Thursday, December 4, 2008

Marriage & Family (Pesawa Jegum Tagan)

Although polygamous marriage, with the consent of the first wife, is permitted, it is very rare and usually leads to divorce. The population of a village is divided into aristocrats (a-menteri), commoners (a-bumi), and slaves (a-dipen). Ideally marriage should be with a second cousin (patrior matrilateral) within the same rank; but in small, politically independent communities the need for talent has always favored cross-rank marriages. The father of a bride is covertly permitted to choose the bride-wealth and rank he desires for his daughter through any line of descent. A wedding is the most important public occasion on which upward or downward mobility is recognized and validated. Theoretically, all first marriages are arranged by parents, but the wishes of the proposed partners are usually taken into consideration. Parents do not arrange second marriages. For a period after the wedding, uxorilocal residence is ideal, but economic advantage often overrides the ideal. One child, usually the youngest, is expected to remain with the parents. Divorce is by mutual consent, and property acquired since the marriage is divided equally.

There is no more marriage follow the rank has been practice in my village. However, there is still some arrangement marriage by parents.

Domestic Unit
People who cook and cater together are considered to be a family (tagan) ; but a household may consist of several separate catering and cooking units. Six or seven people constitute an average household.

After married sometimes the couple stay at the wife's family house before they leaving for their own life. Sometimes, they just stay with the family until the next generations get married. It is depends on the economy of the family.

Property is divided equally among surviving children and the offspring of any dead children. The former longhouse apartment or the contemporary house, in addition to a share of other property, is usually allotted to the child who remains with the parents. Gardens and orchards are divided as whole units and are not subdivided.

The equally divide is suppose to happen but it is a bad things when the parents dead before they divide their properties. So, this will lead to the quarreling amongst the children and i really hate the situation.

Infants and children are reared by both parents, by siblings, and by other household members. Physical punishment is very rare; it is regarded as a debased practice of the Chinese. Individual independence is highly valued, but not at the expense of custom and respect for elderly people.

When there is visitors visit the house, the children are not allowed to join the conversation. Only adults can join but now, we seems to ignore that and we just entertain any of visitors to our house. But still remain the politeness.

*Mun lian a nyat cerita saji debei kenah alu anik umit mengacau. Lian ko agei umit ko suka munguk dagen apah mak ko, petaah luni cerita jegum keman sepak. Tapi ko debei suka nyunyak ko debei, ako mesti nyabik wak ngak nyinyak mak. Lian a kawin pun mun lian a nyat surong berian suka kawak ko mipak. Bak peta'ah sau rudeng lien. Saie kawak ji adat bak miau singen dibei newarih gak lo anik wak agei muda.


  1. Wow
    Patrior matrilateral was once widely practiced even in the Muslim melanau community,that what's my late mom used to tell me. As a small kid, i do not dare to ask back but over the years i gathered many tales. During my services in the coastal regions of the former Sibu Division i did come across communities that are closely related and formed an extended family.
    Yes ..... Cairina moschata is the scientific name for itik serati.

  2. As i post and search online about Melanau culture and traditions i learn about it too. So many things that i don't know even though i am born as a Melanau and live in village. So, hopefully as i search more i will find more interesting info about Melanau.