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A Society without Fathers or Husbands: The Na of China by Cai Hua

By Cai Hua

The Na of China, farmers within the Himalayan zone, reside with out the establishment of marriage. Na brothers and sisters reside jointly their complete lives, sharing loved ones obligations and elevating the women's young children. as the Na, like any cultures, restrict incest, they perform a procedure of occasionally furtive, occasionally conspicuous evening encounters on the woman's domestic. The woman's partners--she often has greater than one--bear no monetary accountability for her or her childrens, and "fathers," except they resemble their young children, stay unidentifiable.This lucid ethnographic examine exhibits how a society can functionality with out husbands or fathers. It sheds mild on marriage and kinship, in addition to at the place of girls, the mandatory stipulations for the purchase of identification, and the influence of a communist nation on a society that it considers backward.

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Each household plants flax in its garden and sometimes in the fields as well. During the winter months, women spend much of their time spinning and weaving. The loom is of the most simple kind, merely a wooden frame. It takes fifty to sixty warps to make one skirt, thirty to forty to make one pair of pants, and twenty to make a sack. Some households produce a modest sur­ plus that they trade for grain, tea, salt, brown sugar, and such. They generally make their own clothing. Most households also know how to brew beer.

In 1 9 5 6, the commoners were distributed throughout 646 households. Certain commoner households originally belonged to the si'pi stratum, but because of a conflict or an estrangement with the zhifu's family, they had been demoted to the rank of dzeka. For example, there were twelve households that the Na referred to as shaRen, a term whose meaning is unknown. Accord­ ing to my sources, these households were originally descendants of the zhifu's family and were therefore part of the si'pi stratum.

When you make a telephone call from Yongning to the city of Ninglang, it is almost impossible to hear the person you are calling, who, in turn, understands next to noth­ ing of what you are saying. Communication is even more difficult between Yongning and the town of Kunming, the county seat of Yunnan Province. Th e Econ omy Cultivated Plants In 1 960, in the Yongning basin, the Na population was 6,2 2 2 , whereas today i t is estimated to b e approximately 1 2 ,000. 8 However, since the end of the nineteenth century, under the influence of Han immigrants, they have cultivated Dekkan wheat (Echinochloa crus­ aalli ) , corn, wheat, potatoes, sunflowers, soybeans, and other vegetables, such as beans, pumpkins, and milkweed.

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