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October 15, 2007

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Unfortunately, it's a registration required article. Care to expand on the teaser by paraphrasing briefly, Namit?

Sujatha: I thought this was one of the free articles at NYRB but no. At the risk of copyright violation, I've expanded the selection a bit. I also found a few more links/reviews that will hopefully provide a better picture.

The traditions of the Na bear comparison with the matrilineal society of the Nairs of Kerala until the early-to-mid 20th century or so. The main difference is that the issue of 'fatherhood' is not ignored, so the father-daughter incest twist does not occur. In other respects, they seem very similar. Sisters and brothers living together in the same unit, caring for the sisters children, who may have multiple fathers.

From my recent reading of one of the earliest Malayalam novels, Indulekha which provides fascinating insight into late 19th century Kerala society, the Nairs had a system by which the ladies paired up in a form of 'temporary marriage' or sambandam that could last for years or weeks and could be broken off at will by either party. It was a more structured approach than the Na traditions, but the basic family unit was similar. There's a curious similarity in the names of the groups and possibly some linguistic fodder to be chewed upon as well - Na and Nair.

I love it! Marriage has had it's run here in the west and it's time it faded out of existance all-together. The divorce rate is well over 50% of the population. As an institution it's become a joke. These Na people of China and Tibet as well as the Nairs of Kerala have it figured out and both of their cultures are more than 3000 years old. It's worked for them this long and it can work for us too. A matrilineal patriarch is what both of these cultures are .... the best of both worlds!

As a westerner living in the Bible Belt of the U.S. of A. I completely concur with what Danny said. The marriage culture has proven itself to be a failure. Good riddance to bad rubbish! It's time we learned to have REAL families like the Na people of China currently have.

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