Saturday, September 12, 2009

Clan and Family of LISU-1

Kinship is based on a system of patrillineal clans. Six of them are traditionally Lisu, and have Lisu names; Hone(Bya), Wood(suh), Fish(Ngwa), Bear(Wu), Buckwheat(Gwa), and Hemp(Dzuh). The honey clan is the largest, and has three segments. There are a further nine principal clans which have evolved from inter-marriage with Yunnanes; Li, Yang, Wang, Tao, Wu, Ts'ao, Ho, Cu, and Cang. Of these the Yang and Li are the largest.
There are no formal heads or chiefs, but the oldest mal member of a clan members of that village. He may be called upon to arbitrate disputes within the clan to keep the matter out of the headman's jurisdiction. At festivals, such as the New Year, this respected elder is accordid special honor by those in his clan.
On the last night of the old year a Lisu family often gathers around the fire, and the oldest member of the household tells the history of the family and clan, relating names and incidents which go back many generations. There tends to be rivalry and conflict among clans. Members of the Honey clan, for example, believe that they are far superior to the Fish clan members, and vice versa. If there is a lawsuit, clan members of both parties side with their kin and try to make sure he wins - guilty or not. If tensions become too severe, on or more families may move out of the village, bringing about a measure of stability.
Certain clans in Thailand tend to be ostracized by the others. Rumours are spread, for example, that many of the women in the Hemp and Buckwheat clans are possessed by weretigers. There are cases where a village is made up entirely of members of one of these ostracized clans. It has even reached the point where it is difficult for their girls to find Lisu husvands - often they end up marring Yunannese men.
On some occasions there have been feuds between clans. In on year six people were killed in sucj a feud in the Doi Chang and Tak areas. If such feuding foes on undeterred, villages may disintegrate; but as long as they respect the priest and continue to unite in their worship of the village guardian spirit, they can usually function as a community.

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