The Dynamics of Clanship among the Tallensi, Being the First Part of An Analysis of the Social Structure of a Trans-Volta Tribe

By Meyer Fortes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE STRUCTURAL RELATIONS OF THE TALIS

A General Point

A NUMERICAL estimate of the Namoos in Taleland cannot be made from the published census figures. In the Tongo district alone they would include, on a rough reckoning, over a third of the population; the rest are the Talis.

( The Talis, as we have seen, are distinguished by name and by myths of origin from the Namoos. Close neighbours though they are, Talis and Namoos are distinctly segregated from one another by locality, and this is associated with clear-cut structural cleavages. It is necessary, however, to emphasize that Talis and Namoos are also inseparably bound to one another by ceremonial and politico-ritual ties. In addition, all Talis and all Namoos are connected with one another as individuals by an elaborate network of cognatic and affinal ties. In the present chapter we are concerned with the constituted social relations of the Talis amongst themselves, treated in isolation from the background of their social relations with the Namoos, but this background must be borne in mind.


The Clan Structure of Zubiuy

The clans and lineages of the Talis form corporate units of the same kind as those of the Namoos. They are connected with one another by a network of constituted ties of the same type as those that link Namoo clans and lineages in a chain system, but more elaborately distributed and articulated. Again, the paradigm applies generally, but the perspective of each clan and lineage is peculiar to itself. To keep the parallel with the Namoos we shall take as our starting-point the group of Talis most intimately associated with Tongo, the people of Zubiuη (Zubiuηdεm). i

As we have previously mentioned, the people of Zubiuη live in such close contiguity with the Tongo Namoos that anyone ignorant of the structure of the community would be unable to draw a line between the homesteads of one group and those of the other. Investigation shows that Zubiuη homesteads form an irregular but continuous aggregate, quite distinct, spatially, from Tongo. The nearest Tongo neighbours of Zubiuη are the accessory Tongo lineage of

yidem. Consistently with the basic principles of Tale clanship, yidem have an intercalary status between Tongo and Zubiuη. The legend which relates that the ancestor of yidem was a sororal nephew (ahəη) of Zubiuη is the rationalization of their intercalary role. But though they mediate between Tongo and Zubiuη in political matters, for example, they have no ties of clanship with the latter, as we have previously seen.

Zubiuq consists of three maximal lineages, residentially distributed in a way that exactly parallels their structural relations. The homesteads of

____________________
i
Total male members, at home and abroad, about 250.

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