Trobriand Patrilineal Ties

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The Trobrianders' way of life seems to revolve around the mother significantly more than almost every other culture. For example, children are claimed as part of the matrilineage meaning that they are claimed on their mother's side of the family. To someone who is not familiar with their culture, it may seem as though the fathers of the children have no rights or obligations to care for and raise their children. Even some people who have studied the Trobrianders have failed to see the importance that fathers play in a child's life.

Even before a child is born, the father has important roles and duties to fulfill in his child's life. The first thing that the father helps to do is to develop the fetus and also nurture the fetus by way of intercourse. The Trobrianders believe that through frequent intercourse, the baby will help develop and nurture it. Another thing that the father does to help his child even before it is born is to pass on his matrilineal belongings. For a child, this can mean access to farming land, access to family spells, and even a family's wealth or status can be passed on. This is very important to the Trobrianders as they are a very political group of people.

When a Trobriand child is born, it is a very private event. The baby is born in the wife's mother's hut with only the wife's mother and her mother's sister in attendance. After the child is born, the mother and baby must stay secluded for two months. It would seem from the information given that the father is being shut out from the child's life right from the beginning. However, this is not true at all. The father still has great responsibility for the baby and the mother even when they are living with the mother's side of the family. For example, the father is still required to bring his wife and newborn baby food while they are away from home. Furthermore, the father begins feeding the baby things such as yams and fish before the baby has stopped nursing.

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