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Tsou

1. Kinship Structure

Traditionally, the Tsou (Cou) people formed a sub-clan (lineage group) with several patrilineal families. Each sub-clan shares the same family name, the farms, the same fishing area, co-host the millet ceremonies, and shares the same family house in the hosa (grand community). In the family house, there are the sub-clan’s symbolic holy objects: ritual millet and animal bone racks. A sub-clan is the most basic kinship unit in Tsou society. Principal private property includes the houses (native family, split family, working house, warehouse, animal shelters) that are shared within a sub-clan, and the farmland and fishing grounds are also shared within a sub-clan. Sub-clans of close blood relationships will form a clan, with the first branch founder’s family as the native family, including the family name. Members within the same clan share the same farmland and hunting grounds before distributing to sub-clans. A clan is a marriage unit, i.e. intermarriage is not allowed in the same clan.

2. Family and Marriage

The Tsou society is patrilineal, and all children live with the father and the father’s family. On marriage, patrilocality is practiced, with the parents deciding on the marriage. Marriage by service is popular in traditional Tsou culture. In this system, the groom will need to help the bride’s family for some time after marriage. The length of service varies from one week to years. Today, marriage by service has extinguished.

3. Hosa (Grand Community) and Denohiu (Minor Community)

The hosa (grand community) identification is important to the tsou people. With one grand community as the center, a “Hosa (Grand Community)” is formed with several branches— denohiu (minor communities). The grand community is the earliest settlement formed. Due to farming, minor communities are formed around a grand community. However, the grand community is always the political, religious, and economic center. The Kuba (Male Assembly Hall) administered by the community chief is the political center of a grand community.

4. Kuba (Male Assembly Hall)

The Kuba (Male Assembly Hall) is the most important symbol of a grand community. It is the center for religious, political, and economic activities within the community. Major functions of the assembly hall include male education, community meetings, war assemblies, ritual training, hunting, and social gatherings. It is the venue for heritage, education, negotiation, and assembly, and a place for handling public affairs. Therefore, apart from being a community symbol, it hosts the war ritual held in the middle of the year and becomes an important cultural symbol of the Tsou people.