Brief notes on Polygyny, its types and causes



Polygyny is a form of marriage in which one man marries more than one woman at time. In other words, under this system one man can marry more than one woman at a girl time. This type of marriage is popular in Muslim community. Among Eskimos and the past tribes of Africa the polygyny is still practiced. Particularly the medieval feudal social sys gave sanction to polygyny.

Feudal social system gave sanction to polygyny. Even where polygyny is /was practice there seem to be some foundations of monogamy in the acceptance of a principal wife, other being subordinates. For instance, in India during monarchy the kings and feudal lo were having many wives. Out of their wives the principal wife was called as 'pata rani' 'Maharani', 'Bahuma' etc.

Polygyny is divided into two type’s namely corporal polygyny and non-sororal polygyny.

(i) Sororal Polygyny:

It is a type of marriage in which more than one sister become the wives of a sin husband. In other words, when several sisters simultaneously become the wives of a sin man the type of marriage is called sororal polygyny. It is often called 'sororate' as the word 'soror' stands for sister. But the concept sororate means the marriage practice in why a man marries the sisters of his wife.

(ii) Non-sororal Polygyny:

It is a type of marriage in which the wives are not related sisters to each other.

Causes of Polygyny:

Sociologists and social anthropologists have made several efforts to find out the cause of polygyny. Some of the causes noticed by them are as follows:-

i) More women than men:

Polygyny is practiced because of the imbalance in the sex-ratio, i, e. polygyny am inevitable in society where the female population is more than the male. This type of marriage is seeing among the plains Indians and Eskimos due to this reason.

ii) Enforced celibacy:

In some cultural groups certain custom prevails which prohibits man to have sex relation with his wife. Particularly during menstrual, Pregnancy and breast feeding of the child, the husband is not allowed to keep any sort of sex relations. This form of enforced celibacy creates the need for the second marriage.

iii) Quick aging of the female:

Due to hard physical labour or old age female loses her glamour and physical charm. Again aging is factor is case of females. So the man who is fascinated by the youthful charm prefers to have more wives.

iv) Taste for verity:

A long companion with a woman causes dullness in sexual instincts. The man loses his sexual interest with the woman and desire to have a fresh sexual taste. This desire for variety sexual taste gives rise to polygyny.

v) Barrenness of the wife:

Giving birth a child or children is one of the objectives of marriage. When a man sees that his wife is not in a position to give birth any child due to her barrenness then he desires for a second wife and so on.

vi) More children:

In preliterate societies numbers of able bodied members were required for the purpose of agriculture, warfare and the other reasons. Hence, polygyny was considered as a source to increase, the number of children for the family. African tribes like 'Guni' and 'Hihi' follow polygyny for this reason.

vii) Desire for prestige:

There are some primitive and tribal societies where single marriage is considered as a sign of poverty. Similarly, in other society’s number of women a man posse was the index of social prestige. So the man desires to have more wives for more social prestige.

Some tribes like 'Longos' and the 'Thongas' of Africa practice polygyny for economic reasons. In Himalayan ranges man requires to marry more women to get help in the agriculture work and to protect their property. Hence, polygyny is practiced to get cheap and reliable labour in the form of wives.

Viii) Custom:

Certain prevailing customs like levirate and hyper gamy give rise to polygyny example, the custom of levirate forces the widow of elder brother to marry the younger brother even if he is married.