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A New Look at the Nayar Taravad

Melinda A. Moore
Man
New Series, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Sep., 1985), pp. 523-541
DOI: 10.2307/2802444
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2802444
Page Count: 19
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A New Look at the Nayar Taravad
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Abstract

Defined in indigenous terms, the Nayar taravad is a ritually significant house-and-land unit rather than a matrilineage. Its members are related to it, and it articulates with the rest of society, by means of ritual, territorial relations rather than relations of descent or kinship. Describing the taravad by means of descent theory does little to elucidate crucial processes such as segmentation, the decline of matrilineality in Kerala, and the problematic status of marriage, whereas describing it as a house-and-land unit does. Alongside this locality-based organisation of relationships is a genealogical one conceived not in terms of descent groups but it terms of a Hindu ideology of shared biological substance. The presence of this alternative principle explains the variance of which the system was capable, and its flexibility in the face of change.

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