Bride service

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Bride service has traditionally been portrayed in the anthropological literature as the service rendered by the bridegroom to a bride's family as a bride price or part of one (see dowry). Bride service and bride wealth models frame anthropological discussions of kinship in many regions of the world.[1]


Patterns of matrilocal post-marital residence, as well as the practice of temporary or prolonged bride service, have been widely reported for indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin.[2] Among these people, bride service is frequently performed in conjunction with an interval of uxorilocal residence. The length of uxorilocal residence and the duration of bride service are contingent upon negotiations between the concerned parties, the outcome of which has been characterized as an enduring commitment or permanent debt.[3][4] The power wielded by those who “give” wives over those who “take” them is also said to be a significant part of the political relationships in societies where bride service obligations are prevalent.[5][6]

Rather than seeing affinity in terms of a "compensation" model whereby individuals are exchanged as objects, Dean’s (1995) research on Amazon bride service among the Urarina[7] demonstrates how differentially situated subjects negotiate the politics of marriage.[8]


An example of bride service occurs in the Hebrew Bible, Genesis 29:16-29, when Jacob labored for Laban for fourteen years to marry Rachel. Originally the deal was seven years, but Laban tricked Jacob by giving him Leah on their wedding day, so Jacob had to work another seven years to obtain the girl he had originally fallen in love with, Rachel.


  1. ^
    • Langenbahn, Hans-Jürgen (1989). "Bridewealth and bride-service among the Ingessana (Rep. of Sudan)". Sociologus. 39 (1): 36–53. JSTOR 43645292.
    • Fricke, Tom; Thornton, Arland; Dahal, Dilli R. (1998). "Netting in Nepal: Social change, the life course, and brideservice in Sangila". Human Ecology. 26 (2): 213–237. PMID 12293840.
    • Hagen, Edward H. (1999). "The functions of postpartum depression". Evolution and Human Behavior. 20: 325–359.
    • Gose, Peter (2000). "The state as a chosen woman: Brideservice and the feeding of tributaries in the Inka empire". American Anthropologist. 102 (1): 84–97. JSTOR 683540.
    • Helliwell, Christine (2001). "Never stand alone": a study of Borneo sociality. Borneo Research Council. ISBN 978-1-9299-0002-2.
    • Jamieson, Mark (June 2000). "It's Shame That Makes Men and Women Enemies: The Politics of Intimacy among the Miskitu of Kakabila". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 6 (2): 311–325. JSTOR 2660898.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Rosengren, Dan (1987). In the eyes of the beholder: Leadership and the social construction of power and dominance among the Matsigenka of the Peruvian Amazon. Göteborg: Göteborgs etnografiska museum. p. 127.
  4. ^ Gow, Peter (December 1989). "The perverse child: Desire in a native Amazonian subsistence economy". Man. 24 (4): 299–314.
  5. ^ Rivière, Peter G (1977). "Some problems in the comparative study of Carib societies". In Basso, Ellen B. Carib-speaking Indians: culture, society, and language. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. p. 41.
  6. ^ Mentore, George P. (September 1987). "Waiwai women: the basis of wealth and power". Man. 22 (3): 511–27.
  7. ^ Dean, Bartholomew (2009). Urarina Society, Cosmology, and History in Peruvian Amazonia. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0-8130-3378-5.
  8. ^ Dean, Bartholomew (March 1995). "Forbidden fruit: infidelity, affinity and bride service among the Urarina of Peruvian Amazonia". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 1 (1): 87–110.

Further reading[edit]

  • Holmberg, Allan (1969). Nomads of the long bow: the Siriono of eastern Bolivia (PDF). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. p. 217.
  • Kracke, Waud (1976). "Uxorilocality in patriliny: Kagwahiv filial separation". Ethos. 4 (3): 295–310. JSTOR 640055.
  • Maybury-Lewis, David (1971). Some principles of social organization among the Central Gê. Verhandlungen des XXXVIII Internationalen Amerikanistenkongresses. 3. p. 384.
  • Maybury-Lewis, David (1967). Akwē-Shavante society. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 97f.
  • Maybury-Lewis, David (1979). "Kinship, ideology, and culture". In Maybury-Lewis, David. Dialectical societies: the Gê and Bororo of Central Brazil. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p. 9. OCLC 253693411.
  • Murphy, Robert F. (1956). "Matrilocality and patrilineality in Mundurucu society". American Anthropologist. 50 (3): 414–34. doi:10.1525/aa.1956.58.3.02a00030.
  • Rivière, Peter G (1984). Individual and society in Guiana. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 40f. ISBN 9780521269971.
  • Renshaw, John (2002). The Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco: identity and economy. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. p. 186ff. ISBN 9780803289918.
  • Siskind, Janet (1977). To Hunt in the Morning. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 79–81. OCLC 918281851.
  • Turner, Terrence S (1979). "The Gê and Bororo societies as dialectical systems: a general model". In Maybury-Lewis, David. Dialectical societies: the Gê and Bororo of Central Brazil. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 159–60. OCLC 253693411.
  • Whitten, Norman E.; Whitten, Dorothea S. (1984). "The structure of kinship and marriage among the Canelos Quichua of East-Central Ecuador". In Kensinger, Kenneth M. Marriage practices in Lowland South America. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. p. 209. ISBN 9780252010149.