Swingers of the Far North: why Chukchi change wives
Every nation living far from civilization has traditions and customs that seem at least strange to uninitiated people. Now, in the era of globalization, the identity of small nations is rapidly eroding, but some centuries-old foundations are still preserved. For example, the Chukchi have a very extravagant system of marriage and family relations.
The Chukchi-the indigenous people of the Far North-live according to the laws of the levirate. This is a marriage custom that does not allow families who have lost a breadwinner to remain without support and means of subsistence. The brother or other close relative of the deceased man is obliged to marry the widow and adopt her children.
Obviously, the action of the levirate explains the popularity of the tradition of group marriage. Married men agree to unite families in order to provide each other with labor and material support. Of course, the poor Chukchi seek to conclude such an alliance with rich friends and neighbors.
Ethnographer Vladimir Bogoraz wrote: "When entering into a group marriage, men sleep without asking, mixed with other people's wives. The exchange of Chukchi wives is usually limited to only one or two friends, however, there are often examples when this kind of close relations are maintained with many."
Children born in families that are in a group marriage relationship are considered siblings. And they are taken care of by all members of a large family. So a group marriage is a real salvation for childless couples: a friend of his will always help a infertile man to have children. And the birth of a baby for the Chukchi is always a very joyful event, regardless of who his biological father is.
Keywords: Peoples | Traditions | Family | Marriage | Customs | Chukchi