Kinship can be defined anthropologically as the connection by blood, marriage, adoption or generally as a close relationship by nature or character. This connection is emotionally strong that to some extent it appears spiritual.
The Btsisi is a horticultural and partly foraging society that lives in Malaysia. This paper seeks to explore briefly on the kinship system and cultural anthropology of the Btsisi as a horticultural and partly a foraging society, identifying some examples on the kinship system.
The Btsisi is a kinship society, and as earlier stated, the society is mainly a horticultural society and partly a foraging society. They conduct a semi-sedentary way of life, meaning that they only live proximate to their gardens during rainy seasons but advance to the forests when seasons change (Nowak, 2010). During these hot seasons, they hunt in the forests. Being a horticultural society indicates that they produce their own food through cultivating the land. The Btsisi depend on domesticated plants for most of their diet and horticulture therefore, forms the largest portions of their sustenance. At times, they hunt as they cultivate.
The Btsisi marriages are usually arranged by the community’s elders and resemble the arrangement that still exists in my community. In most cases, the marriage turns out to be polygamous in which case a man marries more than one of his blood sisters. This is not common in most of other communities since it is a taboo. It is, however, interesting that a marriage of this statue is common and highly appreciated in the Btsisi society (Nowak, 2004). This is usually due the circumstances that exist in the community. A couple is married, while they spend and share most of their time together and also enjoy each other’s company, since it shows them having special emotional connection. Consequently, whenever the spouses confront each other beyond the level of forgiving each other, they divorce and look for other working relationships. This kind of social life relates to that which is normally witnessed in my community.
The Btsisi share everyday tasks together. The tasks range from hunting and fishing to weaving mats or even cooking. The males adopt skills from their fathers. Some of these skills include wood curving. In the family setting, the Btsisi live in bands that consist of nuclear and at times, extended families (Krisher, 2005). Like in my society, their nuclear family is composed of father, mother and children. In the same way, , their extended families consist of grandparents, uncles, aunts and their children. With cooperation, the extended families turn out to be more beneficial when it comes to accomplishing of duties and day-to-day activities. This scenario is much like ours here in my country. However, our families mainly comprise of nuclear families.
Last but not least, the Btsisi are semi-nomadic, they usually live in a makeshift houses constructed in a proximity to water, especially for fishing. This kind of economic life is quite different from the one we live here in our country. We depend on white-collar jobs for our daily living, to buy ready foods, and only relocate when posted to new working places.
It is quite clear that, from the kinship system outlined, the cultural behavior is a complex function of the kinship system. For instance, the Btsisi community only lives in isolation without interacting with other communities. This system of living has seen the passing of their fathers’ behaviors to the next generations without any change. This has even led to marriages between family members which in my point of view are not genetically ethical. Also, the way the Btsisi carry out their tasks in unison as part of their kinship has facilitated the issue of valuing extended families. Lastly, the Btsisi are partly nomadic, this makes them to shift their homes time and again looking for greener pastures. This has discouraged them from establishing permanent residences. They are also not much concerned about their dressing (Nowak, 1987).
From the state of affairs in my community and society, the issue of kinship is not that strong as that existing among the Btsisi society. Kinship therefore, has very little impact on our living styles and behavior since our society is dynamic and constantly changing.
From the discussion, it is logically valid to appreciate the fact that the Btsisi society has its cultural behaviors influenced by their kinship system (Pearson, 1996). This has blinded the community of other possible ways of life that exist on the planet. However, this community highly appreciates its culture and lifestyle. The community respects and values the family as the basic entity in the society.