The Mantis and His Friends: Bushman Folklore

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[The Bushmen] have no particular marriage form, yet they are monogamous, and man and wife generally remain faithful to each other till death. Sometimes the young couple build their hut near the bridegroom’s father’s, sometimes near the bride’s. They seem to keep the family groups fairly even.2

The young couple continue to live in the !gari-khois oms [daughter’s hut] for some months before taking up residence with the husband’s group. On arrival in his own ||gaus [camp] his mother builds a hut for them.3

[Among the Punan, a small nomadic tribe of Borneo] the members of the band are for the most part the near relatives of the leader, brothers and sons and nephews with their wives and children. Each man has usually one wife. . . . A young man will become the lover of a girl, generally of some other group than his own, and when she becomes pregnant the marriage is celebrated. There is little or no formal arrangement of marriages by the elders on behalf of the young people. . . . husband joins the wife’s community and generally remains a member of it; unlike the Kayans, among whom a husband, though he may live for some years with his wife’s people, eventually brings her to his father’s village.1

[Among the Veddas of Ceylon] a man spends much of his time with his father-in-law, i.e., with his wife’s people, hunting and wandering with them and having perfectly free access to his father-in-law’s hunting ground and fishing pools; at Sitala Wanniya we were told that after a few days spent in a shelter on the territory in the man’s community, to which the bridegroom carried his bride on first receiving her, the young couple should return to the bride’s group. Even at the present day this is the case to a great extent, though among settled communities as at Bandaraduwa there is a tendency for the woman to come to the man’s community and stay there with him.2

[Among the pygmy, forest-dwelling Semang of the Malay Peninsula] it is customary for the son-in-law to remain for some two years after marriage in the neighborhood of his father-in-law and work for him. Only then does he definitely return with his wife to his father’s camp and remain there. But now and then he appears in the camp of his father-in-law to help him.3

[A former headman of a pygmy group reported to Czekanowski, on his African expedition, that] the newly weds sleep the first night in the camp of the bride’s father. A separate hut is given them, from which they steal away to the camp of the groom’s father. [The mother of the bride then visits the camp of her son-in-law, sleeps there one or two nights, and collects arrows, game, and bananas stolen by his people from the neighboring negroes.] On the return of his wife the bride’s father . . . declares his son-in-law is a fine fellow and invites him to join the group of his wife. The son-in-law usually does this, and also inherits from his father-in-law.4

[Among the Ona of Tierra del Fuego] the first evening of the marriage festival . . . the young pair go to their own newly built house. They stay there about ten days, and the guests who gather disperse quickly. The young wife spends many hours in the house of her parents, but her husband appears there very seldom and then only when he is silently performing small services for his father-in-law. Then the young couple move to the family group of the husband.5

2Bleek, W.H. I.n/an/an/an/a, (ed. D. F. Bleek), Introduction.

3 Fourie, L., "Preliminary Notes on Certain Customs of the Hei-||om Bushmen," Jour. of the S. W. African Soc., 1: 60.

1 Hose, C., and W. McDougall, The Pagan Tribes of Borneo, 2: 183–184 (The Macmillan Company. By permission).

2 Seligman, C. G., and B. Z. , The Veddas, 101 (Cambridge University Press. By permission).

3 Schebesta, P., Bei den Urwaldzwergen von Malaya, 92.

4 Czekanowski, J., "Forschungen im Nil-Kongo-Zwischengebiet," Wissenschaftl, Ergeb. der Deutschen Zentral-Afrika-Exped., 6: 486–487.

5 Gusinde, M., Die Feuerland Indianer, 1: 333 (Verlag der Internat. Zeit. Anthropos. By permission).

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Chicago: D. F. Bleek, ed., The Mantis and His Friends: Bushman Folklore in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed June 20, 2024,

MLA: . The Mantis and His Friends: Bushman Folklore, edited by D. F. Bleek, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 20 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: (ed.), The Mantis and His Friends: Bushman Folklore. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 20 June 2024, from