's name. There were no illegitimate children in ancient Japan, in ancient Egypt. There were none among the plebeians in ancient Rome. All children being members of their mother's clan, and not of their father's family, are equally legitimate and no

{p. 59} legal contract of any kind, no religious ceremony is required to make them so. A legal contract is required to make a child legitimate only where he must inherit his father's name and property.

Among many people, such as the Samoans there are very elaborate marriage contracts and ceremonies, but only in the case of chiefs and owners of important property. The common and poor people, although they may bring up large families, are not said to marry, but to live at their pleasure in concubinage. Among the native peons of Mexico a marriage contract seldom takes place. They bring up large families of illegitimate children. They are at the present day Roman Catholics. But they are habitually content to live in sin and rear families of bastards. It does not matter to them; they have no property to transmit. It is only where property is at stake that the legitimacy of marriage, the legitimacy of the children comes to be of importance.7 A legitimate child is one capable of inheriting property from his father, and a legitimate wife is one who can be the mother of a legitimate heir.

The old doctrine that primitive humanity is monogamous is not true in the last. But it is true that polygamy8 is not extensive where the people are poor, where economic conditions, as among forest tribes, are wretched. When we rise to stages of culture where the men possess considerable wealth, which happens for the first time in pastoral societies, we find that polygamy is universal and extensive. It is in pastoral societies, and in

{p. 60} the civilisations which have developed out of them that the exuberant harems of Africa and the Orient flourish.

Tt has been otherwise in the cradles of European culture, in Greece, in Italy. There the people have never been purely pastoralists. The land is too broken. The Greeks were agriculturists from the first. And the land belonged to the women who were the original agricultural labourers. The object of the legal contract was in Greek law, to transfer the land vested in the woman to her husband's children. Men married women and their land, that is, their dowry. A woman without a dowry could not get married. In those conditions there could be no plurality of legitimate wives. Monogamy was imposed by the economic situation, and thus became the legal form of contract of Western culture, as opposed to the legal polygamy of the pastoralist societies of the East. The development of European patriarchal monogamy, of the patriarchal family, of monogamic sentiment and morality, is thus the outcome of economic conditions. Those institutions and those sentiments were imposed by Christianity upon our savage ancestors. The Anglo-Saxon synod of 786 decreed that 'the son of a meretricious union shall be debarred from legally inheriting, for in accordance with the apostolic authority of holy decrees, we regard adulterine children as spurious. We command then that every layman shall have one legitimate wife and every woman one legitimate husband in order that they may have and beget legitimate heirs according to God's law.' Thus were our marriage institutions established in England in the form in which they obtain at the present day.

{p. 61} The danger of overlooking the fact that those institutions are the product of a long evolution and have undergone many changes lies in the delusion that once marriages have been made in Heaven they can be left to Heaven's care. There is no more common cause of disaster than that anthropological fallacy. There is another kind of danger. To accept the authority of mere tradition as such is no less blind and disastrous than to reject its products indiscriminately merely because they are 'artificial.' The tradition of our marriage institutions contains many relics of modern intelligence on the mere authority of an ancient tradition. Tradition hands down the good and the evil inextricably combined. It has no authority to discriminate between them. To sift the gold from the dross in our cultural legacy is the part of equity and intelligence. Marriage and the family have in the course of cultural evolution been many different things in turn. The present crisis which that evolution is undergoing will undoubtedly result in many changes, and has already done so. Those changes must needs be in the direction of eliminating the elements of arbitrary coercion from the most personal of relations and of making it more and more a private contract. You will be told by many people that the modification in our attitude towards the relations between men and women endangers the sanctity of that relation. The reverse is, I maintain, the case. The substitution of intelligence for the authority of tradition endangers the tragedy of unhappy marriages. It endangers nothing else; it makes, on the contrary, the realisation of the ideal of marriage more attainable than it could ever

{p. 62} have been before. Marriage has rested upon instincts, it has rested upon economic conditions, it has rested upon traditional and romantic sentiments. It is to be hoped that it will rest in the future to a larger extent than in the past upon intelligence and justice.




Marriage is regarded in all human societies as a sacrament, that is, as a sacred transaction establishing relationship of the highest value to man and woman. In treating a vow or an agreement as a sacrament, society mobilises all its forces, legal as well as moral, to cement a stable union.

There is no doubt that the most primitive peoples as well as those highly developed do regard marriage as a sacrament. It has to be solemnised at sacred seasons or days; and it is usually contracted at hallowed or specially appropriate places - in churches or temples, in the public place of a village, or before the gods of the domestic hearth. Bride and bridegroom have to purify themselves

{p. 65} spiritually and bodily. They have to dress in clothes with a religious or magical significance.

The wedding rite itself has invariably a magical or a religious character. In most ceremonies the symbolism expresses the traditional view that in marriage bride and bridegroom are firmly united by a sacred bond. The joining of hands or fingers, the tying of garments, the exchange of rings and chains - so familiar to us from our own civilisation - are practised throughout the world. Usually not merely the two consorts, nor even only the families of bride and bridegroom, but the whole community are drawn in.

I have given you here a brief summary of what the wedding ceremony is - a summary which holds good for all peoples of the world: the pigmies of the Indian Ocean, the Australian aborigines, the South Sea islanders, the Indians of the New World, the natives of Africa and of Asia, and, as you know, the inhabitants of Europe. Through all this, marriage is made public and solemn. It is the announcement to all and sundry that an important legal transaction has taken place. The magical and religious form, again, which is inherent in the sacramental rite shows how deeply human beings are moved by marriage, how much they apprehend from the dangers which beset it, and how deeply they feel that they have to rely on a higher supernatural assistance.

But the point which is of the greatest importance for my argument is that the sacrament of marriage has always an exclusive and individual character. There is not one single instance of a group wedding, of a relig-

{p. 66} ious sacrament performed to unite a group of women with a group of men, and thus to give moral and religious sanction to a state of group promiscuity. The notion of a promiscuous group wedding has on its face the stigma of absurdity. This is why the advocates of group marriage, past, present or future, always underrate the scientific importance of the sacramental or religious side of marriage.


The legal and religious sanctioning of marriage, which is so conspicuous among the primitives, is still the question which agitates the reformers and moralists of to-day. Are we to secularise marriage completely and withdraw it from the control of religion, and perhaps even of law, as is the tendency in Soviet legislation and in the programme of many would-be reformers? Here the anthropologist comes in and tells you that throughout primitive humanity we find a very strong emphasis on both the legal and the religious sides of individual marriage. Is this not an indication that there must be a profound need of tribal and supematural sanctions given to the matrimonial relationship?

I think the answer will have to be in the affirmative. Some enthusiastic Misbehaviourists of to-day, with all their spurious apparatus of anthropological conjecture, would like us to believe that monogamy, religion and morality are a mid-Victorian invention. True scientific anthropology teaches us another lesson. Individ-

{p. 67} ual marriage sanctioned by religion as well as by law exists throughout humanity, primitive and civilised alike.

But, you might interpose here, the wedding ceremony just starts marriage, endows its beginnings with solemnity and pomp - but then, once the wedding is over, marriage becomes an essentially secular, humdrum relation. This is not true of our own religious conception of marriage, which, once a sacrament, remains always a sacrament. Marriage, it is said, 'was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of His Holy Name.' Now this, in a way, is true of every human community; for the procreation of children as well as their bringing-up, is to most primitive peoples a religious matter. The fact of conception is usually associated with spiritual and supernatural ideas. Conception is regarded as the reincarnation of ancestor-spirits by the natives of Central Australia, by many Melanesians, by West African Negroes, by the Bantu, and by many Indians. The coming of life links man with the world of supernatural beings. Accordingly, when pregnancy sets in, husband and wife have to submit to ritual observances and restrictions.

Birth, again, is invariably a tabooed and ceremonial occasion. There are the ritual lustrations of mother and child the naming of the child, its reception into the tribe, into the community of the believers. Marriage is kept at a sacramental pitch in the hallowing of gestation, of parenthood and of education. The family becomes a religious unit.


We repeat in our own marriage service the solemn words, 'for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till deatb us do part.' But, impressive and final as this is, it would not be enough to a great many peoples. For to many whom we regard as savages or barbarians, not even death can part husband and wife. The widow sacrifices herself or is sacrificed at her husband's grave, and that not only in India but also in Peru, in West Africa, among the Bantu, in Fiji, in the New Hebrides and the Solomon Islands, and in New Zealand. And in all communities it is the bereft consort, the widow or widower, who has to keep the deepest and most burdensome mourning, who has at times to be sacramentally divorced from the spirit of the deceased; the tie which had united the survivor to the dead one, the tie of marriage, is stronger even than death itself.


But the real importance of religious ritual is in that it expresses strong moral sentiment; the sacrament which binds two people means that these two people stand in a very intimate moral relationship. There is nothing more important to realise with regard to the institution of marriage than that it is everywhere based on love and affection. One of the most dehumanising anthropological fallacies is the notion that the savage knows no real love, that he is incapable of falling in love. Many people who write books on anthropology

{p. 69} will tell you that romantic love was invented a few generations ago - will tell you almost that it was invented by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

I maintain that among the most primitive peoples, real love, the blend of physical attraction and appreciation of personality, does exist and that many primitive marriages are based on such love. I have myself observed it in the South Seas, among the North American Indians, as well as among the Eastern and Central European peasants in slightly different forms and shades, but still the genuine article.

In most human societies there exists an almost mystical bond of mutual dependence between husband and wife. The notion is universal that the honour and success of the husband depend upon his wife's conduct, while the welfare of the wife is determined by what the husband does. In the traditional ethics of Europe, the wife's misconduct brings dishonour on the husband - a dishonour which, according to the ethics of duelling, can only be washed in blood. To the savages a similar notion tells that the wife's adultery may have fatal or, at any rate, dangerous consequences for the husand. When the Dyaks are on a head-hunting expedition, the unchastity of the wife kills her husband. On the big overseas expeditions of the South Sea Trobriand Islanders strict chastity was obligatory to the wives at home, or else the whole crew of a canoe might be drowned. It is when the husband is in peril that the wife must not only be faithful to him, but also carry out a whole series of magical rites and observances on

{p. 70} his behalf. And again, it is when the wife is ill, above all when she is pregnant and in childbed, that the husband has to be chaste and carry out a number of strict observances.

In many communities husband and wife keep their religions separate, each worshipping his or her own line of ancestral gods or guardian spirits; but each has to show respect for the other's cult. So we see that in all communities the unity of matrimonial relations is watched over and enforced by super-natural powers.

But the deeper reason for this is that such an intimate co-operation cannot work except it be based on strong mutual attachment. 'He that loveth his wife loveth himself,' is at the same time the highest ethical rule and the most adequate expression of self-interest. And it is that because it expresses the supreme sociological wisdom.


In establishing the religious side of marriage I want to show once more the immense cultural importance of this relationship, and the depths to which it is founded in human culture and tradition. As we have seen, the religious sanctions embrace the legal character of marriage, that is, they make it binding, public and enforced by the organised interests of the community. In proving that individual marriage is a sacrament I am able to show you that marriage is a binding contract between one man and one woman for the establishment of an individual family.


In this argument there is contained one of the most convincing disprovals of group marriage: for, we have seen, the primitive sacrament of marriage is as personal and as individual as our own marriage service. Parenthood, again, and especially motherhood, is, in its religious setting, emphatically individual. Group motherhood - of which there is not one single authenticated instance on record - we can discard as an unwarranted hypothesis.

The main function of religion is to standardise those sentiments and relationships which have a fundamental value for mankind. Individual marriage has been thus hall-marked as an indispensable institution from the outset. Strict monogamy has been the goal toward which the religious as well as the legal conception of marriage has been steadily advancing.

The fact that marriage, throughout humanity is a religious institution proves, then, above all that marriage is an extremely valuable institution. But it is an institution which can be maintained only at great personal sacrifice of husband and wife. On this point I am glad to be in complete agreement with Dr. Briffault.

I trust also that you appreciate that I am not speaking about the religious side of marriage in the spirit of sanctimoniousness. For I cannot honestly identify myself with any one religious point of view. In my case it would be sheer hypocrisy. But I firmly believe that the majority of people of our present civilisation are, in one way or another, religious. So let them keep their religious marriage. Even in Russia most marriages

{p. 72} are, I am informed, still solemnised in church as well as before the registrar.

But what about the many people in this country, as elsewhere, who are frankly Agnostic, that is, do not subscribe to any positive religion? Here the most important thing to grasp is that Agnosticism does not and must not mean the absence of moral values. The Agnostic has his sacred things and his sacramental relations, though he does not create them by means of the rites of an established creed. Now, by scientific analysis, we have arrived at the conviction that marriage is of the highest importance for any healthy and progressive society. The Agnostic, whose main moral foundation is laid down by reason and science, will not aim at the destruction or even at the undermining of institutions. On the contrary, he must endow the institution of marriage and the family with new values, and so make them stable and sacred in his own fashion.

In showing you that the tradition of individual marriage and family has its roots in the deepest needs of human nature and of social order, I have contributed my share to what might be called the lay, or scientific consecration of marriage.




What have we learnt from this symposium on marriage? My task is to focus the bewildering variety of facts, arguments - I might say, almost, of sentiments - which has been put before you.


I shall not dwell on the points of disagreement between Dr. Briffault and myself; they have given you a good insight into the famous anthropological disputes about the origin of marriage. The points of disagreement do not matter so very much as regards modern practical questions.

{p. 75} But out of the discussion there have emerged clearly one or two points of agreement, and these, I think, are very illuminating as the background for discussions of present-day difficulties. In the first place there was substantial agreement as to the complexity and manifoldness of marriage. You have seen that marriage is not merely a state of sexual relationship, but that it implies a common household, joint parenthood, and a great deal of economic co-operation. Marriage, as I have insisted throughout, is essentially a legal contract which usually enjoys also definite religious, that is supernatural, sanctions. As a matter of fact, the worst errors in the theory of marriage have arisen from the confusion between the legally binding, economically founded, religiously sanctioned institution of marriage on the one hand, and casual and temporary intrigues on the other. Among the New Guinea natives whom I have studied, boys and girls are allowed by custom to go through a series of more or less serious love affairs, settling down finally to a lasting liaison which eventually becomes transformed into marriage by the legal act of wedding. And this is a type of conduct which we find repeated in many other communities all the world over. Now, such temporary liaisons, which often take place in special communal houses, have led superficial observers to speak about the existence of actual cases or 'survivals' of group-marriage. Nothing could be more misleading, for the relationship which obtains between the boys and girls is absolutely different from marriage, and is clearly distinguished from marriage by the natives.

{p. 76} The second point on which there was a consensus of opinion was the value of maternity in all questions of marriage and parenthood. I personally am deeply convinced that from the very beginning it was woman who, as the mother, had the greatest influence on the forms of marriage, of the household, and of the management of children. At the same time, all my studies of primitive mankind, and my personal experiences among savages and civilised people, have convinced me that matemal affection is individuaI. And it is because of that, I believe, that the family and marriage from the beginnings were individual. You will remember that I laid great emphasis on the fact that maternity is individual. A whole school of anthropologists, from Bachofen on, have maintained that the maternal clan was the primitive domestic institution, and that, connected with this, there was group marriage or collective marriage. In my opinion, as you know, this is entirely incorrect. But an idea like that, once it is taken seriously and applied to modern conditions, becomes positively dangerous. I believe that the most disruptive element in the modern revolutionary tendencies is the idea that parenthood can be made collective. If once we came to the point of doing away with the individual family as the pivotal element of our society, we should be faced with a social catastrophe compared with which the political upheaval of the French revolution and the economic changes of Bolshevism are insignificant. The question, therefore, as to whether group motherhood is an institution which ever existed, whether it is an arrangement

{p. 77} which is compatible with human nature and social order, is of considerable practical interest.


Now on this point I can be quite dogmatic. The hypothesis of group maternity has been seriously advanced by a real anthropologist, the late Dr. Rivers of Cambridge, only with regard to Melanesia. This is, in fact, the only part of the world where there were some indications that it might have existed. But having spent several years there and made special observations on this point, I can now state positively that there is not even the slightest semblance of collective maternity there. You will notice that in our debate on the subject, Dr. Briffault was not even prepared to reaffirm the existence of group maternity. In his important work The Mothers, on the other hand, where he exposes his views so brilliantly, group marriage and group maternity form the twofold foundation of his whole argument. And, indeed, the two are essentially connected, so that if you throw overboard group maternity you must also recant the idea of group marriage, because since parenthood, as I have tried to show you, is the essence of marriage, any form of group marriage would necessarily involve the existence of group maternity. After the present recantation, then, we can perhaps assume that it is impossible to regard the clan as the primeval domestic institution.

The clans, mind you, do exist and thq are extremely important to the natives. But they fulfill special

{p. 78} functions entirely different from those of the family, and they have nothing to do with domestic life or procreation. The only relation between clan and sex consists in the fact that membership in the same clan bars a man and a woman from marrying each other, or even from courtship. This, of course, does not make the clan into a family.

What bearing has this on modern conditions?


If maternity has always been the central element of marriage, the inference is that in the future women will also have the last word in deciding what marriage is to be. Therefore, there are three crucial questions which the history of primitive marriage presents to the women of the future. Will women cease to be interested in becoming and being mothers, or on the contrary, will the maternal instinct remain as strong as ever? This is the first question. The second is: will the mothers of the future prefer to carry out individual maternity and continue looking after their own children, or will they try to call into being the hypothetical primeval clan, that is, will they give over their infants into the hands of the State to be brought up as foundlings or communal babies? In the third place, will the mother of the future desire to have the father of her child as her mate and husband, or will she prefer him to be a drone? You know my answer to every one of these questions. I believe that no human impulse is so deeply rooted as the maternal impulse in woman; I believe that it is individual;

{p. 79} and I believe that it is bound up with the institution of marriage.

The only example of real group maternity I heard of was from a farmer friend of mine; he had three geese who decided to sit communally on a nest of eggs. The result was that all the eggs were smashed in the quarrels and fights of this maternal clan of group mothers. All, that is, but one; the gosling, however, did not survive the tender cares of its group mothers. If ever another group of geese were to try a similar experiment I should like them to be aware of this precedent.


It is a distortion of the truth to attack marriage on the plea that it is an enslavement of woman by man. The analysis of primitive marriage I gave you shows that marriage is a contract safeguarding the interests of the woman as well as granting privileges to man. A detailed study of the economic aspects of marriage reveals, in fact, that the man has to prove his capacity to maintain the woman. Often, as among the Siberian natives and certain African races and American Indians, the man has to reside with his parents-in-law for some time before marriage in order to prove that he is capable of maintaining his future wife and her offspring.

The laws of marriage and family express, among other things, the demand that the male should face his responsibility and should take his share of the duties and burdens as well as of the privileges connected with the process of reproduction.


Anthropology teaches us tvo things; marriage and the family have changed; they have developed; they have grown and passed through various stages. But, through all the changes and vicissitudes of history and development, the family and marriage still remain the same twin institution; they still emerge as a stable group showing throughout the same characteristics: the group consisting of father and mother and their children, forming a joint household, co-operating economically, legally united by a contract and surrounded by religious sanctions which make the family into a moral unit.

Every society, then, teaches its members the two matrimonial commandments. The one given to the males is: if you want to possess a wife of your choice and have children with her, you will have to shoulder your share of duties and burdens. The one for the woman is: if you want to become a mother you must stick to the lover of your choosing and do your duty by him as your husband as well as by your children.

Do these anthropological conclusions profoundly modify our outlook on present and future questions? Certainly. In the first place, we do feel a considerable diffidence as regards any ambitious reforms aiming at either the destruction, or a complete re-creation, of the family by means of external coercion and legislative changes on a vast scale. The reforms of Fascist Italy and of Soviet Russia alike will, I am convinced, lead to the same result: a return to the old order of marriage

{p. 81} and family based neither on absolute freedom nor on complete and rigid compulsion.

You can see that I am not an alarmist. I do not seriously entertain any fears or doubts as to the future of marriage or the family. On the other hand, I sincerely deprecate the mere stubbornness of the moral reactionary, who refuses to see any dangerous symptoms in our present conditions and who does not want even the form of marriage and the family changed, who opposes any discussion on divorce or family limitation or on the 'revolt of modern youth.' This attitude works against the cause of true conservatism, that is, of wise reform.


The institution of marriage shows symptoms of maladjustment, as do all other institutions, for the simple reason that we are living in an epoch of rapid and profound change in the whole structure of our civilisation. Thus a wide range of knowledge and constant stimulus given to imagination and emotion have made the modern young men and women much more alive to the need of the full sexual and erotic life. Those who believe in the institution of marriage must work not at the belittling of sex, but at showing that its full attainment can only be in a life-long relationship contracted for the fulfillment of all that sex can give, and also of all its consequences. Here I think that the work of such big educational organisations as the British Social Hygiene Council, who spread enlightenment and knowledge on moderate, but progressive, lines, is of the

{p. 82} greatest importance. The eugenics movement, again, teaches us above all that love and the falling in love is not merely a phase in human life, but a matter of the greatest moment for the future of the human race. Such movements, then, will contribute towards the establishment of the marriage relationship, the basis of knowledge and of consideration for human needs.

How far we can attempt to create a science of love and love-making without becoming somewhat ridiculous and futile it is difficult to see. If any ultra-modern university were to establish a Chair of Domestic Happiness or of Scientihc Love-Making, I shuld not apply for the incumbency. But there is no doubt, however, that the pioneering work of recent contributors to the scientific study of sex are of the greatest value.

Among some other actual problems connected with marriage let me mention divorce. Here I am all for progressive reconstruction. As to family limitation, let me just remind you of the statement of the Lambeth Conference: 'in those cases where there is a reason clearly for the moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence ... other methods may be used.' The Lambeth Conference has once and for all shut the mouth of those who maintain that Christianity is incompatible with the methods of birth control, in certain cases at least.

On the whole there is nothing as important and hopeful in this question as the progressive movement on

{p. 88} the part of conservative agencies such as the Church of England or other Christian organisations. Nor is there anything as dangerous as to identify the cause of free thought and progress with a destructive attack against marriage, with Misbehaviourism and the futile and cheap attacks against the Christian influence on marriage, attacks which have been becoming lamentably frequent in the last few years.


Marriage, I conclude, presents one of the most difficult personal problems in human life; the most emotional as well as the most romantic of all human dreams has to be consolidated into an ordinary working relationship which, while it begins by promising a supreme happiness, demands in the end the most unselfish and sublime sacrihces from man and woman alike. Marriage will never be a matter of living happily ever after. Marriage and the family are the foundations of our present society, as they were the foundations of all human societies. To maintain these foundations in good order is the duty of everyone. Each must contribute his individual share, while the social reformer and legislator must constantly watch over the institution as a whole. Because, as all things alive, marriage has to grow and change. Wise and moderate reforms - reforms, however, which may go deep towards modifying the institution - are necessary in order to prevent disastrous revolutionary upheavals.




1. By far the best account of Briffault's literary temperament, and, indeed, one of the best critical evaluations of The Mothers, is from the pen of Havelock Ellis. This is a review of the latter work in The Birth Control Review (New York), September 1928 - reprinted in Havelock Ellis, Views and Reviews, Harmsworth, London, 1932, pp. 160-171. Briffault refers to this review, and makes contemptuous reference to Ellis, in his novel Europa in Limbo, Scribner's, New York, 1937, p. 47. In the novel Briffault disguises the work as a collaborative study with "Sir Anthony Fisher." "Old Haverstock Wallace [Havelock Ellisl, the authority on depravity, who had himself suffered formerly from English covert censorship, went out of his way to review the book with much condescension in a sheet devoted to the advertisement of rubber goods, and deplored the 'predilection for the paradoxical which handicapped the authors'

{p. 87} literary temperament.'" Malinowski was caricatured in the following words: "Professor Bronislawski, who had obtained much honor in England by proving the accuracy of the story of Noah's Ark, and had been appointed in consequence to the chair of Natural History in the University of Aldwych [The London School of Economics at which Malinowski was first lecturer, then reader, and eventually Professor], was particularly combatant. The book, he said, was dangerous to public welfare, sapping as it did the foundations of national patriotism in racial heredity and the family. He approached the Home Secretary and Archbishop of York with a view to having the work suppressed on grounds of immorality. The New Statement [The New Statesnan and Nation] stated that 'Professor Bronislawski has once and for all disposed of Sir Anthony Fisher's and Mr. Bern's puerilities.' Sir Anthony was, shortly after, dismissed from his lectureship at Cambridge and his post at the Marine Biological Station."

2. A. R. Wallace, in Introductory Note to E. Westermarck, The History of Human Mrriage, vol. 1, pp. ix sq.

3. Westermarck devoted half a book to a rebuttal of Briffault's charges. See Edward Westermarck in "'The Mothers,' A Rejoinder to Dr. Briffault," Three Essays on Sex and Marriage, Macmillan, London and New York, 1934, pp. 163-335. See also Edward Westermarck, The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization, Macmillan, London and New York, 1936.

4. For the full development of Briffault's views the interested reader is urged to read Briffault's work The Mothers, 3 vols., Allen & Unwin, London; Macmillan, New York, 1927, or the statement of his essential thesis in the one-volume work The Mothers, Macmillan, New York, 1931. For a brief account of Briffault's work see Huntington Cairns, "Robert Briffault and the Rehabilitation of the Matriarchal Theory," in Harry Elmer Barnes (editor), An Introdction to the History of Sociology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1948, pp. 668-676.

5. What Briffault thought of women may be read in The Mothers, vol. 3, pp. 507-508: "It has been said that a man learns nothing after forty; it may be said in the sarne broad sense that a woman learns nothing after twenty-five."

{p. 88} 6. A form of multiple martiage exists among the Kaingang of Brazil and the Toda of Southern India, but this is not to be confused with the 'group marriage' of Briffault's theory.

7. For a further discussion of this subject see M. J. Herskovits, Economic Anthropology, Knopf, New York, 1952.

8. For this evidence see M. F. Ashley Montagu, The Direction of Human Development, Harper and Bros., New York, 1955.

9. See G. P. Murdock, Social Structure, Macmillan, New York, 1949.

10. Ibid., pp. 24, 25. Indeed, the theory of group-marriage is today as outmoded as the belief in the mythical Amazons, who are, nevertheless, often quoted in un-anthropological circles as the example of a matriarchal state and were so referred to by Briffault (The Mothers, vol. 1, p. 457). Since the Amazons never existed, but are a mythical group first mentioned by Herodotus and soon doubted by Strabo, their social organization need not further detain us, except perhaps as an enduring example of the will to believe.

11. Jules Henry, Jungle People, Augustin, New York, 1941.

12. For good accounts of the kibbutzim, see Melford Spiro, Kibbutz, Harvard Universiq Press, Cambridge, 1956, and Esther Tauber, Molding Socrety to Man, Bloch, New York, 1955, pp.70-81.

13. W. E. Goode, After Marriage, Free Press, Glencoe, Illinois, 1956.


1. This is incorrect. Only about one-seventh of the investigated non-literate peoples are characterized by matrilocal residence. For example, among 250 societies investigated, 146 were found to be patrilocal, 38 matrilocal, 22 matri-patrilocal, 19 bilocal, 17 neolocaL and 8 avunculolocal. See George P. Murdock, Social Structure, Macmillan, New York, 1949, p. 17.

2. I do not know of an anthropologist who today would subscribe to such a view. As Murdock writes, "On the contrary, since the ancestors of nearly all gtoups which have survived

{p. 89} until today must have undergone many changes in social organization during the long course of human history, the fact that the last transition in a particular series has been from matrilineal to patrilineal or double descent by no means implies that the matrilineate came first in the entire series." Op. cit., p. 219.

3. This statement, and those which follow, are incorrect. Matrilocal residence is more often than not associated with matrilineal inheritance. But there are many matrilocal societies in which inheritance is patrilineal, and some in which it is mixed. In many such societies, moreover, there are often distinct rules of inheritance for different types of property as well as for different kinds of succession to positions of status and authority.


1. See Bronislaw Malinowski, The Sexual Life of Savages in North Western Melanesia, Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1929

2. For an exposition of this fact see Bronislaw Malinowski, The Family Among the Astralian Aborigines, University of London Press, London, 1913. See also M. F Ashley Montagu, Coming into Being among the Australian Aborigines, Routledge, London, 1937, Dutton, New York, 1938.

3. This is, of course, patently untrue. Kinship and affection are quite as deeply rooted in paternal clan and family.


1. This is not so. It was, in fact, difficult for the young Australian aboriginal male to satisfy his "instincts" because the older men usually married the available younger women.

2. Not at all. Marriage is only occasionally a matter that rests chiefy upon economic considerations.

3. This is far from true. Romantic love is a state known to affect the relations between the sexes in many non-literate societies. See, for exarnple, Malinowski's The Sexual Life of Savages.

4. Something of an exaggeration. In non-literate societies men produce all sorts of valuable objects and accumulations of wealth.

{p. 90} 5. It has already been stated that this is not true fot all societies.

6. This is not so. In many non-literate societies a child must have a father, otherwise it is "illegitimate," and often, under such circumstances, both mother and child or the child alone will be killed. See M. F. Ashley Montagu, Coming into Being among the Australian Aborignes.

7. Not at all. In a good many societies a child cannot be fitted into the structure of socieq if the clan and moiety membership of the father is not known. Hence, an "illegitimate" child poses an insoluble problem to such societies, so that a "father" must be found for the child or it must be disposed of.

8. Briffault here means "polygyny" or culturally permitted marriage of one man with several women.


(3) Malinowski - Matrilineal Trobrian society considers Fathers essential

The Father in Primitive Psychology

by Bronislaw Malinowski

(W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1927; Norton Library paperback 1966).

Footnotes omitted.

{p. i} BRONISLAW MALINOWSKI (1884-1942), who advanced the study of cultural anthropology beyond its merely descriptive stage and initiated the so-called functional school of anthropology - which looks on human culture and human institutions as a pragmatic whole functioning within the framework of the whole - was born in what was then Austrian Poland. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cracow in 1908 and subsequently studied at the University of Leipig. He moved to England early in his career and did research in connection with the British Museum and the London School of Economics. In 1914 he joined the Robert Mond Expedition to New Guinea and North Melanesia. Since he had never been naturalized (although later he was to become a British subject), the British government had to intern him during the war as an enemy alien. It conveniently confined him to the Trobriand Islands of the South Pacific, where he was able to carry out much of his basic work. After the war he returned to London and became, first, reader in social anthropology and, then, Professor of Anthropology at the University of London. He visited the United States on several occasions and in 1939, when in this country on a sabbatical leave, he accepted an invitation from Yale University to stay as a visiting professor.

Professor Malinowski's publications include The Family Among Ihe Australian Aborigines ( 1913), Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), Myth in Primitive Society; Crime and Culture in Savage Society; The Father in Primitive Psychology; and Sex and Repression in Savage Society (all in 1927); The Sexual Life of Salages in Northwestern Melanesia (1929); Coral Gardens and Their Magic (1935); and The Foundations of Faith and their Morals (1936).











The dependence of social organization in a given society upon the ideas, beliefs, and sentiments current there is a fact of which we should never lose sight. This refers especially to savage races, where we find quite unexpected and far-fetched views about natural processes, and correspondingly extreme and one-sidedly developed forms of social organization in kinship, communal authority, and tribal constitution. In particular the views held about the function of sex and procreation, about the relative share of father and mother in the production of the child, play a considerable part in the formation of kinship ideas. The respective contributions of the male and of the female parent to the body of the ospring, as estimated in the traditional lore of a given society, form the nucleus of the system of reckoning kinship.

{p. 11} CHAPTER I


THE detailed study of a concrete example will show the social and psychological mechanism better than any speculations. In the Trobriand Islands1 we find a matrilineal society, where descent,

1 The Trobriand Islands are a coral archipelago 1ying to the north-east of New Guinea. The natives belong to the Papupo-Melanesian race, and in their physical appearance, mental equipment, and social organization, they show a combination of the Oceanic characteristics mixed with some features of the more backward Papuan culture from the mainland of New Guinea.

For a full general account of the Northern Massim, of whom the Trobrianders form a section, see the classical treatise of Professor C. G. Seligman, Melanesians of British New Guinea (Cambridge, 191O). The book also shows the relation of the Trobrianders to the other races and cultures on and around New Guinea. A short account will also be found in Argonauts of the Western Pacific, by the present author.

{p. 12} kinship, and all social relations are reckoned by the mother only, and where women have a considerable share in tribal life, in which they take the leading part in certain economic, ceremonial, and magical activities. This influences very deeply the erotic life as well as the institution of marriage.

The idea that it is solely and exclusively the mother who builds up the child's body, while the man does not in any way contribute to its production, is the most important factor of the social organization of the Trobrianders. The views about the process of procreation entertained by these natives, coupled with certain mythological and animistic beliefs - a subject with the details of which we shall subsequently become acquainted - affirm, without doubt or limitation for the native mind, that the child is of the same substance as its mother, and that between the father and the child there is no bond of union whatever.

The mother's contribution to the new

{p. 13} being to be born, a fact so open to observation, is clearly expressed by the natives: "The mother feeds the infant in her body. Then, when it comes out, she feeds it with her milk." "The mother makes the child out of her flesh." "Brothers and sisters are of the same flesh, because they come of the same mother." These and similar expressions describe the attitude of the natives towards this, their fundamental principle of kinship. This attitude is also to be found ebodied in a more telling manner in their rules of descent, inheritance, succession in rank, chieftainship, hereditary offices, and magic - in fact, in every rule of transmission according to kinship. In all these cases, the social position is handed on in the mother-line from a man to his sister's children. This exclusively matrilineal conception of kinship is of paramount importance in the restrictions and regulations of marriage and in the taboos of sexual intercourse. The native ideas of kinship also come to light with a dramatic sud-

{p. 14} denness and extreme intensity at the death of an individual. For the social rules underlying burial, lamentation, mourning, and certain very elaborate ceremonies of food distribution are based on the principle that people united by the bond of maternal kinship form a closely knit unit bound by identity of feelings, interests, and flesh; while all the others, and even those united by marriage and the father-to-children relation, stand sharply outside and have no natural share in the bereavement or grief at death.

As these natives have a well-established institution of marriage, but are quite ignorant of the man's share in the begetting of children, the "father" has for the Trobriander a purely social definition: he is the man married to the mother, who lives in the same house with her and forms part of the household. A father, in all discussions about relationship, was pointedly described to me by the natives as Tomakava, a "stranger," or even more correctly, an "outsider." This expression

{p. 15} would also be frequently used in conversation when the natives argued about some point of inheritance, or tried to justify some line of behavior, or when in a quarrel the position of the father was to be belittled. I have used the word "father" so far to indicate the relationship as found in the society of the Trobriand Islanders, but it must have been clear to the reader that this word must be taken, not with the various legal, moral, and biological implications that it as for us, but in a sense entirely specific to the society with which we are dealing. It would have been best, in order to avoid introducing a real misconception, not to have used our word "father," but the native one tatna, and to have spoken of the "tama relationship" instead of "fatherhood." But this would have proved too unwieldy to repay the gain in exactness, and so the reader, when he meets the word "father" in these pages, should never forget that the word must take its definition, not from the nglish dictionary, but from

{p. 16} the facts of native life described in these pages. And I may add that this applies to all terms which carry special sociological implications, that is, all terms of relationship, such words as "marriage," "divorce," "betrothal," "love," "courtship," etc.

What does the word tama (father) express to the native? In the first place, it would be described by an intelligent informant as meaning for him the "husband of my mother." He would further proceed to say that his tama is the man in whose loving and protecting company he has grown up. For, since marriage is patrilocal in the Trobriands, that is to say, since the woman moves to her husband's village community and lives in his house, the father is a close companion of his children. He takes also an active part in the tender cares lavished on the infants, invariably feels and shows a deep affection £or them, and later on shares in giving them instruction. The word tama, father, condenses, therefore, in its emo

{p. 17} tional meaning, a host of experiences of early childhood; expresses the typical sentiment between a young being and a mature man who loves him or her; while socially it describes the male person who stands in an intimate relation to the mother and who is master of the household.

So far, tama does not differ essentially from "father" in our sense. But as soon as the child begins to grow up and take an interest in things outside his immediate eeds and the household affairs, certain complications arise and change his outlook. The child comes to know that he is not of the same clan as his tama, that his own totemic appellation is different and is identical with that of his mother. With this he learns that all sorts of duties, restrictions, and matters for personal pride unite him with his mother and separate him from his father. Instead, another man appears on the horizon whom the child calls kadagu (my mother's brother). This man may live in the same locality,

{p. 18} but just as often he resides in another village. The child also learns that the place where his kada (mother's brother) resides is also his, the child's, "own village"; that there he has his property and his other rights of citizenship; that there are his future prospects, there reside his natural allies and associates. He may even be taunted in the village of his birth with being an "outsider" (tomakava); while in the village he has to call "his own," where his mother's brother lives, his father is a stranger and he the natural citizen. He also sees as he grows up that the mother's brother assumes a gradually increasing authority over him, requiring his services, helping him in some matters, granting or withholding his permission to certain actions, while the father's authority and counsel become less and less important.

Thus the life of a Trobriander runs under a twofold influence - a duality which must not be imagined only as a mere surface play of custom. It enters deeply

{p. 19} into the existence of individual men, it produces strange complications of usage, it creates frequent tensions and difficulties, and not seldom it gives rise to violent breaks in the continuity of tribal life. For this dual influence of the paternal and matrilineal principle which enters so deeply into the framework of institutions and into the social ideas and sentiments of the natives is, in fact, not quite well adusted to its working.




LET US follow up the details of the natives' ideas about the nature of sexual functions. The natives have an actual practical acquaintance with the main features of human anatomy, and an extensive vocabulary for the various parts of the human body and for the internal organs. They often cut up pigs and other animals, while the custom of post-mortem dissection of corpses, and visits among their overseas cannibal neighbours supply them with exact knowledge of the homologies of the human and animal organism. Their physiological theories, on the other hand, are remarkably defective; there are many notable gaps in their knowledge about the

{p. 21} functions of the most important organs, side by side with some fantastic and quaint ideas.

The Trobrianders' knowledge of sexual anatomy is, on the whole, very limited, in comparison with what they know about other parts of the human body. Considering the great interest which they take in these matters, the distinctions which they make are superficial and rough, and their terminology limited.

Their physiological views are extremely crude. The organs of sex serve for excretion and for pleasure. Their ideas about the excretive urinary processes are very inadequate. The kidneys are not associated with the production of urine. A narrow duct (wotuna) leads from the stomach directly to the bladder, from which it passes through the male and female genitals. Through this canal the water which we drink passes slowly till it is expelled, and on its way it becomes discoloured and sullied in the stomach by contact with excrement. For food begins

{p. 22} to be changed into excrement in the stomach.

Their ideas about the sexual functions of the genitals are more complex and systematic, and present a sort of psycho-physiological theory. The eyes are the seat of desire and lust. They are the basis or cause (u'ula) of sexual passion. From the eyes, the stimulus is carried on to the brain by means of the wotuna (literally, tendril or creeper; in the anatomical context, vein, nerve, duct, or sinew). Thence, again, the desire is spread all over the body, travelling to the belly, the arms and legs, and then again concentrating in the kidneys. The kidneys are compared to the main or middle part or trunk (tapana) of the system. From this, other wotuna (ducts) lead to the male organ. This is the tip or point (matala, literally, eye). Thus, when the eyes see an object of desire they "wake up," after which they communicate the impulse to the kidneys which, again, transmit

{p. 23} it further. Thus the eyes are the primary motive of all sexual excitement.

The processes of sexual excitement in the female organism are quite analogical. Thus, the eyes, the kidneys, and the sexual organs are united by the same system of wotuna (communicating ducts). The eyes give the alarm, which again passes through the body, takes its seat in the kidneys, and produces an excitation in due course. They call both the male and female discharge by the same name (momona or momola), and they ascribe to both of them the same origin in the kidneys and the same function, that of lubricating the membrane and of increasing pleasure.

This account represents the more developed knowledge of the matter. I first obtained it from Namwana Guya'u and Piribomatu, the former a dabbling sorcerer, the latter a real expert, both intelligent men and both, in virtue of their profession, interested in human anatomy and physiology. I obtained similar state-

{p. 24} ments in other parts of the island, and in the main outline, such as the sexual functions of the kidneys or of the internal organs, the great importance of the eyes and the olfactory sense, and the strict parallel between the male and female sexuality, all my informants were in agreement.

Theirs is a fairly consistent, and not altogether nonsensical, view of the psycho-physiology of sexual libido. The drawing of the parallel between the two sexes is consistent. The indication of the three cardinal points of the sexual system is very characteristic of the native canons of classification. They distinguish in many subjects the three elements: the u'ula, the tapwana, and the matala. The metaphor is taken from the vision of a tree or a pillar or a spear: the u'ulo, in its literal sense the foot of the tree, the basis, the foundation, receives further the meaning of cause, origin, source of strength; the tapwana, the middle part of the trunk, then the trunk itself, the main body of any any elongated object, the length of a rod.

{p. 25} The matala, eye, or point (as in a spear), sometimes replaced by the word dogina or dabwana, the tip of a tree or the top of any high object, stands for the highest part, or, in more abstract metaphor, the final word, the highest expression.

In this case, the comparison is not altogether devoid of meaning, and is only nonsensical in ascribing to the kidneys a special function. They are regarded as a highly important, vital part of the human organism, partly because they are the source of the seminal fluid, which, however, is not endowed in the minds of the natives with any generative value. Another view ascribes the production of the male and female discharge, not to the kidneys, but to the bowels. The natives also consider that something in the bowels is the actual agent of discharge.

A very remarkable point is their entire ignorance about any physiological role of the testis. They are not aware that anything is produced in this organ, and anyleading questions as to whether the male

{p. 26} fluid (momona) has not its source there, are categorically denied.

While sexual desire (magila kayta) resides in the eyes, love or affection (yobwayli) has its seat in the intestines and in the skin of the belly and the arms, and only to a certain extent in the eyes. Hence, when we are fond of someone, such as our children, or our friends, or our parents, we like to look at them, and when this love is strong we want to hug them.

Menstruation the Trobrianders regard as a phenomenon connected with pregnancy in a vague manner, but without any special cause or function. They use simply the word blood, buyavi, but with a characteristic grammatical peculiarity. While ordinary bodily blood is mentioned always with the pronoun of nearest possession, which pertains to all the parts of a human body, menstruous blood is spoken of with the same possessive pronouns as are used for ornamentation and articles of apparel (second nearest possession). Thus, buyavigu, my blood ("part of me - blood")

{p. 27} means bodily blood obtained through a cut or haemorrhage; agubuyavi, my blood ("belonging to me - blood") means menstruous blood. The women have no special way of dressing during menstruation, and there is no particular modesty on the subject between the sexes.



THE relation between menstruous blood and the formation of the foetus has been observed and recognized by the natives, but their ideas about it are extremely vague and uncertain. Such as they are, they are mixed up with beliefs about the incarnation of spiritual beings, and it will be best to give a conjoint account of the physiological process together with that of the spiritual agencis Thus we shall preserve the natural sequence and perspective of the native doctrine. Since the new life, in the tradition of the Trobrianders, begins with death, we shall now have to move to the bedside of a dying man, and follow the progress of his spirit till we

{p. 29} trace him back to earthly existence again.

The spirit after death moves to Tuma, the Island of the Dead, where he leads a pleasant existence analogous to the ter restrial life - only much happier. Into the nature of this bliss we shall have to inquire somewhat more in detail later on, for sex plays an important part in it. Here we deal with one feature only: perpetual youth, preserved by the powers of rejuvenation. Whenever the spirit (baloma) sees that bodily hair is covering his

{p. 30} skin, that his skin is getting loose and wrinkled, and that his hair is turning grey, he simply sloughs his covering and appears with a new and young surface - black locks, smooth skin, and an entire absence of bodily hair. This desirable power of regaining youth was once enjoyed by the whole of humanity at a time when its ancestors lived underground and had not yet emerged on the surface. Even now we see those burrowing or creeping animals, such as crabs, snakes, and lizards, who slough off the skin and become young; while those who live in the air do not possess this power. Human beings retained this faculty for some time after their emergence to the surface of the earth, and lost it only through inadvertence and ill-will, as told in a circumstantial myth. In Tuma, the nether world, this happy privilege is still fully enjoyed by the spirits.

When a spirit becomes tired of constant rejuvenation, after he has led a long existence "underneath," as the natives call

{p. 31} it, he may want to come back to life again. And then he leaps far back in age, and becomes a small, unborn infant. Some of my informants pointed out that in Tuma, as here, there are plenty of sorcerers; that evil sorcery is frequently practised, and can reach a spirit and make him weak, sick, and tired of life; and that then, and then only, will he go back to the beginnings of existence and change into a spirit child. To kill a spirit by black magic or accident is quite impossible; his end will always mean merely a new beginning.

Those rejuvenated spirits, those little pre-incarnated babies or spirit children, are the only source from which humanity draws its new supplies of life. An unborn infant somehow or other finds its way back to the Trobriands, and there into the womb of some wornan, but always a woman who belongs to the same clan and sub-clan as the spirit child itself. Exactly how it travels from Tuma to Boyowa, how it enters the body of its mother, and

{p. 32} how there the physiological processes of gestation combine with the agency of the spirit - about this there are several versions of belief, not altogether consistent. The main facts, however, stand fast, and are known by everybody and firmly believed: that all the spirits have ultimately to end their life in Tuma and turn into unborn infants; that every child born in this world has come into existence (ibubuli) in Tuma through the metamorphosis of a spirit; that the main reason and the real cause of every birth lies in nothing else but in the spiritual action.

I shall now give an account of the details and varieties of Trobriand belief which I have collected very carefully and assiduously owing to the importance of the theme. The rejuvenation process is associated with sea-water in a general manner. In the myth, stating how humanity lost the privilege of regaining youth at will, the scene of the last rejuvenation is laid on the seashore in one of the lagoon inlets. In the first account of rebirth

{p. 33} which I obtained in Omarakana, it was volunteered that the rejuvenating spirit "goes to the beach and bathes in the salt water." Tomwaya Lakwabulo, the Seer, who in his trances often goes to Tuma and has frequent intercourse with the spirits, told me: "The baloma go to a spring called sopiwina (literally, washing water); it lies on the beach. There they wash their skin with brackish water. They become to'ulatile (young men)." The final rejuvenation, or turning into the infant state, likewise leads to the sea. The spirits have to bathe in salt water before they become babies again, and after that they go into the sea and remain afloat. They are always spoken of as floating on seaweed, sea-scum, and the other light drift-logs or on the leaves, boughs, dead substances which litter the surface of the sea. Tomwaya Lakwabulo says that they float all the time around the shores of Tuma, the spirit island, emitting long, wailing sounds - wa, wa, wa. "At night I hear their wailing. I ask, 'What is it?'

{p. 34} 'O, children, the tide brings them, they come.'" The spirits in Tuma can see those pre-incarnated infants, and so can Tomwaya Lakwabulo when he descends into the spirit world. But to ordinary people they are invisible, although fishermen from the northern villages of Kaybola and Lu'ebila, when they go far out into the sea, fishing for shark, will sometimes hear the wailing sound - wa, wa, wa - in the sighing of the wind and the waves.

Tomwaya Lakwabulo and a number of other informants maintain that such spirit children never float far away from Tuma. They are transported to the Trobriands by the help of another spirit. Tomwaya Lakwabulo gives the following account. "A child floats on a drift log. A spirit sees it is good-looking. She takes it. She is the spirit of the mother or of the father of the pregnant woman (nasusuma). Then she puts it on the head, in the hair, of the pregnant woman, who suffers headache, vomits, and has an ache in the belly.

{p. 35} Then the child comes down into the belly, then she is really pregnant. She says: 'Already it, the child, has found me; already they (the spirits) have brought me the child."' In this account we find two leading ideas: the active intervention of another spirit - the one who somehow conveys the child back to the Trobriands and gives it to the mother - and the motive of the insertion through the head, with which (not in this account but usually) is associated the idea of an effusion of blood, first to the head and then into the abdomen.

How exactly the transportation is accomplished is not mentioned in this account. There are natives who imagine that the older spirit carries the small baby along in some sort of receptacle - a plaited coconut basket or a wooden dish - or else simply in her arms. Others give the candid answer that they do not know. The essence of this version, however, lies in the fact that there is the active control of another spirit behind the baby. When

{p. 36} the natives say that the children are "given by baloma," that "a baloma is the real cause of child-birth," they refer always to this controlling spirit, as we might call it, and not to the spirit baby itself. A feature in this controlling spirit's behaviour is that it usually appears in a dream to the woman about to be pregnant. As Motago'i, one of my best informants, volunteered: "She dreams her mother comes to her, she sees the face of her mother in a dream, she wakes up and says, 'O, there is a child for me.'"

Frequently a woman mentions to her husband who it was that inserted the baby into her. And the tradition of this spiritual god-father or god-mother is preserved. Thus, the present chief of Omarakana, the chief village of this district, knows that it was Bugwabwaga, one of the previous chiefs of Omarakana, who gave him to his mother. My best friend, Tokulubakiki, was engendered by a gift to his mother from her kadala, mother's brother. Tokulubakiki's wife, again, re-

{p. 37} ceived her eldest daughter from her mother's spirit. Usually it is some maternal relative of the mother who bestows the gift. Sometimes it may be the father of the pregnant woman, as mentioned in Tomwaya Lakwabulo's statement.

The physiological theory associated with this belief in spirit insertion comes more or less to this. The spirit child is laid by the spirit on the woman's head. Blood from her body rushes there. On this tide of blood the baby descends gradually till it settles in the womb. The blood helps to build up the body of the little child - it nourishes it. That is the reason why, when a woman becomes pregnant, her menstruous blood stops flowing. A woman will see that her menstruation has stopped. She will wait one, two, three months, and then she will know for certain that she is pregnant. Another version, but decidedly less authoritative, maintains that the baby is inserted per vaginam.

Another version of the story of rein-

{p. 38} carnation ascribes more initiative to the pre-incarnated infant. It is supposed to be able to float of its own will towards the Trobriands. There it remains, probably in company with others, floating about the coasts of the island, waiting till it can enter the body of a woman while she bathes. This view is substantiated by certain observances kept by girls in coastal villages. The spirit children are imagined to be here, as around Tuma, attached to drift logs, scum, leaves, and branches, or else to the small stones on the bottom of the sea. Whenever, through wind and tide, much debris accumulates near the shore, the girls will not enter the water for fear they might conceive. Again, in the villages on the northern coast, there is a custom of scooping water from the sea into a wooden baler, which is then left filled overnight in the hut of a woman who wishes to conceive. This is done on the chance that a spirit child might be thus caught in the baler and at night transfer itself into the

{p. 39} woman. But even in this case, the woman is said to be visited in her dream by the spirit of some deceased maternal relative, who thus plays the part of the controlling spirit. It is important to note that the scooping of the water must always be done by her brother or by her mother's brother, that is, by a maternal kinsman. A concrete case in corroboration of these general statements was told to me. A man from the village of Kapwani on the northern shore was asked by his sister's daughter to procure her a child. He went several times to the beach. One evening he heard a sound like the wailing of children. He drew water from the sea into the baler and left it in his Kadala's hut over night. She conceived a child, a girl, who unfortunately turned out to be an albino. But this, of course, had nothing to do with the mode of her conception.

In this version the main difference is that the pre-incarnated spirit child is endowed with more spontaneity. It can oat across the sea; it enters the bathing

{p. 40} woman per vaginam, or else, being placed in the hut, it enters her abdomen directly through the skin. This version I found prevalent in the northern part of the island, and especially in its coastal villages.

The nature of the spirit child, or pre-incarnated baby, is not very clearly defined in traditional folklore. Asked directly, the majority of informants anwered that they did not know what it was and what it looked like. One or two, and I must add the most intelligent ones, able to give the most logical answers, said that it was simply like the foetus in the womb, which, they added, "looks like a mouse." Tomwaya Lakwabulo volunteered the statement that pre-incarnated infants look like very minute and fully-developed children, and that they sometimes are very beautiful. He had to say something, of course, since he, on his own testimony, has seen them frequently in spirit-land. Even the nomenclature is not quite definite. Usually the term waywaya, small child or foetus, is used, or sometimes a word pwa-

{p. 41} pwawa, almost synonymous with the previous one, but referring perhaps rather to the earlier stages, that is having more the meaning of foetus than of baby. But quite as often it is spoken of as child, gwadi (plural, gugwadi).

I was told, though this item I was not able to control fully, that there is some magic performed over a species of betel leaf (kwega) and called Kaykatuvilena Kwega, with the purpose of producing pregnancy. A woman in Yourawotu, a small village near Omarakana, knows this magic. Unfortunately I failed to tap this precious source of knowledge.

Thus here, as everywhere, when we dissect a belief under the magnifying glass of detailed research, made over an area of a certain extension, we find a diversity of views only partially merging into a con-

{p. 42} sistent story. The divergences in this case, however, are not due wholly to geographical dierences; nor can they be assigned to special social layers, for some of the inconsistencies I have found in the account of the same man. Tomwaya Lakwabulo, for instance, insisted that the children cannot travel alone, but must be carried by the controlling spirit and placed in the woman; yet he informed me that they can be heard wailing on the north shore near Kaybola. Or again, the man in Kiriwina, who told me about the spirit child's entering from the baler, spoke about an older spirit "giving" that child. In this case, as in many others, the story shows inconsistencies and seams, because it probably is the result of several mythological cycles of ideas, meeting, so to speak, and intersecting on the locus of this belief. One of these cycles contains the idea of rejuvenation, another the motive of fresh life floating on the sea towards the island, another is the conception that a new member of the family comes as a

{p. 43} gift from some old spirit. But I cannot follow up this trend of ideas, which I merely wish to indicate - it would lead us too far into the general theory of belief.

It is important, however, that, in all the principal points the various versions and descriptions agree, overlap, and fortify one another. We have thus a composite picture, which, although blurred in some of its details, presents, from a certain distance, firm contours. The main points remain identical: all spirits rejuvenate; all children are incarnated spirits; the identity of sub-clan is preserved throughout the cycle; the real cause of child-birth is the spirit initiative from Tuma.

In all this it must be remembered, however, that the whole belief in reincarnation is not one which exercises a great influence over custom and social organization in the Trobriands, but that it is one of those doctrines which lead a quiet and passive existence in folklore, and encroach actively on social behaviour only to a small

[p. 44} extent. Thus, for instance, although the Trobrianders firmly believe that each spirit becomes an unborn infant, and that this again becomes reincarnated into a human being, yet they do not believe that the identity of personality is preserved throughout the process. That is, no one knows whose incarnation the infant is - who he was in his previous existence.

There is no remembrance of the past life in Tuma or on the earth. If any questions are put about this to the natives, it is obvious that the whole problem appears to them unnecessary. The only rule which presides over this series of metamorphoses is the continuity of c]an and sub-clan preserved throughout. There are no moral ideas of recompense or punishment embodied in their reincarnation theory, no customs or ceremonies associated with it or bearing witness to it.

{p. 45} CHAPTER IV


THUS far, we have followed the two strands in the twisted thread of belief about pregnancy - first of all, the ingress from the other world of the incarnated spirit; secondly, the physiological processes in the maternal body, the welling up of the blood from the abdomen to the head and down again from the head to the womb. In this we have a theory of the origin of human life and of childbirth, perfectly co-ordinated and selfsufficient, if not consistent, since dogmatic belief never can be that. It also yields a good theoretical basis for matriliny, for we see, in this theory, that the whole process of formation of the new life happens between the spirit world and the

{p. 46} woman's organism, and that there is no room for any sort of physical paternity.

But there comes a slight complication in these views. Another condition must be added, which is considered by the natives indispensable for conception and childbirth. And with this new condition, since it is related to sexual intercourse, the whole simplicity of the scheme is upset, the picture blurred, and we find ourselves faced by the difficult and delicate question: Are the natives really entirely ignorant of physiological fatherhood? Is it not a fact of which they are more or less aware, though it may be overlaid and distorted by mythological and animistic beliefs ? Have we not here to do with a degree of knowledge empirically possessed by a backward community, but which is never formulated, for it is so obvious as not to need any expressed statement; while on the other hand, the legendary views, all the story about reincarnation, is formulated and expressed carefully, since it is the product of tradition ? The facts which

{p. 47} I am about to adduce contain an unambiguous and decisive answer to all these questions. I shall not anticipate the con. clusion, which indeed, as we shall see, will be drawn by the natives themselves. A virgin cannot conceive.

Tradition, diffuse folklore, certain aspects of custom and customary behaviour, teach and affirm to the native this simple physiological truth. The natives have no doubt about it, and they can formulate it tersely and clearly. Let us listen to some of their statements.

This statement was volunteered by Niyova, a good informant of Oburaku. "A virgin does not conceive, because there is no way for the children to go for that woman to conceive. When the orifice is wide opened, the spirits are aware, they give the child." This is a consistent view, which, however, was preceded during the same sitting with the same informant by a detailed description of how the spirit lays the child on the woman's head. The words of Niyova, here quoted verbatim,

{p. 48} imply, of course, an insertion per vaginam. Ibena, a clever old man of Kasana'i, gave me a similar explanation - in fact, it was he who first made it clear to me that virginity mechanically impedes spirit impregnation. His method of explanation was graphic. Turning a closed fist, he asked the question, "Can anything enter?" Then, opening it, "Now, of course, it is easy." "Thus it is that a bulabola (large orifice) conceives easily, and a nakapatu (small entrance, a virgin) cannot do so."

I have quoted these two statements in extenso, as they are very telling and characteristic, but they are not isolated. I received a great number of similar declarations, all expressing the view that the way must be open for the child, but that this need not necessarily be brought about by sexual intercourse. The point is quite clear. But, once opened up, in the normal course of events this is done by sexual intercourse - there is no need for male and female to come together in order to produce a child.

{p. 49} Considering that there are no virgins in the villages - for every female child begins her sexual life very early - we may wonder how the natives come to the establishment of this conditio sine qua non. Again, since they have advanced so far, it might appear difficult to see why they have not advanced just a little further and grasped the fertilizing virtue of seminal fluid. Nevertheless, that they have not made this advance there are many definite and telling facts to prove: quite as much as they recognize the necessity of mechanical opening up, they are ignorant of the real generative power of the sexual act. Some of these proofs are to be found in the mythological tales of mankind's beginnings on earth, and in the fantastic legends of distant lands. Indeed, it was in discussing such mythological cases, to the account of which I shall now proceed, that I was made to see this subtle, yet all-important distinction between mechanical and physiological dilation, and thus to

{p. 50} place the native belief regarding fertilization in its proper perspective.

Mankind originated, according to native tradition, by the emergence from underground of men and women, a couple, always a brother and a sister, coming out in a given spot. According to some traditions, we see only women appearing first. Some of my commentators insisted upon this: "You see, we are so many on the earth because many women came first. Had there been many men, we would be few." Now, whether accompanied by her brother or not, the original woman is always imagined to bear children without a husband and without any other male partner. But this does not mean without the vagina being opened up. In some of the traditions this detail is mentioned explicitly. Thus, in the village of Vakuta, a mythical story about a woman ancestress of a sub-clan describes how she exposed her body to falling rain and thus mechanically lost her virginity. In the most im-

{p. 51} portant myth of the Trobriands a woman, called Mitigis' or Bolutukwa, mother of the mythical hero of Tudava, lives quite alone in a grotto on the seashore. One day she falls asleep in her rocky dwelling, reclining under a dripping stalactyte. The drops of water pierce her vagina, and thus deprive her of virginity. In other myths of origin the means of piercing are not mentioned, but it is often stated directly that the woman ancestress was man-less and could have, therefore, no sexual intercourse. When asked directly how it was that they bore children without having a man, the natives more or less coarsely or jestingly mentioned some means of perforation which they could easily have used, and obviousl that was all that was necessary.

Moving into another mythological dimension - into present-day legendary distances far to the north - we find the marvellous land of Kaytalugi, and in it a community without men, consisting ex-

{p. 52} clusively of sexually rabid women. They are so brutally profligate that their excesses kill every man thrown by chance on their shores, and even their own male children cannot attain ripeness before they are sexually done to death. In spite of that, these women are very prolific, producing plenty of children, male and female. If you ask a native how this can be, how these females become pregnant if there are no ripe men, he simply cannot understand your absurd question. These women, he will tell you, destroy their virginity by all sorts of proceedings if they cannot get hold of a man to torture to death. And they have got their own baloma, of course, to give them children. These mythological cases I have adduced first, for in them our point stands out very clearly: the need of perforation, and the absence of any idea concerning the fertilizing value of the semen. But there are some convincing cases at the 1 Cf. Malinowski, Aronauts of the Wcstcrn Patfi, pp. 23, 22.

{p. 53} present time showing clearly how the natives believe that a girl can be with child without previous sexual intercourse, and vice versa. Thus, there are some women so ugly and repulsive that no one believes that they ever had intercourse (except, of course, the few who know better, but who are very careful to keep silent from shame). There is Tilapo'i, a woman now old, famous for her hideousness in youth. She is now blind, always was almost an idiot, and had a repulsive face and deformed body. Her unattractiveness was so notorious that she became the subject of a special swear word: "Kwoy Tilapo'i" ("have connection with Tilapo'i") is a form of abuse, used as mild chaff. She is altogether an infinite source, and a pivoting point, of all sorts of matrimonial and obscene jokes, all based on the assumedly impossible imputation that someone is Tilapo'i's lover or prospective husband. I was assured, over and over again, that no one ever could have had connection in with her in reality; yet this woman has had

{p. 54} a child, as the natives would triumphantly point out in an argument in which I tried to persuade them that only intercourse can produce children.

There is the case of Kurayana, a woman of Sinaketa, whom I never saw, for she is dead now, but who, I was told, was "so ugly" that any man would be "ashamed" to have intercourse with her. Notably enough, this saying implies that social shame would be a stronger prohibitive even than sexual repulsion, an assumption showing that my informant was not a bad practical psychologist. Kurayana, as thoroughly chaste in native opinion as one can be, by necessity, if not by virtue, had no less than six children, five of whom died and one of whom still survives.

All albinos, male and female, are considered unfit for sexual intercourse. There is not the slightest doubt that ali the natives feel a strong disgust and horror at these unfortunate beings, a horror perfectly comprehensible after one has seen specimens of such unpigmented na-

{p. 55} tives. Yet there are on record several albino women, all unmarried, each of whom brought forth a numerous progeny. "Why did they become pregnant? Is it because they copulate at night time? Or because a baloma has given them children?" Such was the clinching argument of one of my informants, for the first alternative appeared obviously absurd. Indeed, all this line of argument was volunteercd to me in one of my early discussions of the subject, although I obtained fuller data by subsequent research. For as a means of probing into the firrnness of their belief, I sometimes made myself definitely and aggressively an advocate of the truer physiological doctrine of procreation. In such arguments the natives would quote me not only the positive instances just mentioned about women who have children without having enjoyed any intercourse, but would also refer to the extremely convincing negative circumstance, that is, to the many cases in which an unmarried woman has plenty of inter-

{p. 56} course and no children. This argument would be repeated over and over again. And also concrete, specially telling examples would be given - childless persons renowned for profligacy, women who lived with one white trader after another without having any baby.

[p. 57} CHAPTER V


ALTHOUGH I was never afraid of using a leading question, or of eliciting the natives' point of view by contradicting it, in discussing the problems of the cause of conception I was somewhat astonished by the fierce opposition to the point of view I was advocating, which alternated with a certain lassitude and sudden, but unconvinced, giving-in. Only late in my Trobriand career did I find out that I was not the first and only person to attack this item of the natives' belief. I was preceded in this attack by the missionary teachers. I speak mainly of the coloured ones, for I am not aware what attitude was taken up by the one or two previous white heads of the mission in the Tro-

{p. 58} briands, and those of my time had only short tenures of office there and did not go into such details. But all my native informants corroborated the fact, once I had discovered it, that the doctrine and ideal of Paternity, and all that tends to strengthen it, is advocated by the coloured Christian teachers. If we consider that the dogma of God the Father and God the Son, the sacrifice of the only Son, the filial love of man to his Maker - that all this falls somewhat flat in a matrilineal society, where the relation between father and son is decreed by tribal law to be that of two strangers, where all personal unity between them is denied, and where the only duties are associated with the mother line, we cannot wonder that Paternity must be the first new truth to be inculcated by proselyting Christians. Otherwise, the idea of the Trinity would have to be translated into matrilineal terms, and we would have to speak of a God kadala (mother's brother) and a God-sister's-son, and a divine baloma (spirit).

{p. 59} The missionaries are also earnestly engaged in propagating sexual morality as we conceive it, in which endeavour the idea of the sexual act as having serious consequences for family life is indispensable. The whole Christian morality, moreover, is strongly associated with the institution of a patrilineal and patriarchal family, with the father as progenitor and master of the household. In short, the religion whose dogmatic essence is based on the sacredness of the Father to Son relationship, and whose morals stand or fall with a strong patriarchal family, must obviously proceed by making the paternal relation strong and firm, by first showing that it has a natural foundation. Thus I discovered - only during my third expedition to New Guinea - that the natives had been somewhat exasperated by having i preached at them what seemed to them an absurdity, and by finding me, so "unmissionary" as a rule, engaged in the same futile argument.

When I found this out, I used to express

{p. 60} the correct physiological view as the "talk of the missionaries," and goad the natives into commenting on it or contradicting it. In this manner I obtained some of my strongest and clearest statements, from which I shall select a few.

Motago'i, one of my most intelligent informants, in answer to a somewhat arrogantly framed airmation that the missionaries after all are right, exclaims: -

"Gala wala, isasopasi, yambwata
Not at all, they lie, always

yambwata nakubukwabiya momona
always unmarried girls seminal fluid

ikasewo litusi gala."
it is brimful children theirs not.

This in free translation means: "Not at all, the missionaries are mistaken; always unmarried girls continually have intercourse, and yet have no children."

Here, in terse and picturesque language, Motago'i expresses the view that, after all, if sexual intercourse were causally con-

{p. 61} nected with child production, it is the unmarried girls who should have children, since they lead a much more intensive sexual life than the married ones - a difficulty and puzzle which really exists, as we shall see later on, but which our informant exaggerates slightly, since unmarried girls do conceive, though not nearly as frequently as anyone holding the "missionary views" would be led to expect. Asked in the course of the same discussion what, then, is the cause of pregnancy: "Blood on the head makes child. The seminal fluid does not make the child. Spirits bring at night time the infant, put on women's heads - it makes blood. Then, after two or three months, when the blood [that is, menstruous blood] does not come out they know: 'Oh! I am pregnant.' "

An informant in Teyava, in a similar discussion, makes several statements, of which I adduce the two most spontaneous and conclusive ones. "Copulation alone cannot produce a child. Night after night for years girls copulate. No child comes."

{p. 62} In this we see again the same argument by empirical evidence that the majority of girls, in spite of their assiduous cultivation of intercourse, do not bring forth. In another statement the same informant says: "They talk that seminal fluid makes child. Lie The spirits indeed bring [children] at night time."

These sayings are trenchant enough, as were those quoted at the beginning of this argument and in its course; but, after all, an opinion is a mere academic expression of belief, the depth and tenacity of which can be best gauged by the test of behaviour. To a South Sea native, as to a European peasant, his domestic animals, that is his pigs, are the most valued and cherished members of the household. And if his earnest and genuine conviction can be seen in anything, it will be in his care for the welfare and good quality of his animals. The South Sea natives are extremely keen to have good, strong, and healthy pigs, and pigs of good breed.

The main distinction which they make

{p. 63} in this respect is between the wild, or bush-pigs, and the tame village pigs. The village pig is considered a great delicacy, while the flesh of the bush-pig is one of the main taboos to people of rank in Kiriwina, a taboo of which they have a genuine horror and disgust. Now, they allow the female domestic pigs to wander on the outskirts of the village and in the bush, where they can pair freely with male bush-pigs. On the other hand, they castrate all the male pigs in the village in order to improve their condition. Thus, naturally, all the progeny are in reality descended from wild bush sires. Yet the natives have not got the slightest inkling of this process. When I said to one of the chiefs: "You eat the child of a bush pig," he simply took it as a bad joke, for making fun of bush-pig eating is not considered altogether good taste by a Trobriander of birth and standing. But he did not understand at all what I really meant.

In one of the discussions on the subject,

{p. 64} when I asked directly how the pigs breed, the answer was: "The female pig breeds by itself," which simply meant that probably there is no baloma involved in the multiplication of domestic animals. When I drew parallels, and stressed the point that small pigs probably are brought by their own balomas they were not convinced, and it was evident that the interest in the subject, and the data supplied by tradition, did not go as far as to inspire any interest in the procreation of pigs.

Very important was a statement spontaneously volunteered to me to deny any possible assumption that pigs breed by means of intercourse. Motago'i drew my attention: "From all male pigs we cut off the testes. They copulate not. Yet the females bring forth." He ignored thus the possible misconduct of the bush-pigs. On another occasion I instanced to the natives the only couple of goats in the Archipelago, which a trader had recently imported, one male and one female. When I asked whether the female would

{p. 65} bear any young if the male were killed, they were quite convinced: "Year after year she will breed." Thus, they have the firm conviction that if a female animal were entirely cut off from any male of the species this would by no means interfere with her fecundity.

Another crucial test is provided by the recent importation of European pigs. In honor of the first trader who brought them, the late Mick George, a truly Homeric Greek, they are called by the natives Bulukwamiki (Mick's pigs), and they will exchange one of them for five to ten of the native pigs. Yet when they acquire one of them they do not take the slightest precautions to make it breed with a male of the same superior race, though they could easily do so. In one instance, when they had several small pigs of European race, they castrated all the males. When reproved by a white trader, and told that by so doing they lowered the whole breed, they simply could not be made to understand, and all over the dis-

{p. 66} trict they continue to allow their valued European pigs to mis-breed.

My article in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute for 1916 quoted verbatim a saying of one of my informants, which was made with reference to pigs: "They copulate, copulate, presently the female will give birth." This I obtained early in the course of my field work in the Trobriands. I commented on it in my article: "Thus here copulation appears to be the u'ula (cause) of pregnancy." This opinion of mine, even in its qualified form, is incorrect. As a matter of fact, during my first visit to the Trobriands, after which the article was written, I never entered more deeply into the matter of animal procreation. The concise native utterance, quoted above, cannot, in the light of subsequent fuller information, be interpreted as implying any knowledge of how pigs really breed. As it stands, it simply means that dilation is as necessary in animals as in human beings. It also implies that in this, as in many other

{p. 67} respects, animals are not subject to the same causal relations as man, in native tradition. In man, spirits are the cause of pregnancy; in animals - it just happens as it does. Again, the Trobrianders ascribe all human ailments to sorcery, while animal disease - is just disease. Men die because of very strong evil magic; animals - just die. But it would be quite incorrect to formulate this in the statement that the natives know, in the case of animals, the natural causes of impregnation, disease, and death; while in man they obliterate this knowledge by an animistic superstructure. The true summary of native outlook is that they are so much more interested in human affairs that they construct a special tradition about all the vital concerns of man, while in animals things are taken as they come, without any attempt at explanation, but also without any insight into the real course of Nature.

Their attitude concerning their own children also bears witness to their ignorance of any causal relation between an

{p. 68} act of sex and the ensuing pregnancy. A man whose wife has conceived during his absence will calmly and cheerfully accept the fact and the child, and he will see no reason at all in this for suspecting her of adultery. One of my informants volunteered his own case as an illustration of this, telling me that after about a year's absence he found a newly-born child at home. He told it with full conviction, and as a final proof of the truth that sexual intercourse had nothing to do with conception. And it must be remembered that no native would ever discuss any subject at all in which the slightest suspicion of his wife's infidelity could be involved. In general, no allusion is ever made to her sexual life, past or present. Pregnancy and childbirth of the wife are, on the other hand, freely discussed.

Another case refers to a native of the small island of Kitava who, after two years' absence, was quite pleased to find a few months' old baby at home, and could not in the slightest degree under-

{p. 69} stand the taunts and allusions indiscreetly made by some white men about his wife's virtue. My friend Layseta, a great sailor and magician of Sinaketa, spent a long time in his later youth away in the Amphlett Islands. After his return he found two children borne by his wife one after the other during his absence. He is very fond of them and of his wife, and when I discussed the matter behind his back, suggesting that one at least of these children could not be his, my interlocutors did not understand my meaning.

Thus we see in these cases that children born in wedlock during a prolonged absence of the husband will yet be recognized by him as his own children, as standing to him in the social relation of child to father. An instructive parallel to this is supplied by cases of children born out of wedlock, where to us it would be obvious who is the physiological father, since the liaison was as exclusive as a marriage. In such a case, however, the man would not D recognize the children as his, and more-

{p. 70} over, since for a girl it is dishonourable to bear children before she is married, he might refuse to marry her. I had a good example of this kind. Gomaya, one of my early informants, had a relation with a girl called Ilamweria. They lived together and were going to be married. She became pregnant and gave birth to a girl, whereupon Gomaya abandoned her. He was quite convinced that she had never had any relations with another boy. So if any question of physiological fatherhood had come at all into his mind, he would have accepted the child as his own and married the mother. But, in accordance with the native point of view, he simply did not inquire into the question of fatherhood. It was enough that there was prenuptial motherhood, which is considered reprehensible by the natives. For Gomaya this was a sufficient reason to give up his matrimonial plans with regard to that particular girl.

As in the case of children born by a married woman her husband is considered

{p. 71} the father ex officio, so in the case of an unmarried girl, there is "no father to the child." If you try to inquire who is the physiological father of such a baby, you simply talk nonsense to a native. The father is defined socially, and in order that there may be fatherhood there must be marriage. By one of these inconsistencies of traditional sentiment, illegitimate children, as we have said, are regarded as an improper action of the mother. Of course there is no sexual guilt associated with it, but to the native to be wrong is simply to be against custom. And it is not the custom for an unmarried girl to have babies, although it is the custom for her to have as much sexual intercourse as she likes. When you ask why i is considered bad, hey will answer:

"Pela gala tamala, gala taytala bikopo'i."

"Because no father his, no one man he might take in his arms."

"Because there is no father to the child,

{p. 72} there is no man to take it in his arms." In this locution, the correct definition of the term tamala is clearly expressed: it is the mother's husband, the man whose role and duty it is to take the child in his arms and to help her in nursing and bringing it up.

{p. 73} CHAPTER VI


THIS seems a convenient place to speak about the very interesting problem of illegitimate children, or, as the natives word it, "children born by unmarried girls," "fatherless children." Several questions, no doubt, must have already obtruded themselves on the reader. Since there is so much sexual freedom, must there not be a great number of children born out of wedlock? Is this really so? If not, what means of prevention do the native possess? If yes, how do they deal with the problem, how do they regard illegitimate children?

As to the first question, whether there are many illegitimate children, it is very remarkable to note that the cases are

{p. 74} extremely few. The girls seem to remain sterile through all their licence, beginning when they are small children and continuing till they marry; they wait till they are married and then conceive and breed sometimes quite prolifically. I express myself cautiously about the number of illegitimate children, for in most cases special difficulties obtain, even in ascertaining the fact. To have prenuptial children is, as I have said, by a remarkable inconsistency of doctrine and custom, considered reprehensible. Thus, out of delicacy for some people present, or out of family interest, or through local pride, the existence of such children is sometimes concealed. Again, these children are often adopted by some relative, and the elastic way in which kinship terms are used make it still more difficult to distinguish between actual and adopted children. If a married man says, "this is my child," it may quite easily be his wife's sister's illegitimate baby. So that an even approximate estimate can be made only in a community

{p. 75} with which one is very well acquainted. Roughly I was able to find perhaps a dozen illegitimate children in all the cases recorded genealogically in the Trobriands. It might be put at about one per cent. In this are not included the above-mentioned illegitimate children of ugly, deformed, or albino women, none of whom happens to figure in the genealogical records made by me.

Thus we are faced with the question: Why are there so few illegitimate children? Here, again, I can speak only in a tentative manner, and I feel that my information is perhaps not quite as full on this point as it could be, had I concentrated more attention on it. One thing I can say with complete confidence, namely, that no preventive means of any description are known, or the slightest idea of them entertained. This, of course, is quite natural. Since the procreative power of the act is not known, since the seminal fluid is considered innocuous, indeed a beneficent ingredient, there is no reason

{p. 76} why they should interfere with its free arrival into the parts which it is meant to lubricate. Indeed, any suggestion of neo-Malthusian appliances makes the natives shudder or laugh, according to mood or temperament. They never practise coitus interruptus, and still less have any notion about chemical or mechanical preventives.

But though I am quite certain about the absence of any means of prevention, I cannot speak with the same conviction about abortion, though probably it is not practised to any large extent. I may say at once that the natives, when discussing these matters, feel neither fear nor constraint, so there can be no question of any difficulties in finding out the state of affairs through their reticence or concealment. My informants told me that there exists some magic to bring about a premature birth, but I was not able either to obtain information about concrete cases in which it was performed, or to find out any spells or rites. Some of the herbs used in this magic were mentioned to me, but

{p. 77} I am certain that none of them possess any physiological properties. Abortion by mechanical means seems, in fine, the only effective way used to checl the increase of population, and there is no doubt that even this is not used on a large scale.

So the problem remains. Can there be any physiological law which makes concep tion less likely when women begin their sexual activity early in life, lead it indefatigably, and mix their lovers freely ? This, of course, cannot be answered here, as it is a purely biological question, but some such solution of the difficulty seems to be the only way out of it, unless I have missed some very important ethnological clue. I am, as I said, by no means confident of my researches being final in this matter.

It is amusing to find that the average white resident or visitor to the Trobriands is deeply interested in this subject, and in this subject only, of all ethnological questions. There is a prevalent belief among the white citizens of east New Guinea that

{p. 78} the Trobrianders are in possession of some powerful and mysterious means of prevention or abortion. This belief is no doubt justified by the remarkable and puzzling facts which we have just been discussing. It is enhanced by insufficient knowledge, and the tendency towards exaggeration and sensationalizing so characteristic of the crude mind. Of insufficient observation I had several examples, for every white man with whom I spoke on the subect would start with the dogmatic assertion that unmarried girls among the Trobrianders never have children, that is, barring those who live with white traders, whereas, as we have seen, cases of children of unmarried girls are on record. Equally incorrect and fantastic is, of course, the belief in the mysterious contraceptives which not even the oldest residents, who are firmly convinced of their existence, have been able to discover. This seems to be an example of the well-known fact that a higher race in contact with a lower one has a tendency to credit

{p. 79} the members of the latter with mysterious demoniacal powers.

Returning now to the question which started us on this digression, that of prevention and abortion, let us note one more point about the disapproval of "fatherless children." Here we find among the Trobrianders a certain tendency of public opinion, almost a moral rule. This moral conviction we, in our own society, share very emphatically with the Trobrianders. And with us we connect the disapproval of illegitimate children with our strong moral condemnation of unchastity. In theory, at least, if not in practice, we condemn the fruits of sexual immorality because of the cause and not because of the consequence. Our syllogism runs thus: "All intercourse out of wedlock is bad; pregnancy is caused by intercourse; hence all unmarried pregnant girls are bad." Thus, when we find in another society the last term of the syllogism endorsed, we jump to the conclusion that the other terms also obtain, especially the middle one. That is, we

{p. 80} assume that the natives know of physiological paternity. We know, however that in the Trobriands the first term is not fulfilled, for intercourse out of wedlock is quite free from censure, unless it offends the special taboos of exogamy and incest. Therefore the middle term cannot serve as connecting link, and the fulfilment of the conclusion, that is, the condemnation of illegitimacy, declares nothing about their knowledge of fatherhood. I have expatiated on this somewhat subtle point, because it is a characteristic example of how difficult it is to cast away our own narrow modes of thinking and feeling, and our own rigid structures of social and moral prejudice. Although I myself should have been on my guard against such traps, and though at that time I was already acquainted with the Trobrianders and their ways of thinking, yet on realizing the disapproval of children out of wedlock, I went through all this false reasoning before the still fuller acquaintance with facts forced me to correct it.

{p. 81} While speaking of the censure of fecundity in unmarried girls, it may be well to mention the disapproval of sterility in married women. The term nakarige (na - female prefix, karige - to die) is used of a sterile woman or female pig. It is a condition bad, unfortunate, and regrettable, though not one which brings shame and discredit on the person concerned. It does not entail any inferiority in the social status of such a woman. The oldest wife of To'uluwa, named Bokuyoba, has no children, yet she is the first in status, as is due to her age. Nor is the word nakarige considered to be indelicate, and a sterile woman will use it when speaking of herself, as will others in her presence. Fertility in married women is, on the other hand, considered a good thing. It affects primarily her maternal kinsmen, and is a matter of important concern to them, as already mentioned.

"The kinsmen rejoice, for their bodies lecome stronger when one of their sisters or nieces has plenty of children." In this

{p. 82} expression we find the interesting conception of collective clan unity, of the members being not only of the same flesh, but almost forming one body.

Returning again to the main trend of our argument, I wish to point out that the scorn and disapproval levelled against illegitimacy is highly significent sociologically. Let us realize once more the interesting and strange constellation of facts: physical fatherhood is unknown; yet fatherhood in a social sense is considered necessary and the "fatherless child" is regarded as something anomalous, contrary to the normal course of events, hence reprehensible. What does this mean? Public opinion, based on tradition and custom, declares that a woman must not become a mother before she marries, though she may enoy as much sexual liberty as she likes within the licit limits. This means that a woman, in order to have her motherhood socially approved of, needs a man, a defender and provider of economic necessities. She has one natural

{p. 83} master and protector in her brother, but he is not sufficient to look after her in all the matters where she needs a guardian. According to native ideas, a woman who is pregnant must at a certain stage abstain from all intercourse and "turn her mind away from men." She needs then a man who will take over all sexual rights in regard to her, abstain even from exercising his own privileges from a certain moment, and guard her from any interference as well as watch her behaviour. All this the brother cannot do, for, owing to the strict brother-sister taboo, he must scrupulously avoid even the thought of anything which is concerned with his sister's sex. Again, there is the need for a man to keep guard over her during childbirth, and "to receive the child into his arms," as the natives put it. Later on, this man has also the duty of sharing in all the tender cares bestowed on the child. Only when the child grows up into a man or woman does he relinquish the greater part of his au-

[p. 84} thority and hand it over to his wife's brother.

In all this the role of the husband is strictly laid down by custom and is considered indispensable. A woman with a child and no husband is therefore, in the eyes of tradition, an incomplete and anomalous group. The disapproval of an illegitimate child and of its mother is, then, a particular instance of the general disapproval of everything which goes against custom, against the normal course of things, of everything which runs counter to the traditional pattern and the customary arrangements of the tribe. The family, consisting of husband, wife, and children, is the standard set down by tribal law, which also prescribes to every member a rigidly defined part to play. It is therefore not right that one of the members of this group should be missing.

Thus, though the natives are ignorant of any physiological need of a male in the constitution of the family, they regard him as indispensable socially. This is very im-

[p. 85} portant. Paternity, unknown in the full biological meaning so familiar to us, is yet maintained by a social dogma which declares: "Every family must have a father; a woman must marry before she may have children; there must be a male to every household."

The institution of the individual family is thus based on a strong feeling of its necessity, quite compatible with an absolute lack of knowledge of its biological foundations. The sociological role of the father is established and defined before there is any recognition of his physiological need.



THE interesting duality between matrilineal and patriarchal influences among the Trobrianders, represented by the mother's brother and the father respectively, is one of the leit-motivs of the first chapter of their tribal life. Here we have come to the very core of the problem, for we see how there are, within the Trobriander's social milieu, with its rigid brother-sister taboo and its ignorance of physical fatherhood, two natural spheres of influence to be exercised over a woman by a man. The one domain is that of sex, from which the brother is absolutely debarred and where the husband's influence is paramount. The other is that in which the natural interests of

[p. 87} blood relationship can be safeguarded properly only by one who is of the same blood. This is the sphere of the woman's brother.

By his inability to touch, or to approach even as a distant spectator, the principal theme in her life - her sex - a wide breach is left in the system of matriliny. Through this breach the husband enters into the closed circle of family and household, and once there makes himself thoroughly at home. To his children he becomes bound by the strongest ties of personal attachment, over his wife he assumes exclusive sexual right, and shares with her the greatest part of the domestic and economic concerns.

On the apparently unpropitious basis of strict matriliny, with its denial of any paternal bond through procreation, and its declaration of the father's extraneousness to his progeny, there spring up certain beliefs, ideas, and customary rules, which smuggle extreme patrilineal principles into the stronghold of mother-right.

{p. 88} One of these ideas is of the kind which figures so largely in the sensational amateur records of savage life and strikes us at first as savage indeed, so lop-sided, distorted, and quaint does it appear. I referto the idea held about similarity between parents and offspring. That this is a favourite topic of nursery gossip, even in civilized communities, needs no special comment. In a matrilineal society, as in the Trobriands, where all maternaI relatives are considered to be of the "same body," and the father to be a "stranger," we wouId naturally expect and have no doubt that the facial and bodily similarity would be traced to the mother's family alone. The contrary is the case, and this is airmed with an extremely strong social emphasis. Not only is it a household dogma, so to speak, that a child never resembles its mother, any of its brothers or sisters, or any of its maternal kinsmen, but it is extremely bad form and a great offence to hint at any such similarity. To resemble one's father, on the other hand,

{p. 89} is a natural, right, and proper thing for a man or woman to do.

I was introduced to this rule of savoir vivre in the usual way by making a fax pas. One of my bodyguard in Omarakana, named Moradeda, was endowed with a peculiar cast of features which had struck me at first sight and fascinated me, for it had a strange similarity to the Australian aboriginal type, wavy hair, broad face, Iow forehead, extremely broad nose with a squashed-in bridge, wide mouth with protruding lips, and a prognathous chin. One day I was struck by the appearance of an exact counterpart to Moradeda, and asked his name and whereabouts. When I was told that he was my friend's elder brother, living in a distant village, I excIaimed: "Ah, truly! I asked about you because your face is alike - alike to that of Moradeda." There came such a hush over all the assembIy that I noticed it at once. Ihe man turned round and left us, while part of the company present, after looking away in a manner half-

{p. 90} embarrassed, half-offended, soon dispersed. I was then told by my confidential informants that I had committed a breach of custom, that I had perpetrated what is called "taputaki migila," a technical expression referring only to this act, which might be translated: "to-defile-by-comparing-to-a-kinsman-his-face." What astonished me in this discussion was, that in spite of the striking resemblance between the two brothers, my informants refused to admit it. In fact, they treated the question as if no one could possibly ever resemble his brother, or, for the matter of that, any maternal kinsman. I made my informants quite angry and displeased with me by arguing the point.

This incident taught me never to hint at such a resemblance in the presence of the people concerned. But I thrashed the matter out well with many natives in subsequent general conversations. I found that every one in the Trobriands will, in the teeth of all the evidence, deny stoutly that similarity can exist betwen matrilineal

{p. 91} kinsmen. You simply irritate and insult a Trobriander if you point to striking instances, exactly as you irritate your next-door neighbour in our own society if you bring before him a glaring truth which contradicts some of his cherished opinions, political, religious, or moral, or which, still worse, runs counter to his personal interests.

The Trobrianders maintain that the mention of such similarity can only be made as an insult to a man. It is, in fact, a technical phrase of serious bad language to say "Migim lumuta," "Thy face thy sister's," which, by the way, is the worst combination of kinship similarity. This expression is considered quite as bad as to say "have intercourse with your sister." But, according to a Trobriander, no sane and decent man can possibly entertain in a sober dispassionate mood such an outrageous thought as that anyone should in the slightest degree resemble his sister.

Still more remarkable is the counterpart to this social dogma, namely, that

{p. 92} every child resembles its father. Such similarity is always assumed and affirmed to exist. Where it is really found, even to a small degree, constant attention is drawn to it as to a thing which is nice, good, and right. It was often pointed out to me how strongly one or the other of the sons of To'uluwa, the chief of Omarakana, resembled his father. Especiall the five favourite sons of his and of Kadamwasila were each said to be exactly like his father. When I pointed out that this similarity to the father implied similarity among each other, such a heresy was indignantly repudiated. There are also definite customs which embody this dogma of patrilineal similarity. Thus, after a man's death, his kinsmen and friends will come from time to time to visit his children in order to "see his face in theirs." They will give them presents and sit looking at them and wailing. This is said to soothe their insides because of having seen once more the likeness of the dead.

{p. 93} How do the natives reconcile the inconsistency of this dogma with the matrilineal system? When asked directly, they will say: "Yes, maternal kinsmen are the same flesh, but similar faces they have not." When you inquire again why it is that people resemble their father, who is a stranger and has nothing to do with the formation of their body, they have a definite answer to give, for there exists a stereotyped doctrine on the subject. "It coagulates the face of the child; for alway he lies with her, they sit together." The expression kuli, to coagulate, to mould, was used over and over again in the answers which I received. This statement is a socially fixed view, concerning the influence of the father over the physique of the child, and not merely the personal opinion of my informants. One of my informants explained it to me more exactly, turning to me his open hand, palm upwards. "Put some soft mash (sesa) on it, and it will mould like the hand. In the same manner, the husband remains

{p. 94} with the woman and the child is moulded." Another man told me: "Always we give food from our hand to the child to eat, we give fruit and dainties, we give betel nut. This makes the child as it is."

I discussed with my informants the existence of half-castes, children of white traders married to native women. I pointed out to them that some look much more like natives than like Europeans. This they again simply denied, maintaining stoutly that all these children have white man's faces, and giving it as another proof of their doctrine. There was no way of shaking their conviction, or of diminishing their dislike of the idea that any one can resemble his mother or her people, an idea condemned by the tradition and the good manners of the tribe.

Thus we see here how an artificial physical link between father and child has been introduced, and how, on one important point it has overshadowed the matrilineal bond. For physical resemblance is a very strong emotional tie between two

[p. 95} people, and its strength is hardly reduced by its being ascribed, not to a physiological, but to a sociological cause - that of continued association between husband and wife.

The somewhat grotesque and fantastic beliefs and ideas here outlined may appear at first irrelevant - mere items for the satisfaction of the curiosity that makes a certain type of Ethnology an amusing but sterile pursuit. But if these beliefs as to procreation and reincarnation be studied in their bearing upon the organization of kinship, their importance becomes patent. My firm conviction is that the ignorance of paternity is an original feature of primitive psychology, and that in all speculations about the origins of Marriage and the Evolution of Sexual Customs, we must bear in mind this fundamental ignorance.


(4) Malinowski - Sex and Repression in Savage Society

Sex and Repression in Savage Society

by Bronislaw Malinowski (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1927).

{p. 44} What is the father's role in Melanesia? Little need be said about it at this stage. He continues to befriend the children, to help them, to teach them what they like and as much as tkey like. Children, it is true, are less interested in him at this stage and prefer, on the whole, their small comrades. But the father is always there as a helpful adviser, half playmate, half protector.

Yet at this period the principle of tribal law and authority, the submission to constraint and to the prohibition of certain desirable things enters the life of a young girl or boy. But this law and constraint are represented by quite another person than the father, by the mother's brother, the male head of the family in a matriarchal society. He it is who actually wields the potestas and who indeed makes ample use of it.

His authority, though closely parallel to that of the father among ourselves, is not exactly identical with it. First of all his influence is introduced into the child's life much later than that of the European father. Then again, he never enters the intimacy

{p. 45} of family life, but lives in another hut and often in a different village, for, since marriage is patrilocal in the Trobriands, his sister and her children have their abode in the village of the husband and father. Thus his power is exercised from a distance and it cannot become oppressive in those small matters which are most irksome. He brings into the life of the child, whether boy or girl, two elements: first of all, that of duty, prohibition and constraint: secondly, especially into the life of the boy, the elements of ambition, pride and social values, half of that, in fact, which makes life worth living for the Trobriander. The constraint comes in, in so far as he begins to direct the boy's occupations, to require certain of his services and to teach him some of the tribal laws and prohibitions Many of these have already been inculcated into the boy by the parents, but the kada (mother's brother) is always held up to him as the real authority behind the rules.

A boy of six will be solicited by his mother's brother to come on an expedition, to begin some work in the gardens, to assist in the carrying of crops. In carrying out these activities, in his maternal uncle's village and together with other members of his clan, the boy learns that he is contributing to the butra of his clan; he begins to feel that this is his own village and own people; to learn the traditions, myths and legends of his clan. The child at this stage also

{p. 46} frequently co-operates with his father, and it is interesting to note the difference in the attitude he has toward the two elders. The father still remains his intimate; he likes to work with him, assist him and learn from him; but he realizes more and more that such co-operation is based on goodwill and not on law, and that the pleasure derived from it must be its own reward, but that the glory of it goes to a clan of strangers. The child also sees his mother receiving orders from her brother, accepting favours from him, treating him with the greatest reverence, crouching before him like a commoner to a chief. He gradually begins to understand that he is his maternal uncle's successor, and that he will also be a master over his sisters, from whom at this time he is already separated by a social taboo forbidding any intimacy.

The maternal uncle is, like the father among us, idealized to the boy, held up to him as the person who should be pleased, and who must be made the model to be imitated in the future. Thus we see that most of the elements, though not all, which make the father's role so difficult in our society, are vested among the Melanesians in the mother's brother. He has the power, he is idealized, to him the children and the mother are subjected, while the father is entirely relieved of all these odious prerogatives and charaeteritic. But the mother's brother introduces

{p. 47} the child to certain new elements which make life bigger, more interesting, and of greater appeal - social ambition, traditional glory, pride in his lineage and kinship, promises of future wealth, po er, and social status.

It must be realized that at the time when our European child starts to find its way in our complex social relations, the Melanesian girl or boy also begins to grasp the principle of kinship which is the main foundation of the social order. These principles cut across the intimacy of family life and rearrange for the child the social world which up to now consisted for him of the extended circles of family, further family, neighbours and village community. The child now learns that he has to distinguish above and across these groups two main categories. The one consists of his real kinsmen, his veyola. To these belong in the first place his mother, his brothers and sisters, his maternal uncle and all their kinsmen. These are people who are of the same substance or the ' same body ' as himself. The men he has to obey, to co-operate with and to assist in work, war and personal quarrels. The women of his clan and of his kinship are strictly tabooed sexually for him. The other social category consists of the strangers or ' outsiders', tonakava. By this name are called all those people who are not related by matrilineal ties, or who do not belong to

{p. 258} the existence of authority displayed, tribal conditions taught and very often hammered into the body by a system of privations and ordeals. From the sociological point of view, the initiations consist in the weaning of the boy from the domestic shelter and submitting him to tribal authority. In cultures where there is no initiation the process is gradual and diffused, but its elements are never absent. The boy is gradually allowed or encouraged to leave the house or to work himself loose from the household influences, he is instructed in tribal tradition and submitted to male authority.

But the male authority is not necessarily that of the father. In the earlier part of this book it is shown how such submission of the boy to paternal authority works and what it means. We reformulate it here in the terminology of our present argument. In societies where the authority is placed in the hands of the maternal uncle the father can remin the domestic helpmate and friend of his sons. The father to son sentiment can develop simply and directly. The early infantile attitudes gradually and continually ripen with the interests of boyhood and maturity. The father in later life plays a role not entirely dissimilar to that at the threshold of existence. Authority, tribal ambition, repressive elements and coercive measures are associated with another sentiment, centring round the person of the maternal uncle and building

{p. 259} up along entirely different lines. In the light of the psychology of sentiment formation, and here I must refer to Shand's account, it is obvious that such a growth of two sentiments, each simply and internally harmonious, would be infinitely easier than the building up of the paternal relation under father-right.

Under father-right the paternal role is associated with two elements each of which creates considerable difficulty in the building up of the sentiment. Where this mode of reckoning of descent is associated with some pronounced form of patria potesas the father has to adopt the position of the final arbiter in force and authority. He has gradually to cast off the role of tender and protective friend, and to adopt the position of strict judge, and hard executor of law. This change invclves the incorporation within the sentiment of attitudes which are as diametrically opposed to one another as the attitude of sensuous desire and reverence within the maternal sentiment. There is no need, perhaps, to develop this point, to show how difficult it is to link up confidence with repressive powers, tenderness with authority, and friendship with rule, for on all these we have dwelt exhaustively in the earlier parts of the book. There also we have spoken of the other aspect which is always associated with father-right, even where this does not imply a definite paternal authority, for the father has always to be dispossessed and replaced by the son. Even though

{p. 260} his powers might be limited he is yet the principal male of the older generation, represents law, tribal duties and repressive taboos. He stands for coercion, for morality, and for the limiting social forces. Here also the building up of the relationship upon the initial foundation of tenderness and effective response into an attitude of repression is not easy. All this we know.

Here, however, it is important to place this knowledge into our present argument: in the development of the human family the relation of father to offspring, instead of being based on an innate response which is closed by the departure of the mature child, has to be developed into a sentiment. The foundations of the sentiment lie in the biologically conditioned tenderness of paternal responses, but upon these foundations a relation of exacting, stern, coercive repression has to be built up. The father has to coerce, he has to represent the source of repressive forces, he becomes the lawgiver within the family and the enforcing agent of the tribal rules. Patria potestas converts him from a tender and loving guardian of infancy into a powerful and often dreaded autocrat. The constitution of the sentiment into which such contradictory emotions enter must therefore be difficult. And yet it is just this contradictory combination of elements which is indispensable for human culture. For the father is at the earlier stages the biologically indispensable member of the family, his function is to protect the offspring.

{p. 261} This natural endowment of tenderness is the capital upon which the family can draw in order to keep him interested and attached to it. But here, again, culture has to make use of this emotional attitude, in imposing functions of an entirely different type upon him as the eldest male within the family. For as the children, especially the sons, grow up, education, cohesion within the family, and co-operation deman(l the eistence of a personal authority which stands for the enforcement of order within the family and for the conformation to tribal law outside. The difficult position of the father is, as we can see, not the result merely of male jealousy, of the ill-tempers of an older man and of his sexual envy, as seems to be implied in most psycho-analytic writings; it is a deep and essential character of the human family which has to undertake two tasks: it has to carry on propagation of the species and it has to insure the continuity of culture. The paternal sentiment with its two phases, the first protective, the other coercive, is the inevitable correlate of the dual function in the human family. The essential attitudes within the (Edipus complex, the ambivalent tenderness and repulsion between son and father, are directly founded in the growth of the family from nature into culture. There is no need for an ad lOC hypothesis in order to explain these features. We can see them emerging from the very constitution of the human family.

{p. 262} There is only one way of avoiding the dangers which surround the paternal relation and this is to associate the typical elements which enter into the paternal relation with two different people. This is the configuration which we find under mother-right.

{p. 263} XI


WE are now in a position to approach the vexed problem of paternal and maternal descent, or, as it is more crisply but less precisely called, father-right and mother-right.

Once we explicitly state that the expressions "mother-right" and "father-right" do not imply the existence of authority or power, we can use them without danger as being more elegant than matriliny and patriliny, to which terms they are equivalent. The questions usually asked with regard to these two principles are: which of them is more "primitive", what are the "origins" of either, were there definite "stages" of matriliny and patriliny? - and so on. Most theories of matriliny aimed at associating this institution with the early existence of promiscuity, the resulting uncertainty of fatherhood and thus with the need of counting kinship through females.1 The variations on the theme pater semper incerts fill many volumes on primitive morality, kinship, and mother-right.

1 See e.g. E. S. Hartland, Primitive Society, 1921, pp. 2, 32, and passim.

{p. 264} As often happens, the criticism which has to be directed against most theories and hypotheses must start with a definition of the concept and the formulation of the problem. Most theories imply that fatherright and mother-right are mutually exclusive alternatives. Most hypotheses place one of these alternatives at the beginning, the other at a later stage of culture. Mr. S. Hartland, for instance, one of the greatest anthropological authorities on primitive sociology, speaks of "the mother as the sole foundation of society" (op. cit., p. 2) and affirms that under mother-right "descent and therefore kinship are traced exclusively through the mother". This conception runs throughout the work of this eminent anthropologist. In it we see mother-right as a self-contained social system, embracing and controlling all aspects of organization. The task which this writer has put before himself is to prove "that the earliest ascertainable systematic method of deriving human kinship is through the woman only, and that patrilineal reckoning is a subsequent development" (p. 1O). Remarkably enough, however, right through Mr. Hartland's work, in which he tries to prove the priority of matrilineal over patrilineal descent, we encounter invariably one statement: there is always a mixture of mother-right and father-right. In a summarizing statement indeed, Mr. Hartland says that : - "Patriarchal rule and patrilineal kinship have

{p. 265} made perpetual inroads upon mother-right all over the world; consequently matrilineal institutions are folmd in almost all stages of transition to a state of society in which the father is the centre of kinship and government" (p. 34). As a matter of fact, the correct statement would be that in all parts of the world we find maternal kinship side by side with institutions of paternal authority, and we find the two modes of linking descent inextricably mingled.

The question arises whether it is at all necessary to invent any hypotheses about "first origins" and "successive stages" in the counting of descent and then to have to maintain that from the lowest to the highest types of society humanity lives in a transitional state. It seems that the empirica] conclusion would rather be that motherhood and fatherhood are never found independent of each other. The logical line of inquiry indicated by the facts would be first of all to ask the question whether there is such a thing as matriliny independent of paternal reckoning and whether perhaps the two types of counting descent are not complementary to each other rather than antithetic. E. B. Tylor and W. H. R. Rivers had already seen this line of approach and Rivers, for instance, splits up mother-right and father-right into three independent principles of counting: descent, inheritance and succession. The best treatment of the subject, houever, we owe to Dr. Lowie, who has brought order

{p. 266} into the problem and has also introduced the very efficient terminology of bilateral and unilateral kinship. The organization of the family is placed on the bilateral principle. The organization of a clan is associated with the unilateral kinship reckoning. Lowie1 very clearly shows that, since the family is a universal unit and since genealogies are universally counted equally far on both sides, it is nothing short of preposterous to speak about the purely matrilineal or patrilineal society. This position is entirely unassailable. Equally important is Lowie's theory of the clan. He has shown that in a society where in certain respects the one side of kinship is emphasized there will arise groups of extended kindred corresponding to one or other of the sib or clan organizations of mankind.

It will be well perhaps to supplement Lowie's argument and to explain why unilateral emphasis has to be placed on the counting of certain human relations, in what respects this is done, and what are the mechanisms of unilateral kinship reckoning.

We have seen that in all the matters in which the father and the mother are vitally essential to the child, kinship has to be counted on both sides. The very institution of the family, involving always both parents, binding the child with a two-fold tie, is the starting point of bilateral kinship

1 R. H. Lowie, Primitive Society, chapters on the "Family, "Kinship", and the "Sib".

{p. 267} reckoning. If we distinguish for a moment between the sociological reality of native life and the doctrines of kinship reckoning entered into by the natives, we can see that kinship is counted on both sides at the earliest stages of the individual's life. Even there, however, though both parents are relevant, their roles are neither identical nor symmetrical. As life advances, the relation between the child and his parents changes and conditions arise which make an explicit sociological counting of kinship imperative - which, in other words, force society to frame its own doctrine of kinship. The latter stages of education, as we have seen, consist in the handing over of material possessions and of the tradition of knowledge and art associated with them. They consist also in the teaching of social attitudes, obligations and prerogatives, which are associated with succession to dignity and rank. The transmission of material goods, moral values, and personal prerogatives has two sides; it is a burden on the parent who always has to teach, to exert himself, to work patiently upon the novice; it is also a surrender on the parents' side of valuables, possessions and exclusive rights. Thus, for both reasons, the lineal transmission of culture from one generation to another has to be based upon a strong emotional foundation. It must take place between individuals united by strong sentiments of love and affection. As we know, society can

{p. 268} draw upon only one source for such sentiments - the biological endowment of parental tendencies. Hence, transmission of culture in all these aspects is invariably associated with the biological relation of parent to child, it always takes place within the family. This is not enough, however. There are still the possibilities of paternal transmission, maternal transmission, or else transmission in both lines. This latter can be shown to be the least satisfactory: it would introduce into a process which in itself is surrounded with perils, complications, and psychologica] dangers, an element of ambiguity and confusion. The individual would always have the choice of belonging to two groups; he could always claim possessions from two sources; he would always have two alternatives and a double status. Reciprocally, a man could always leave his position and his social identity to one of two claimants. This type of society would introduce a perpetual source of strife, of difficulty, of conflict, and as must e clear at first sight, it would create an intolerable situation. Indeed, we find our conclusion fully confirmed that' in no human society are descent, succession and' inheritance left undetermined. Even in such com-. munities as those of Polynesia, where an individual can follow his maternal or paternal line alternatively, he must make his choice ear]y in life. Thus unilateral kinship is not an accidental principle. It cannot be " explained" as due to ideas of paternity, or to this

{p. 269} or that feature of primitive psychology or social organization. It is the only possible way of dealing with the prohlems of transmission of possessions, dignities, and social privileges. As we shall see, however, this does not preclude a number of complications, supplementary phenomena and secondary reactions. There is still the choice between mother-right and father-right.

Let us have a closer look at the working of the principle of maternal and paternal kinship. As we know, the organization of emotions within the sentiment is closely correlated with the organization of society. In the formation of the maternal sentiment, as we followed it in detail in the first part of the book and as we summarized it in one of the ]ast chapters, we are not able to see any deep disturbance by the change from the early tenderness to the exercise of authority. Under mother-right it is not the mother who wields coercive powers but her brother, and succession does not introduce any antagonisms and jealousies between l the mother and her son, for here again he inherits only from her brother. At the same time the bond of personal affection and tenderness between the mother and the child is, in spite of all cultural and socia] influences to the contrary, stronger than between the father and the child. Nor is there any reason to deny that the obvious physical nature of motherhood may have greatly contributed towards the emphasis

{p. 270} of the bodily identity between offspring and mother. Thus, while in the maternal tie the ideas about procreation, the tender feelings of infancy, the stronger emotional ties between mother and child would lead to a more powerful sentiment, this sentiment is in no way disturbed by the burden of legal and economic transmission which it entails. In other words, under mother-right the social decree that the son has to inherit from the mother's brother in no way spoils the relation to the mother and on the whole it expresses the fact that this relation is empirically more obvious and emotionally stronger. As we have seen in the detailed discussion of the institutions of one matrilineal society, the mother's brothe}, who represents stern authority, social ideals and ambitions, is very suitably kept at a distance outside the family circle.

Father-right, on the other hand, entails, as we have seen in detail in the last chapter, a definite break within the formation of the sentiment. In the patrilineal society the father has to incorporate in himself the two aspects, that of tender friend and rigid guardian of law. This creates both a disharmony within the sentiment, and social difficulties within the family by disturbing co-operation and by creating jealousies and rivalries at its very heart.

One more point may be mentioned. Even more in primitive communities than in civilized societies, kinship dominates the regulation of sexual attitudes.

{p. 271} The extension of kinship beyond the family implies in many societies the formation of exogamy side by side with the formation of clans. Under mother-right, the prohibition of incest within the family is in a simple manner extended into the prohibition of sexual intercourse within the clan. In a matrilineal society, therefore, the building up of the general sexual attitude towards all women of the community is a continuously harmonious and simple process. In a patriarchal society, on the other hand, the rules of incest which apply to the members of the family are not simply extended to the clan but a new scheme of ideas of the sexually licit and illicit has to be built up. Patrilineal exogamy does not include the one person with whom incest should be most rigorously avoided, that is the mother. In all this we see a series of reasons why mother-right might be considered a more useful principle of social organization than father-right. The utility is obviously associated with that level of human organization where kinship plays a paramount sociological part in its narrower as well as in its classificatorv form.

It is clearly important to realize that father-right also presents considerable advantages. Under mother-right there is always a double authority over the child and the family itself is cleft. There develops that complex cross-system of relationship which in primitive societies increases the strength of social texture but

{p. 272} which in higher societies would introduce innumerable complications. As culture advances, as the institutions of clan and classificatory kinship disappear, as the organization of the local community of tribe, city, and state has to become simpler, the principle of father right naturally becomes dominant. But this brings us out of our special line of inquiry.

To sum up, we have seen that the relative advantages of mother-right and father-right are well balanced and that it would probably be impossible to assign to either of them a general priority or a wider occurrence. The advantage of the unilateral as against the bilateral principle of kinship counting in legal, economic and social matters, however, is beyond any doubt and cavil.

The most important point is to realize that neither mother-right nor father-right can ever be an exclusive rule of counting kinship or descent. It is only in the transmission of tangible values of a material,moral or social nature that one of the two principles becomes legally emphasized. As I have tried to show on other occasions,1 such a legal emphasis brings with it certain customary traditional reactions which tend to a certain extent to obliterate its one-sided working.

Returning once more to our starting-point, that of the criticism expressed by Dr. Jones on the conclusions

1 Crime and Custom in Savage Society, 1926; Nature, supplement of 6th February, 1926; and article of 15th August, 1925.

{p. 273} reached in the previous parts of the book, it can now be seen that the appearance of mother-right is not a mysterious phenomenon brought about by "unknown social and economic reasons". Mother-right is one of the two alternatives of counting kinship, both of which shows certain advantages. Those of mother-right are perhaps on the whole greater than those of father-right. And among them unquestionably we have to mention the central point which has been brought out in this chapter: the value which it has in eliminating the strong repressions in the paternal sentiment and in placing the mother in a more consistent and better adapted position within the scheme of sexual prohibitions in the community.


(5) Bronislaw Malinowski - The Sexual Life of Savages

The Sexual Life of Savages in North-West Melanesia, 3rd edition, with a Special Foreword (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1932).


How the Discovery of "Group Marriage" followed its Invention.

It is this isolating of loose items or "traits", this dissecting of culture which makes the reconstructive attitude dangerous in the field. Thus take an apparently innocent, theoretical pastime: speculations about the "origins of marriage". One school, and a very powerful school, believes in group marriage, that is, in a state when individual marriage was unknown and instead of that human beings were sexually united into group marriage - something very immoral, terribly prurient, in fact, so unthinkable that it has never been clearly defined! Can you imagine Morgan, the respectable Puritan of New England, entering into details of his own famous hypothesis, "group marriage," explaining how it really took place? The fact is that Morgan never did analyse or define his fundamental categories of primitive organization: "promiscuity", "group marriage," "consanguine family," and so on. This was, perhaps, excusable, certainly comprehensible, in a man of his moral outlook and with a lack of sociological training. He was a pioneer, in many ways a great pioneer, but he was not a schooled student of human society. What is really shocking to the modern sociologist is that not one of his numerous followers ever exercised his creative imagination sufficiently to give us a clear vision and definition of those imaginary modes of human mating.

{p. xxxiii} But postulated and affirmed they were, and they became an obsession to the amateur field-worker as well as to the theoretical student.

"Numerous instances" of "group marriage" were found all over the world and brought triumphantly to Morgan and laid at his puritanic doorstep. Thus we have the famous pirrauru institution of Central Australia made into a "form of group marriage". Thrs was done by tearing the pirrauru out of its context, failing completely to inquire into its non-sexual aspects, and over-emhasizing its sexual side. By identifying in the special puritanic euphemism sexual relations with marital relations, pirrauru was made into "an actually existing form of group marriage". In reality this is neither marriage nor a group relationship but a form of seriatim cicisbeism (cf. my Family among the Australian Aborigines, ch. v, 1913). And all this happened because the writers who were describing it were looking for "traces of group marriage", and were not interested in a full all-round description of the working institutions as they really existed and functioned within a concrete and complex sociological context. In Central Australia individual marriage, which is real marriage, does exist. The question which our first-hand observers should have answered is: "What is the relation between the pirrauru institution and marriage; what actual services do the pirrauru partners render to one another besides occasional mutual sexual enjoyment?" Such an analysis would have shown that while marriage in Central Australia is a domestic, ceremonial, legal, religious, and procreative institution, the pirrauru is mainly a legalized sexual relationship.


When a boy reaches the age of from twelve to fourteen years, and attains that physical vigour which comes with sexual maturity, and when, above all, his increased strength and mental ripeness allow him to take part, though still in a somewhat limited and fitful manner, in some of the economic activities of his elders, he ceases to be regarded as a child (gwadt), and assumes the position of adolescent (ulatile or to'ulatile). At the same time he receives a different status, involving some duties and many privileges, a stricter observance of taboos, and a greater participation in tribal affairs. He has already donned the pubic leaf for some time; now he becomes more careful in his wearing of it, and more interested in its appearance. The girl emerges from childhood into adolescence through the obvious bodily changes: "her breasts are round and full; her bodily hair begins to grow; her menses flow and ebb with every moon," as the natives put it. She also has no new change in her attire to make; for she has much earlier assumed her fibre skirt, but now her interest in it from the two points of view of elegance and decorum is greatly increased.

At this stage a partial break-up of the family takes place. Brothers and sisters must be segregated in obedience to that stringent taboo which plays such an important part in tribal life. The elder children, especially the males, have to leave the house, so as not to hamper by their embarrassing presence the sexual life of their parents. This partial disintegration of the familY group is effected by he boy moving to a house tenanted by bachelors or by elderly widowed male relatives or friends. Such a house is called bukumatula, and in the next section we shall becolne acquainted with the details of lts arrangement. The girl sometimes goes to

{p. 54} the house of an elderly widowed maternal aunt or other relative.

As the boy or girl enters upon adolescence the nature of his or her sexual activity becomes more serious. It ceases to be mere child's play and assumes a prominent place among life's interests. What was before an unstable relation culminating in an exchange of erotic manipulation or an immature sexual act becomes now an absorbing passion, and a matter for serious endeavour. An adolescent gets definitely attached to a given person, wishes to possess her, works purposefully towards this goal, plans to reach the fulfilment of his desires by magical and other means, and finally rejoices in achievement. I have seen young people of this age grow positively miserable through ill-success in love. This stage, in fact, differs from the one before in that personal preference has now come into play and with it a tendency towards a greater permanence in intrigue. The boy develops a desire to retain the fidelity and exclusive affection of the loved one, at least for a time. But this tendency is not associated so far with any idea of settling down to one exclusive relationship, nor do adolescents yet begin to think of marriage. A boy or girl wishes to pass through many more experience; he or she still enjoys the prospect of complete freedom and has no desire to accept obligations. Though pleased to imagine that his partner is faithful, the youthful lover does not feel obliged to reciprocate this fidelity.

We have seen in the previous section that a group of children forming a sort of small republic within the community is conspicuous in every village. Adolescence furnishes the community with another small group, of youths and girls. At this stage, however, though the boys and girls are much more bound up in each other as regards amorous interests, they but rarely mix in public or in the daytime. The group is really broken up into two, according

{p. 55} to sex (pls. 18 and 19; see also pls. 59 and 61). To this division here correspond two words to'ulale and nakubukwabuya, there being no one expression - such as there is to describe the younger age group, gugwadi, children - to define the adolescent youth of both sexes.

The natives take an evident pride in this, "the flower of the village", as it might be called. They frequently mention that "all the to'ulatile and nakubukwabuya (youths and girls) of the village were there". In speaking of some competitive game, or dance or sport, they compare the looks or performance of their own youths with those of some other village, and always to the advantage of their own. This group lead a happy, free, arcadian existence, devoted to amusement and the pursuit of pleasure.

Its members are so far not claimed by any serious duties, yet their greater physical strength and ripeness give them more independence and a wider scope of action than they had as children. The adolescent boys participate, but mainly as freelances, in garden work (see pl. 19), in the fishing and hunting and in oversea expeditions; they get all the excitement and pleasure, as well as some of the prestige, yet remain free from a great deal of the drudgery and many of the restrictions which trammel and weigh on their elders. Many of the taboos are not yet quite binding on them, the burden of magic has not yet fallen on their shoulders. If they grow tired of work, they simply stop and rest. The self-discipline of ambition and subservience to traditional ideals, which moves all the elder indlviduals and leaves them relatively little personal freedom, has not yet quite drawn these boys into the wheels of the social machine. Girls, too, obtain a certain amount of the enjoyment and excitement denied to children by joining in some of the activities of their elders, while still escaping the worst of the drudgery.

{p. 56} Young people of this age, besides conducting their love affairs more seriously and intensely, widen and give a greater variety to the setting of their amours. Both sexes arrange picnics and excursions and thus their indulgence in intercourse becomes associated with an enjoyment of novel experiences and fine scenery. They also form sexual connections outside the village community to which they belong. Whenever there occurs in some other locality one of the ceremonial occasions on which custom permits of licence, thither they repair, usually in bands either of boys or of girls, since on such occasions opportunity of indulgence offers for one sex alone (see ch. ix, esp. secs. 6 and 7).

It is necessary to add that the places used for love-making differ at this stage from those of the previous one. The small children carry on their sexual practices surreptitiously in bush or grove as a part of their garnes, using all sorts of makeshift arrangements to attain privacy, but the ulatile (adolescent) has either a couch of his own in a bachelors' house, or the use of a hut belonging to one of his unmarried relatives. In a certain type of yam-house, too, there is an empty closed-in space in which boys sometimes arrange little " cosy-corners ", affording room for two. In these, they make a bed of dry leaves and mats, and thus obtain a comfortable garconniere, where they can meet and spend a happy hour or two with their loves. Such arrangements are, of course, necessary now that amorous intercourse has become a passion instead of a game.

But a couple will not yet regularly cohabit in a bachelors' house (bukumatula), living together and sharing the same bed night after night. Both girl and boy prefer to adopt more furtive and less conventionally binding methods, to avoid lapsing into a permanent relationship which might put unnecessary restraint upon their liberty by becoming generally known. That is why they usually prefer a small nest in the sokwaypa (covered yam-

{p. 57} house), or the temporary hospitality of a bachelors' house.

We have seen that the youthful attachments between boys and girls at this stage have ripened out of childish games and intimacies. All these young people have glown up in close propinquity and with full knowledge of each other. Such early acquaintances take fire, as it were, under the influence of cerlain entertainments, where the intoxicating influence of music and moonlight, and the changed nlood and attire of all the participants, transfigure the boy and girl in each other's eyes. Intimate observation of the natives and their personal confidences have convinced me that extraneous stimuli of this kind play a great part in the love affairs of the Trobrianders. Such opportunities of mutual transformation and escape from the monotony of everyday life are afforded not only by the many fixed seasons of festivity and permitted licence, but also by that monthly increase in the people's pleasure-seeking mood which leads to many special pastimes at the full of the moon.

Thus adolescence marks the transition between infantile and playful sexualities and those serious permanent relations hich precede marriage. During this intermediate period love becomes passionate and yet remains free.

As time goes on, and the boys and girls grow older, their intrigues last lnger, and their mutual ties tend to become stronger and more permanent. A personal preference as a rule develops and begins definitely to overshalow all other love affairs. It may be based on true sexual passion or else on an affinity of characters. Practical considerations become involved in it and, sooner or later, the man thinks of stabilizing _ of his liaisons by marriage. In the ordinary cour of events, every marriage is preceded by a more or less protracted period of

{p. 58} sexual life in common. This is generally known and spoken of, and is regarded as a public intimation of the matrimonial projects of the pair. It serves also as a test of the strength of their attachmnt and extent of their mutual compatibility. This trial period also gives time for the prospective bridegroom and for the woman's family to prepare economically for the event.

Two people living together as permanent lovers are described respectively as his woman (la vivila) and "her man" (la ta'u). Or else a term, also used to describe the friendship between two men, is applied to this relationship (lubay-, with pronominal suffixes). In order to distinguish between a passing liaison and one which is considered preliminary to marriage, they would say of the female concerned in the latter: "la vivla moktta; imisya yambwata yambwata" - "his woman truly; he sleeps with her always always." In this locution the sexual relationship between the two is denoted by the verb "to sleep with" (imisiya), the durative and iterative form of masisi, to sleep. The use of this verb also emphasizes the lawfulness of the relation, for it is used in talking of sexual intercourse between husband and wife, or of such relations as the speaker wishes to discuss seriously and respectfully. An approximate equivalent in English would be the verb "cohabit". The natives have two other words in distinction to this. The verb kaylasi, which implies an illicit element in the act, is used when speaking of adultery or other forms of non-lawful intercourse. Here the English word "fornicate" would come nearest to rendering the native meaning. When the natives wish to indicate the crude, physiological fact, they use the word kayta, translatable, though pedantically, by the verb "copulate with".

The pre-matrimonial, lasting intrigue is based upon and maintained by personal elements only. There is no legal obligation on either party. They

{p. 59} may enter into and dissolve it as they like. In fact this relationship differs from other liaisons only in its duration and stability. Towards the end, when marriage actually appraches, the element of personal responsibility and obligation becomes stronger. The two now regularly cohabit in the same house; and a considerable degree of exclusiveness in sexual matters is observed by them. But they have not yet given up their personal freedom; on the several occasions of wider licence affianced couples are invariably separated and each partner is "unfaithful" with his or her porary choice. Even within the village, in the normal course, the girl who is definitely going to marry a particular boy will bestow favours on other men, though a certain measure of decorum must be observed in this; if she sleeps out too often, there will be possibly a dissolution of the tie and certainly friction and disagreement. Neither boy nor girl may go openly and flagrantly with other partners on an amorous expedition. Quite apart from nocturnal cohabitation, the two are supposed to be seen in each other's company and to make a display of their relationship in public. Any deviation from the exclusive liaison must be decent, that is to say, clandestine. The relation of free engagement is the natural outcome of a series of trial liaisons, and the appropriate preliminary test of marriage.


The most important feature of this mode of steering towards marriage, through gradually lengthening and strengthening intimacies, is an institution which might be called "the limited bachelors house", and which indeed suggests at first sight the presence of a "group concubinage. Is clear that in order to enable pairs of lovers

{p. 60} permanently to cohabit, some building is needed which will afford them seclusion. We have seen the makeshift arrangements of children and the more comfortable, but not yet permanent love-nests of adolescent boys and girls, and it is obvious that the lasting liaisons of youth and adult girls require some special institution, more definitely established, more physical]y comfortable, and at the same time having the approval of custom.

To meet this need, tribal custom and etiquette offer accommodation and privacy in the form of the bukumatula, the bachelors' and unmarried girls' house of which mention has already been made (see pls. 20 and 21). In this a limited number of couples, some two, three, or four, live for longer or shorter periods together in a temporary community. It also and incidentally offers shelter for younger couples if they want amorous privacy for an hour or two.

We must now give some more detailed attention to this institution, for it is extremely important and highly significant from many points of view. We must consider the position of the houses in the village, their internal arrangements and the manner in which life within the bukumatula shapes itself.

In the description of the typical village in the Trobriands (ch. i, sec. 2), attention was drawn to its schematic division into several parts. This division expresses certain sociological rules and regularities. As we have seen, there is a vague association between the central place and the male life of the community; between the street and feminine activities. Again, all the houses of the inner row, which consists principally of storehouses (P1sS. 1O and 82), are subject to certain taboos, especially to the taboo of cooking, which is believed to be inimical to the stored yam. The outer ring, on the other hand, consists of household dwellings, and there cooking is allowed (pls. 4 and 5). With this distinction is associated the fact that all the

{p. 61} establishments of married people have to stand in the outer ring, whereas a bachelor's house may be allowed among the storehouses in the middle. The inner row thus consists of yam-houses (bwayma), personal huts of a chief and his kinsmen (lisioa) (P1. 1), and bachelor's houses (bukumatula). The outer ring is macle up of matrimonial homes (bulaviyaka), closed yam-houses (sokwaypa), and widows or widowers' houses (bwala nakaka'u) The main distinction between the two rings is the taboo on cooking. A young chief's lisiga (personal hut) is as a rule used also to accommodate other youths and thus becmes a bukumatula with all that this implies (pl. 20).

At present there are five bachelors' establishments in Omarakana, and four in the adjoining village of Kasana'i. Their number has greatly diminished owing to missionary influence. Indeed, for fear of being singled out, admonished and preached at, the owners of some bukumatula now erect them in the outer ring, where they are less conspicuous. Some ten years ago my informants could count as many as fifteen bachelors' homes in both villages, and my oldest acquaintances remember the time when there were some thirty. This dwindling in number is due, of curse, partly to the enormous decrease of population, and only partly to the fact that nowadays some bachelors live with their parents, some in widowers' houses, and some in the missionary compounds. But whatever the reason it is needless to say that this state of affairs does not enhance true sex morality.

The internal arrangements of a bukumatula are simple. The furniture consists almost exclusively of bunks with mat coverings. Since the inmates lead their life in associatin with other households in the day-time, and keer all their working implements in other houses, the inside of a typical bukumatula is strikingly bare. It lacks the feminine touch, the impression of being fully inhabited.

{p. 62} In such an interior the older boys and their temporary mistresses live together. Each male owns his own bunk and regularly uses it. When a couple dissolve their liaison, it is the girl who moves, as a rule, to find another sleeping-place with another sweetheart. The bukumatula is, usually, owned by the group of boys who inhabit it, one of them, the eldest, being its titular owner. I was told that sometimes a man would build a house as a bukumatula for his daughter, and that in olden days there used to be unmarried people's houses owned and tenanted by girls. I never met, however, any actual instance of such an arrangement.

At first sight, as I have said, the institution of the bukumatula might appear as a sort of "Group Marriage" or at least "Group Concubinage", but analysis shows it to be nothing of the kind. Such wholesale terms are always misleading, if we allow them to carry an extraneous implication. To call this institution "Group Concubinage" would lead to misunderstanding; for it must be remembered that we have to deal with a number of couples who sleep in a common house, each in an exclusive liaison, and not with a group of people all living promiscuously together; there is never an exchange of partners, nor any poaching nor "complaisance". In fact, a special code of honour is observed within the bukumatula, which makes an inmate much more careful to respect sexual rights within the house than outside it. The word kaylasi, indicating sexual trespass, would be used of one who offended against this code; and I was told that "a man should not do it, because it is very bad, like adultery with a friend's wife."

Within the bukumatula a strict decorum obtains. The inmates never indulge in orgiastic pastimes, and it is considered bad form to watch another couple during their love-making. I was told by my young friends that the rule is either to wait till all the others are asleep, or else for all the pairs of a house to

{p. 63} undertake to pay no attention to the rest. I could find no trace of any "voyeur" interest taken by the average boy, nor any tendency to exhibitionism. Indeed, when I was discussing the positions and technique of the sexual act, the statement was volunteered that there are specially unobtrustive ways of doing it "so as not to wake up the other people in the bukumat!la."

Of course, two lovers living together in a bukumatula are not bound to each other by any ties valid in tribal law or imposed by custom. They foregather under the spell of personal attraction, are kept together by sexual passion or personal attachment, and part at will. The fact that in due course a permanent liaison often develops out of a temporary one and ends in marriage is due to a complexity of causes, which we shall consider later; but even such a gradually strengthening liaison is not binding until marriage is contracted. Bukumatula relationships, as such, impose no legal tie.

Another important point is that the pair's community of interest is limited to the sexual relation only. The couple share a bed and nothing else. In the case of a permanent liaison about to lead to marriage, they share it regularly; but they never have meals together; there are no services to be mutually rendered, they have no obligation to help each other in any way, there is, in short, nothing which would constitute a common menage. Only seldom can a girl be seen in front of a bachelors' house as in plate 21, and this as a rule means that she is very much at home there, that there has been a liaison of long standing and that the two are going to be married soon. This must be clearly realized, since such words as "liaison" and "concubinage", in the European use, usually imply a community of household goods and interests. In the French language, the expressin vivre en menage, describing typical concubinage, implies a shared domestic economy, and other phases of life in common,

{p. 64} besides sex. In Kiriwina this phrase could not be correctly applied to a couple living together in the bukumatula.

In the Trobriands two people about to be married must never have a meal in common. Such an act would greatly shock the moral susceptibility of a native, as well as his sense of propriety. To take a girl out to dinner without having previously married her - a thing permitted in Europe - would be to disgrace her in the eyes of a Trobriander. We object to an unmarried girl sharing a man's bed - the Trobriander would object just as strongly to her sharing his meal. The boys never eat within, or in front of, the bukumatula, but always join their parents or other relatives at every meal.

The institution of the bukumatula is, therefore, characterized by: (1) individual appropriation, the partners of each couple belonging exclusively to one another; (2) strict decorum and absence of any orgiastic or lascivious display; (3) the lack of any legally binding element; (4) the exclusion of any other community of interest between a pair, save that of sexual cohabitation.

Having described the liaisons which lead directly to marriage, we end our survey of the various stages of sexual life previous to wedlock. But we have not exhausted the subject - we have simply traced the normal course of sexuality and that in its main outlines only. We have yet to consider those licensed orgies to which reference has already been made, to go more deeply into the technique and psychology of love-making, to examine certain sexual taboos, and to glance at erotic myth and folk-lore. But before we deal with these subjects, it will be best to carry our descriptive narrative to its logical conclusion - marriage.

{p. 65} IV


THE institution of marriage in the Trobriands, which is the theme of this and the following chapter, does not present on its surface any of those sensational featurej which would endear it to the "survival" mongcr, the "origin" hunter, and the dealer in "culture contacts" .The natives of our Archipelago order their marriages as simply and sensibly as if they were modern European agnostics, without fuss, or ceremony, or waste of time and substance. The matrimonial knot, once tied, is firm and exclusive, at least in the ideal of tribal law, morality, and custom. As usual, however, ordinary human fraiities play some havoc with the ideal. The Trobriand marriage customs again are sadly lacking in such interesting relaxations as jus primae noctis, wife-lending, wife-exchange, or obligatory prostituition. The personal relations between the two partners, while most illuminating as an example of the matrilineal type of marriage, do not present any of those "savage" features, so lurid, and at the same time so attractive to the antiquarian.

If, however, we dig beneath the surface and lay bare the deeper aspects of this institution, we shall find ourselves face to face with certain facts of considerable importance and of a somewhat unusual type. We shall notice that marriage imposes a permanent economic obligation on the members of the wife's family: for they have to contribute substantially towards the maintenance of the new household. Instead of having to buy his wife, the man receives a dowry often relatively as tempting as that of a modern European or American heiress.

{p. 66} This fact makes marriage among the Trobrianders a pivot in the constitution of tribal power, and in the whole economic system; a pivot, indeed, in almost every institution. Moreover, as far as our ethnological records go, it sets aside their marriage customs as unique among those of savage communities.

Another feature of Trobriand marriage which is of supreme importance to the sociologist is the custom of infant betrothal. This is associated with cross-cousin marriage, and will be seen to have interesting implications and consequences.


The gradual strengthening of the bonds between two partners in a liaison, and the tendency to marry displayed at a certain stage of their mutual life in the bukumatula, have already been described in the foregoing chapter. We have seen how a couple who have lived together for a time and found that they want to marry, as it were advertise this fact by sleeping together regularly, by showing themselves together in public, and by remaining with each other for long perlods at a time.

Now this gradual ripening of the desire for marriage requires a more minute consideration than we have yet given it, especially as it is one of those general, seemingly obvious questions- which do not challenge attention. Yet, if in a closer sociological study we try to place it in its proper perspective, and to bring it into harmony with other features of native life, a real problem at once becomes evident. To us marriage appears as the final expression of love and the desire for union; but in this case we have to ask ourselves why, in a society where marriage adds nothing to sexual freedom, and, indeed, takes

{p. 67} a great deal away from it, where two lovers can possess each other ai long as they like without legal obligation, they still wish to be bound in marriage. And this is a questiun to which the answer is by no means obvious. That there is a clear and spontaneous desire for marriage, and that there is a customary pressure towards it, are two separate facts about which there can be not the sligh t doubt. For the first there are the unambiguous statements of individuals - that they married because they liked the idea of a life-long bond to that particular person - and for the second, the expression of public opinion, that certain people are well suited to each other and should therefore marry. ...

{p. 96} I seldom witnessed quarrels or heard bad language among married people. If a woman is a shrew (uriweri) and the husband not sufficiently dominated to bear the fact meekly, or vice versa, marriage is so easily dissolved that there is hardly ever an

{p. 97} unsuccessful match which survives the first outbreak long. I can remember only two or three households, where relations between husband and wife were outwardly and chronically strained. Two married people in Oburaku frequently indulged in lengthy quarrels, to such a degree that the matter became a serious nuisance to me and disturbed my field-work. As their hut was next door to my tent, I could hear all their domestic differences - it almost made me forget that I was among savages and imagine myself back among civilid people. Morovato, a reliable informant and friend of mine, was ordered about by his wife and badiy henpecked, and I could cite perhaps one more really unfortunate marriage in Sinaketa. That there are fewer matches in which the man, and not the woman, is the aggressor in the quarrel is probably due to the fact that it is a rather more serious loss to a man to break up a good home than it is to a woman (see next chapter). A couple living in Liluta used to have difficulties owing to the man's aggressive and jealous temper. Once, when he scolded and ill-treated his wife very brutally for making kula (ceremonial exchange) of aromatic wreaths of the butia flower with another man, she went away to her own village. I saw an embassy of several men come from the husband to the wife, bringing her reconciliation presents (lula). This was the only case of wife-beating which actually ocurred during my stay in Kiriwina, and it was done in a fit of jealousy.



Jealousy, with without adequate reason, and adultery are the two factors in tribal life which put most strain on the marriage tie. In law, custom and public opinion, sexual appropriation is exclusive. There is no lending of wives, no exchange, no waiving of marital rights in favour

{p. 98} of another man. Any such breach of marital fidelity is as severely condemned in the Trobriands as it is in Christian principle and European law; indeed the most puritanical public opinion among ourselves is not more strict. Needless to say, however, the rules are as often and as easily broken, circumvented, and condoned as in our own society.

In the Trobriands the norms are strict, and though deviations from them are frequent, they are neither open nor, if discovered, unatoned; they are certainly never taken as a matter of course.

For example, in October 191, during one of the chief's long absences overseas, the village of Omarakana was put under the usual taboo. After sunset, no people were supposed to leave their houses, no young men from the neighbourhood were allowed to pass through, the village was deserted save for one or two old men who had been appointed to keep watch. Night after night, when I was out in search of informatlon, I found the streets empty, the houses shut, and no lights to be seen. The village might have been dead. Nor could I get anyone from Omarakana or the neighbourhood to come to my tent. One morning before I was up, a great commotion arose at the other end of the village, and I could hear loud quarrelling and screaming. Startled, I hurried to make inquiries and was able to find one or two of my special friends in the angry, vociferating crowd, who told me what had occurred. Tokwaylabiga, one of the less noble sons of To'uluwa, the chief, who had not accompanied his father, had left Omarakana on a visit. Returning before he was expected, he was told that his wife, Digiyagaya, had slept in his absence with another son of To'uluwa, Mwaydayle, and that they had that very morning gone together to the gardens, the woman taking her water-bottles as a pretext. He ran after them and, according to gossip, found them under compromising conditions, though the real

{p. 99} facts will never be known. Tokwaylabiga, not a very bloodthirsty man, ented his passion and revenged himself on his wife by smashing all her water-bottles. Obvious a philosopher like M. Bergeret, he did not want to cause any serious trouble, and yet was not willing to suppress his injured feelings altogether. The commotion which had attracted my attention was the reception given to husband and wife on their return to the village; for the taboo had been lroken, and all the citizens were out taking sides with one party or the other. The same evening I saw the outraged husband sitting beside his wife in perfect harmony.

Another case r adultery has been previously mentioned in the account of Namwana Guya'u's expulsion. Rightly or wrongly, he suspected his father's nephew and heir, Mitakata, of having committed adultery with his wife, Ibomala. But he also did not push his conjugal vindictiveness beyond bringing the case before the white magistrate, and after he left the capital, he and his wife were to be seen together in his own village apparently on excellent terrns.

There are more serious cases of conjugal infidelity on record, however. In a small village near Omarakana, there lived a man called Dudubile Kautala, who died in 1916, apparently of old age, and whose funeral I attended. I remember his wife, Kayawa, as a terrible old hag, shrivelled like a mummy and smeared all over with grease and soot as a sign of mourning; and I can still feel the dreadful atmosphere pervading her little widow's cage, where I paid her a .visit soon after her bereavement. History tells us, however, that once she was fair and tempting, so that men were driven to suicide for her. Molat rula, chief of a neighbouring village, was among those who succumbed to her

[p. 100} beauty. One day, when the husband had gone to procure fish from a lagoon village, the love-sick chieftain entered Kayawa's house knowing her to be indoors - a gross breach of usage and manners. The story runs that Kayawa lay asleep naked upon her bed, offering a most alluring sight to the intruder, as the natives somewhat crudely put it. He approached her and took advantage of her sleep and helplessness, without, says my version, still gallantly partial to the lady, any connivance on her part. But when the husband returned, panting under a load of fish, he found them together. Both were undressed and there was more besides to compromise them. The adulterer tried to carry it off with effrontery, and said he had only come to fetch some fire. But the evidence was against him, and when the husband seized an axe, the offender tore a big hole in the thatch and escaped. Public opinion was unfavourable and the villagers insulted and ridiculed Molatagula. So he took some of the fish poison which is, as a matter of fact, the resource of those who wish to leave a loop-hole in the suicide forced upon them. He was, in fact, saved by emetics, and lived in all honour and good health for some time afterwards.

A more tragic story is that told in Omarakana about a man called Taytapola, belonging to a generation now passed away. He caught his wife Bulukwau'ukwa in the very act of adultery with Molukwayawa, a man of the same village. The adulterer succeeded in making his escape. The husband pursued him spear in hand, but failing to overtake him, came back to his hut and blew the conch shell. His maternal kinsmen (veyola) rallied round him; and they all repaired to the adversary's end of the village, where they accused the culprit and insulted him in front of his sub-clan. A village fight ensued, the two principals facing each other, each supported by his kinsmen. The offender was speared and died. In such a case,

{p. 101} the attack was probably concentrated on him personally, and the defence of the wrongdoer lacked the impetus of conviction.

Kouta'uya, a chief of the compound village of Sinaketa, went on a kula expedition to Gumasila.lOne of his wives, Bogonela, had a lover, by name Kaukweda Guva'u. Both men are still alive and well known to me. The eldest wife of the absent chief, Pitaviyaka, was suspicious of her fairer companion and wached her. Hearing a noise one night, she went to Bogonela's hut and found the two lovers togethr. A great scandal broke out in the village. The guilty wife was publicly harangued and insulted by the female relatives of her husband: "You like carnal pleasures too much; you are too fond of male charms." Bogonela did as the custom and ideal of personal honour dictated. In her best attire and adorned with all her valuable ornaments, she climbed a tall coconut palm on the central place of the village. Her little daughter, Kaniyaviyaka, stood under the tree and cried. Many people were assembled. She commended her child to the care of the eldest wife and jumped from the tree. She was killed on the spot.

There are many such stories which prove the existence of strong passions and complex sentiments among the natives. Thus a man of Sinaketa named Gumaluya was married to Kutawouya, but fell in love with Ilapakuna, and entered into a regular liaison with her. His wife refused to cook for him or to bring him water. so he had to receive these from a married sister. One evening, at the time when a village is socially astir with families sitting over their supper or gossiping round the fire, Kutawouya made a scene in public, and her scolding rang rigl through the village: "You are too fond of dissipation; you are in a constant

{p. 102} state of sexual excitement; you never tire of copulation"; these were fragments of her speech, retailed to me in a vividly coloured narrative. She goaded herself into a fury, and insulted the man in such shocking words that he also became blinded by passion, and seized a stick and beat her into senselessness. Next day she committed suicide by taking the gall-bladder of the soka fish (a species of globe-fish), a poison which acts with lightning rapidity.

Isakapu, a fine-looking young woman, virtuous and hard-working, was, if we are to believe the testimony of historical gossip, quite faithful to her husband, yet wrongfully suspected by him. One day, returning home after a prolonged absence, he fell into a fury of jealousy; he accused and insulted her in a loud voice, and beat her mercilessly. She wept and lamented, crying: "I am sore all over, my head aches, my back aches, my buttocks ache. I shall climb a tree and jump down." A day or two after the quarrel, she adorned herself, climbed a tree and cried aloud to her husband: "Kabwaynaka, come here. Look at me as I see you. I never committed adultery. You beat and insulted me without reason. Now I shall kill myself." The husband tried to reach her in time to stop her, but when he was half-way up the tree, she threw herself down and thus ended her life.

For some reason Bolobesa, one of the wives of Numakala, the predecessor of the present chief of Omarakana, left her husband for a time and returned to her own village, Yalumugwa. Her maternal uncle, Gumabudi, chief of that village, sent her back to her husband. She refused to go and turned back again half-way, although, I was told, she quite intended to return to her husband ultimately. Her uncle insisted, and insulted her so grossly that she committed suicide.

In each of these cases it was open to the woman simply to leave her husband; or, in the last quoted

{p. 103} incident, to return to him. In each, she was evidently prevented from adopting this easy solution by some strong attachment, or by amour propre and a sense of person honour. Death was preferable to life in the village where she had been dishonoured, preferable too to hfe in any other village. It was unbearable to live with the man, and impossible to live without him, a state of mind which, though it might seem incredible among savages whose sexual life is so easy and carnal, yet can exercise real influence on their married life.

{p. 121} CH1PTER VI


THE nature of matrinonial bonds reveals itself in their breaking in life by divorce, as it does also in their dissolution by death. In the first instance we can observe the strain to which they are submitted; we can see where they are strong enough to resist and where they most easily yield. In the second we can estimate the strength of the social ties and the depth of personal sorrow by their expression in the ceremonial of mourning and burial.


Divorce, called bv the natives vavpaka (vay= marriage; paka, from payki, to refuse), is not infrequent. Whenever husband and wife disagree too acutely, or whenever bitter quarrels or fierce jealousy make them chafe too violently at the bond between them, this can be dissolved - provided the emotional situation do not lead instead to a more tragic issue (see sec. 2 of the previous chapter). We have seen why this solution, or rather dissolution, of the difficulty is a weapon used by the woman rather than the man. A husband very seldom repudiates his wife, though in principle he is entitled to do so. For adultery, he has the right to kill her; but the usual punishment is a thrashing, or perhaps merely remonstrance or a fit of the sulks. If he has any other serious grievance against her, such as bad temper or aziness, the husband, who is little hampered by marriage ties, easily finds consolation outside his household. while he still

{p. 122} benefits by the marriage tribute from his wife's relatives.

There are, on the other hand, several instances on record of a woman leaving her husband because of ill-treatment or infidelity on his part, or else because she had become enamoured of someone else. Thus, to take a case already described, when Bulubwaloga caught her husband, Gilayviyaka, in flagrante delicto with his father's wife, she left him and returned to her family (see ch. v, sec. 5). Again, a woman married to Gomaya, the ne'er-do-well successor to one of the petty chiefs of Sinaketa, left him because, in his own words, she found him an adulterer and also "very lazy". Bolobesa, the wife of the previous chief of Omarakana, left him because she was dissatisfied or jealous, or just tired of him (ch. v, sec. 2). Dabugera, the great-grand-niece of the present chief, left her first husband because she discovered his infidelities and found him, moreover, not to her taste. Her mother, Ibo'una, the chief's grand-niece, took as a second husband one Iluwaka'i, a man of Kavataria and at that time interpreter to the resident magistrate. When he lost his position she abandoned him, not only, we may presume, because he was less good-looking without his uniform, but also because power attracts the fair sex in the Trobriands as elsewhere. These two ladies of rank display an exacting taste in husbands, and indeed the fickleness of those privileged by birth has become proverbial in the Trobriands "She likes the phallus as a woman of guya'u (chief) rank does."

But among people of lower rank, also, there are many instances of a woman leaving her husband simply because she does not like him. During my first visit to the Trobriands, Sayabiya, a fine-looking girl, bubbling over with health, vitality, and temperament, was quite happily married to Tomeda, who was a handsome, good-natured and honest, but stupid man When I returned, she had gone

{p. 123} back to live in her village as an unmarried girl, simply because she was tired of her husband. A very good-looking girl of Oburaku, Bo'usari, had left two husbands, one after the other, and, judging from her intrigues, was looking for a third. Neither from her, nor from the intimate gossip of the village, could I get any good reason for her two desertions, and it was obvious that she simply wanted to be free again.

Sometimes extraneous conditions, more especially quarrels between the husband and the wife's family, lead to divorce. Thus as one result of the quarrel between Namwana Iya'u and Mitakata, Orayayse, Mitakata's wife, had to leave her husband because she belonged to his enemy's family. In a dispute between two communities, marriages are often dissolved for the same reason.

An interesting case of matrimonial misfortune which led to divorce is that of Bagido'u, the heir apparent of Omarakana (pl. 64). His first wife and her son died, and he then married Dakiya, an extremely attractive woman who bore traces of her good looks even at he somewhat mature age at which I first saw her. Dakiya's younger sister Kamwalila was married to Manimuwa, a renowned sorcerer of Wakayse. Iamwalila sickened, and her sister Dakiya went to nurse her. Then between her and her sister's husband evil things began. He made love magic over her. Her mind was influenced, and they committed adultery then and there. When, after her sister s death, Dakiya returned to her husband Baido'u, matters were not as before. He found his food to tough, his water brackish, the coconut drinks bitter, and the betel nut without a bite in it. He would also discover small stones and bits of wood in his lime pot, twigs lying about in the road where he used to pass, pieces of foreign matter in his food. He sickened and grew worse and worse, for all the substances were, of course, vehicles of evil magic, performed by his enemy, the

{p. 124} sorcerer Manimuwa, assisted in this by the faithless wife. In the meantime, his wife trysted with her leman.

Bagido'u scolded and threatened her until one day she ran away and went to live with Manimuwa an altogether irregular procedure. The power of the chiefs being now only a shadow, Bagido'u could not use special force to bring her back; so he took another wife - a broad-faced, sluggish and somewhat cantankerous person by the name of Dagiribu'a. Dakiya remained with her wizard lover, and married him. The unfortunate Bagido'u who obviously suffers from consumption, a disease with which all his family are more or less tainted, attributes his ills to his successful rival's sorcery, even now, as he believes, active against him. This is very galling, for he has the injury of black magic added to the insult of his wife's seduction. When I came back to Omarakana in 1918, I found my friend Bagido'u much worse. By now (1928), this man of extraordinary intelligence, good manners, and astounding memory, the last worthy depository of the family tradition of the Tabalu, is no doubt dead.

The formalities of divorce are as simple as those by which marriage is contracted. The woman leaves her husband's house with all her personal belongings, and moves to her mother's hut, or to that of her nearest maternal kinswoman. There she remains, awaiting the course of events, and in the meantime enjoying full sexual freedom. Her husband, as likely as not, will try to get her back. He will send certain friends with "peace offerings" (kolulu, or lula) for the wife and for those with whom she is staying. Sometimes the gifts are rejected at first, and then the ambassadors are sent again and again. If the woman accepts them, she has to return to her husband, divorce is ended and marriage resumed. If she means business, and is determined not to go back to her wedded life,

{p. 125} the presents are ever accepted; then the husband has to adjust himself as best he may, which means that he begins to look for another girl. The dissolution of marriage entails in no case the restitution of any of the inaugural marriage gifts exchanged, unless, as we shall see, the divorced woman should re-marry.

The girl, if she is still young enough, now resumes her pre-nuptial life and leads the free, untrammelled existence of a nakubukwabuya (unmarried girl), entering upon liasson after liaison, and living in bachelors' houses. One of the liaisons may lengthen out and develop into a new marriage. Then the new husband must present a valuable object (vaygu'a) to his predecessor, in recompense for the one given to the wife's family at the beginning of the first marriage. The new husband must also give another vaygu'a to his wife's relatives, and he then receives from them the first annual harvest gift - vilakuria - and the subsequent yearly tribute in yams. It seemed to me that a divorcce was much more independent of family interference in choosing her new husband than an ordinary unmarried girl. The initial gifts of food (pepe'i, etc.) are not given in the case of such a remarriage. There is, apparently, no social stigma on a girl or a man who has been married and divorced, though as a matter of amour propre no one wishes to own that he or she has been abandoned by the other. It goes without saying that the children, in case of divorce, always follow their mother; and this is no doubt another reason why divorce is less popular with men than with women. During the interim, when their mother is living as a spinster, they remain in the household of her nearest married maternal relative.

{end} i.e., the mother does not live as a "single mother", but her children are cared for by a married relative, until she finds another husband.

But, when the Trobriand man loses his children through divorce, he has no obligation to pay maintenance, for either the ex-wife or the children. The children are not of his clan; they are not officially recognised as "his".

In the Feminist West, a new custom has been established whereby a woman can divorce her husband, simply because she does not like him or wants to be free of him, be awarded custody of the children, and the house, and the ex-husband ordered to pay maintenance for years. It hardly sounds "liberating" or fair, compared to the Trobriands' custom.

Malinowski's Trobriand Islands people are, or were, as sexually "liberated" as anyone can be, without the injustices of either Patriarchy or Matriarchy.

The Feminist case is based on Morgan's erroneous Anthropology, as propounded by Marx and Engels.

Feminism's attempt to replace Sexual Complementarity with Angrogyny: engagement.html.

Sex in the Soviet Union: sex-soviet.html.

Marija Gimbutas' work on Aryan Invasions of Goddess-oriented societies has largely been vindicated: gimbutas.html.

Cyrus Gordon showed that Minoan Crete was Semitic-speaking, prior to the (Aryan) Mycenean invasion: gordon.html.

Camille Paglia warns that Goddess-oriented societies had another side. She wrote in Sexual Personae (Penguin, London 1991):

{p. 8} "The femaleness of fertility religions is always double-edged. The Indian nature-goddess Kali is creator and destroyer, granting boons with one set of arms while cutting throats with the other. She is the lady ringed with skulls. The moral ambivalence of the great mother goddesses has been conveniently forgotten by those American feminists who have resurrected them. We cannot grasp nature's bare blade without shedding our own blood." (p. 8) danielou-paglia.html.


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