(a) Parallel cousins

All the father’s brother’s children and father’s sister’s children, mother’s brother’s children and mother’s sister’s children are included among parallel cousins. Parallel cousins are of two kinds:

1. Cross cousins

These include the children of father’s sisters and the children of mother’s brothers. In Gond, Kharia, Kadar, Oraon, Khas and some other primitive tribes of India, marriages among parallel cousins are allowed. But such marriages are allowed in certain circumstances or on certain conditions.


2. Parallel cousins

They include all the ‘”nisin sisters and brothers as mentioned above and marriages among them are allowed in certain circumstances.

(b) Couvade

While defining couvade, Majumdar and Madan have written that “The practice consists in making husband lead the life of an invalid along with his wife whenever she gives birth to a child, refrains fro> actual life, goes on sick diet and observes certain taboos.” In this way, under the couvade system there is a practice of making a husband leads the same life as the wife leads at the time she gives birth to a child.


Custom of this kind is found among Toda, Khashi and some other primitive people in India. For example, a husband of a Khashi primitive tribe gets the same kind of food which is given to the wife in the position mentioned above.

Scholars have different views about the reasons of couvade custom. Some of the main reasons are as follows:

1. Protection of the child

One chief reason of the couvade usage lies in the fact that the father wants to keep away from the child articles, so far as possible, lest the effect of some magic, which he himself falls a victim to, should be transmitted to child and harm the child.


2. Responsibility of the father towards his children

Another reason of the couvade usage may be this that the father realizes his responsibility towards the child.

3. Protection for the wife

Protection for the wife against evil spirits may be another reason of the couvade usage, because it is believed that by living the kind of life as the wife is leading and by partaking the same kind of food as the wife is taking, the husband will be in a position to attract all such evil powers towards him.


4. Expression of paternal feelings

Couvade usage also helps in ascertaining paternity. It is generally found among the primitive societies where residence is matrilocal. The father of the child is easily recognised through couvade usage.

5. Strengthening of the conjugal ties

Malinowski is of the opinion that couvade helps in cementing the bond of married life and a social mechanism designed to secure paternal affection.


6. Lightening the wife’s discomforts

Couvade lightens the wife’s mental burden and discomforts and she can boldly bear discomforts when she finds her husband’s participation in them with her.

7. Giving a form to the marriage institution

According to Reglan, cauvade helps in the emergence of marriage as an institution.


There is some truth or the other in all the views expressed about the causes of couvade. The couvade practices reveal the equality of status among men and women in the primitive societies.

(c) Mother sib

Persons of the mother’s various generations ae known as mother sibs. Among matrilineal societies the idea of mother sib was prominent. The conception of consanguinity prevailed only after the establishment of a patrilineal society.

Morgan has regarded the idea of mother sib to be more antique than the idea of consanguinity from the point of view of evolution. Siblings were considered to belong to one and the same blood and matrimony among them was prohibited. Manu has written that only that girl should be selected for marriage who happens to be neither mother sib nor consanguineous.

But this prohibition gradually lost its force and marriage began to be arranged between mother sibs.

1. avunclflate

Among the natives of Trobriand, an archipelago, a boy leaves the house of his father at the age of ten years and begins to live in his maternal uncie’s family where he gets education and helps his maternal uncle in his work.

The maternal uncle also looks after his nephew. The same custom is prevalent among the primitive tribes known as Heda living in the north-west of America. According to this custom, the boy accepts the religion, magic and property, etc. of his maternal uncle. This system is called Avunculate.

Among Hopi and Zuni people, the son lives in the house of his father upto the marriage rites. This system of Avunculate is found only among matrilineal societies. But there are some examples of this system among patrilineal societies also. The system of Avunculate is also found among Khashi and Toda matrilineal societies in India.

2. Patriarchal theory

In ancient times it was Aristotle and Plato who supported the patriarchal theory while among its modern proponents Sir Henry Maine is notable. According to this theory, the family in its most ancient form was patriarchal in which the father was the most powerful and the unquestionable authority. In Rome, he was empowered to the extent of sentencing his sons to death. He was called the patriarch.

This theory is defective in as much that it, too, cannot be applied to human societies because in many societies the mother instead of the father was the supreme authoritarian.

3. Matriarchal theory

Hence, on the other hand, some people propounded the matriarchal theory of the origin of the family. Briffault has supported this theory in his book The Mothers. Briffault has written that in ancient societies people were not aware that the offspring has any relation with paternity. And in societies which practice promiscuity there is no knowledge of who the father is. But mother is known definitely anywhere. Consequently, it seems more reasonable to believe that the ancient family was matriarchal.

The patriarchal family originated in these matriarchal families. The importance of the father increased with the progress of civilization and the development of agriculture.

The matriarchal theory was as much one sided as the patriarchal theory because in different human societies one finds families of both kinds. Maclver has written that in the tribal societies existing today, it is the patriarchal family which is to be seen.

Hence Briffault’s theory of the origination of the patriarchal from the matriarchal family does not find universal application.

4. Evolutionary theory

Westermarck has propounded the theory of monogamy in his book History of Human marriage. Among its supporters are Darwin, Zuckerman and Malinowsky. According to Darwin, the family originated in the male’s feeling of ownership and jealousy.

In ancient society the powerful male wanted to posse’s individual ownership of the female and he succeeded in his design by virtue of his physical prowess. Later on, this right of the male was normally accepted in society. Zuckerman and Malinowsky with Westermarck agree to and support the fact that the same custom is found in semi-human societies and also among the apes that are believed to be man’s ancestors.

According to Maclver, the monogamic theory does not offer a complete explanation of the origin of the family. It cannot be accepted that the family originated in this manner everywhere.

5. Evolutionary theory

The American sociologist Morgan has put forward the evolutionary theory of the family. According to him the family has passed through the following five stages:

(i) Consanguine family

In this stage of the family, marriage between blood relations was not forbidden.

(ii) Punatuant family

Evolving further, the next stage saw the imposition of restrictions on incestuous marriage and the family group arrived at the stage of the punaluant family. In this stage brothers of one family marry all the sisters of another family. Even in this stage sex relationships among themselves were not definite.

(iii) Syndasmian family

In this stage one man married one woman but the sex relationships of the women married into the family were not defined and certain.

(iv) Patriarchal family

In this stage man’s ascendancy and dominance in the family had fully blossomed. He could marry many women and have sexual relationships with them.

(v) Monogamous family

This is the present stage of the family. In this, one man can marry only one woman at one time and one woman too, can marry only one man at one time.

Evolution in the institution of family can be believed but what cannot be believed is the same sequence of stages in evolution of the family in all societies. Thus, Morgan’s theory does not appear to be correct in its practical form. Besides, there is no reason for believing the stage of monogamous family to be the ultimate stage of the family. Actually, historical facts do not bear out Morgan’s theory. Morgan’s theory is hypothetical.

6. Multiple factor theory

According to many contemporary sociologists, the sequence of the evolution of family has been different in different societies. In the words of Ralph Linton, ‘Societies have not followed a single consistent line of evolution but a multitude of diverging lines.” In this way modern sociologists accept the multiple factor theory of the origin of the family.

Maclver and Page have written, “Rather a complex of human desires and conscious needs, finding different expressions in different environments everywhere gave birth to some kind of family system.” In this way, many factors conspired in the origin of the family.

According to Maclver, the various factors in the origin of the family can be divided into three factors:

1. Sex

This is a fundamental or innate tendency in man. The family originated in the need for permanent means of its satisfaction and gratification.

2. Reproduction

The family originated in the strong desire for reproduction and the need for a permanent co-operation between man and woman for the nourishment of the offspring.

3. Economic organization

From the economic viewpoint women and children depend upon the male. Consequently, a permanent institution of family was required.

Actually, it is difficult to make definite assertions with regard to the truth of and the factors in the origin of an institution as complex and as human as the family. The subject must be considered from a more comprehensive and more sympathetic viewpoint.