Kinship Terminology and Term of Reference among Muthuvan Tribal Community in South India

Author: Jamsheer Thayyil (Kerala Institute for Research Training and Development Studies of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, India)
Speaker: Jamsheer Thayyil
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


Kinship is one of these more complex systems of culture, all human groups have a its own kinship most kinship terminologies have a large number of genealogical relationships can be denoted with the fifteen to fifty terms that make up human kinship terminologies, mother, Father, son, daughter, brother, sister etc. Muthuvan Tribal community has kinship terminologies and its term of reference something different from other community’s.In southern zone there is the system of caste endogamy and clan exogamy existed. Muthuvan Tribal community is clan exogamous following system.

Traditional origin of muthuvans was the citizens of the kingdom of Madura. They left madura during the epic war between kannaki and the king of Madura. The muthuvans ran away to the forest of Kerala. They also rescued their king pandyan from the great calamity and took him along with them. Since they carried the loads on their back (muthuku), they were known as muthuvan.

The data of the present study was collected from the idukki district of Kerala. The state of Kerala situated in the southern tip of the Indian sub-continent.Kerala is divided into fourteen districts, idukki is one of the district among them .As most part of this hilly regions. mainly seven Tribal community are found in the idukki district . The Muthuvaan community living on the sides of hills, forest area, and nearby the forest boundaries.

The Muthuvan community is divided into six exogamous, matrilineal clans. The children of a man belong to their mother’s clan .A man’s property and debts are inherited by the nephew. The male children are named after their maternal grandfather and female children after their maternal grandmother or aunt. The Muthuvan Tribal community it’s peculiar feature which are quite different from other Tribal community in India. Preferential marriage system like a man marries mother’s brother’s daughter are particularly prevalent in the community. The main thrust of such a system of preferential marriages lies in maintaining unity and solidarity of the ‘clan’ and upholding of the principle of return of daughter in the same generation. Maternal uncle and niece marriages and cross cousin marriages result in double relationship among them.

For example: mother brother’s wife’s the term of reference Appappi” continuing after the marriage of their child. Such systems have double relationship within family but in the same manner term of reference doesn’t change.

Keyword: Muthuvan