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The joking relationships (fizivàna) between the uterine uncle and nephew often go hand in hand with those of the crossed cousins. These latter relations are mainly recognized in certain Malagasy ethnic groups.
In Madagascar, as in any country where parental links are very important, there is a clear distinction between first cousins. With some, it is permissible to marry between them, with others it is strictly prohibited. The first are the children of a brother and a sister: they are cross-cousins ​​(mpianadahy or anadahy, mpianabavy or anabavy). On the other hand, the children of two brothers or two sisters are parallel cousins ​​(mpirahalahy or rahalahy, mpirahavavy or rahavavy).
However, Malagasy law is not uniform with regard to the prohibitions of union between cousins-cousins.
In general, “someone’s cross-cousin is his (right) wife,” says the proverb, even though this marriage is not obligatory. However, among the Tsimihety and even the Sakalava, cross-cousin marriage is prohibited if tolerated by other ethnic groups. For the Sakalava, the joking relationship foreseen in case of alliance binds only brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. For the Tsimihety, this kinship connects the crossed cousins ​​between them and forbids them any union.
The fact is that the woman in both groups can not marry within her clan to prevent a possible separation from totally blurring families. Thus, her husband must belong to a different clan: the woman leaves her group of origin to go and live with her husband and this separation with her clan is definitive. Separation consecrated by the sacrifice of an ox offered by the husband to his in-laws according to the rite of the “attachment marriage” indissociable (“fanambadiana voafehy”).
On the death of her husband, the wife is taken in by her in-laws and the brother-in-law “inherits” her (“vady lova”) and has to cohabit with her. The widow may nevertheless choose the “brother-in-law” – if there are many – with whom she would continue the conjugal life. In any case, she has no rights over her children who belong to the family of her deceased husband, and it is from the latter that they inherit the ties of the “ziva” or “lohateny” (alliance or kinship to Joke, which implies the right of insult).
It is perhaps to mitigate the effects of this separation with the maternal family that children remain in closer relationship with their first cousins ​​by a special “ziva” bond. This may also explain why parallel cousins ​​are not linked by a “ziva” link and why they do not come out of their original clan.
The Tsimihety make a perfect distinction between the children born in the clan of origin, the “zanak’anadahy” (children of brothers), and those born in foreign clans,
“Zanak’anabavy” (sister’s children) and cross-cousins ​​can not marry each other. This prohibition is apparently unique to the tsimihety and sakalava populations.
Among the Merina, the Betsileo, the Sihanaka, who all apply Merina laws and customs, as well as the Antandroy …, the prohibition of marriage between first cousins ​​is restricted to the children of two sisters. Moreover, they added to this category the children of two first cousins ​​descended from two sisters.
“Fady or tsy heny, that is to say, incapable of contracting marriage without committing incest, shall be deemed to be fady or tsy heny, all persons born from the same mother (mpiray tampo), all those born from two sisters to the first Or second degree “(Julien).
Thébault also says: “Malagasy custom considers children born of two sisters not as cousins, but as real brothers and sisters, and prohibits as incestuous the marriage between these persons and a natural consequence, looks in their turn The children of these two persons as true cousins. This custom is, however, limited only to the case of the descendants of two sisters.
Among the Betsimisaraka and Merina of Vonizongo, the prohibition extends even to children born of two brothers.
According to ethnologists, these differences in customs are logical since the cousins
In most cases, they have the right to marry (“uncle’s daughter”), while the union between parallel cousins ​​is considered incestuous (“zaza tsy omby kibo”): cousins-cousins To be born of the same mother (since their mothers are sisters) or of the same father (since their fathers are brothers). Betsimisaraka and Merina du Vonizongo comply with this rule quite strictly.