Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: 101
Instructor: June Maul
August 9, 2011
The Nayar of India are ethnographic and folk-culture society. They are a complex and interesting large and power cast society that live in extended matrilineal family groups. Hinduism is the main religion of these people and that combined with their social and economic structure make for an interesting combination of kinship, gender relations, beliefs, and values. In this paper I will discuss the fascinating aspects of this culture focusing on their kinship, gender relations, and their beliefs and values.
Perhaps the best known of India's unusual family types is the traditional Nayar taravad , or great house. The Nayars are a cluster of castes in Kerala. High-ranking and prosperous, the Nayars maintained matrilineal households in which sisters and brothers and their children are the permanent residents. Here, a woman’s children were all legitimate members of the taravad. Women worked in the garden on the great house property, which provided most of the food for the family. Also, in this type of family structure your earnings were not just yours. A large portion of individual earnings were put into the taravad. This mean everyone helped take care of each other and the household. Women were considered to be educated and powerful members of the family and society in the Nayar’s culture. Property, matrilineal inherited, was managed by the eldest brother of the senior woman. This system, the focus of much anthropological interest, has been disintegrating in the twentieth century and in the 1990s probably fewer than 5 percent of the Nayars live in matrilineal taravads. This is due largely to change in government and new laws mostly set when Britain was in control of India.
Traditionally the Nayar have very exciting and unusual relations among genders. In a taravad the Nayar women would be married at an...