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Comparison Of Characteristics Of Cultures Referencing The Human Relations Area File:

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Comparison of Characteristics of Cultures Referencing the Human Relations Area File:

Marriage, Tradition and Familial Structure Among the T’u-Jen and Korea (Pre-Modern)


The cultures this paper will endeavor to compare are that of the Mongours, specifically T’u-jen, as stated in the HRAF and the traditional Korean culture. The T’u-jen are Mongols inhabiting the northwestern parts of China, specifically Kansu, descendent of a group who served the Ming Dynasty as borderland protectors. They remained settled there and their given name is Chinese in origin. Their culture is primarily based on the Mongolian tradition but they have inter-married with some of the local groups and have likely acquired new habits. The Koreans are all peoples originated from the country of Korea, without discrimination for region. This paper will specifically be discussing the characteristics of marriage within each culture. These characteristics include such topics as proposal, choice, ceremony, culture specific tradition, and family structure among others.

T’u-jen Marriages

The T’u-jen have a long and specific tradition of marriage within their culture. There are specific expectations and actions that should be taken for many given scenarios. The common form of marriage among the T’u-jen is that of purchasing the wife by the husband’s family. There are three separate cases for which this occurs and each will be discussed in detail.

The Young Girl

The first marriage case for a purchasing a wife is the purchase of a young girl as the official wife. If a family has the means then naturally they make this choice primarily. This is almost necessary due to the fact that most of this culture marry young, therefore the union be contracted among young people. The only marriage specific rule among the T’u-jen is that the husband and wife not bear the same name. It is claimed that formerly any person from the same clan was considered to have the same name, but the rule generally means those from the same immediate family. A commonly sought after union among the T’u-jen is that of the offspring of two sisters. Two sisters who marry into two different families bear two different names. The children of these sisters are free to intermarry. This is also a common practice among the Chinese, it is uncertain though whether one influenced the other. Another common practice is when a family offers its daughter to another families son, that family in turn offers their daughter to the previous families son. The T’u-jen show a strong tendency to marry within close circles of family including cousins, brothers, sister, and children of aunts and uncles. This is descendent of their nomadic days when small clans had to join together to keep from being swallowed up by larger more powerful groups. The T’u-jen are also concerned with generational specifics when deciding marriage. A niece will never be given to an uncle, they proposed are expected to be from the same generation. Marriage to Chinese girls is looked down upon, because it is considered a cause of the denationalization of their people, however, marriage with Tibetans is quite acceptable and even sought after (by the Tibetans).

The Widow

In theory the practice of marrying a widow is supposed to be quite the opposite of the young bride. When a widow marries it is said that she has “found a man” or something denoting that she herself chose her husband. In practice however, her right to choose will be respected, so long as her owners see no disadvantage in her choice. She may even be married off by in-force her in-laws or abducted by an unknown suitor. According to custom, after the death of the husband the widow must stay 49 days with the parents-in-law. These days are called the days of mourning. Once these days have passed, it is her right to go back to her own family. It should be noted though, that she is still considered to be under the “ownership” of the parents-in-law. A bride will usually move quickly to find a new partner for fear that the in-laws have moved to sell her right away. Suitors will send go-betweens or even request an interview themselves to see the bride. The traditional formalities must take place and once the groom has received acceptance from one side, he must then go before the in-laws with whom the real power lies. If they come to an agreement a certain monies will be paid, usually based upon the signatures of the family. No money will be paid until the bride has crossed the husbands threshold for fear of the many difficulties, such as abductions, that can occur. This is different from the young bride, whose parents must be paid all monies before the marriage can occur. All deals, payments and contacts are made with go-betweens and many times are done in secrecy. The customary proceeding for the marriage of a widow are simple in comparison to a young girl, involving few individuals and whose main preoccupation is to move her to her new domicile without hindrance.

Polygamy Among the T’u-jen

The final and more minor condition of marriage among the T’u-jen is that of polygamy. It is a rare case among these people due to the large economic factor that must be taken into account. It is more of a question regarding the importance and necessity of male descendants. Polygamists among the T’u-jen fall under four specific categories. The first case is that of the sterile couple. Because of the great importance of male heirs, which takes precedence over all other concerns, the generally poor T’u-jen will take the prospect of a second wife as a serious and respectable practice. Without such a serious question as sterility, the practice of polygamy due to stray impulse, lower instinctual desire or wealth are not enough to allow for such a complex situation. A second group is that of the widow or levirate. When a wife is still young and has born children, she does not wish to leave them or to take them in to an uncertain or unhappy condition. Therefore, many times the in-laws will suggest a brother, if there is no unmarried brother then the widow may choose to become the second wife. Many will take this alternative in order to care for their children. Thirdly are those lacking in labor. Women among the T’u-jen are given much of the work, not only in the household but among the livestock and fields as well. When a household is somewhat



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