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Sordid Pre-History of Monogamy (part 3)

"In the south of Mayalam a married woman is permitted to have twelve other husbands as lovers besides the man to whom she is legally bound, but she must play the game fairly and not exceed the number allowed.  With the Esquimaux or Inuits the primitive

communal marriage still obtains in spite of their being monogamists in appearance.  As M. Reclus remarks, adultery is a daily escapade with the women as well as the men.  The "members of the Marital Association keep running accounts and open large credits" with each other.  When the wind blows from the south, every woman is out on the rampage after other men, but each wife must lawfully couple with the man to whom the husband would willingly have lent her, and who will lend his own wife in return.  They hold that all were made for all.  The sin against nature is for the lawful wife to seek connubium with a bachelor, who can make no return in kind to the husband.  (Re-

clus, Primitive Folk, Eng. tr. p. 32.  Ross, Second Voyage.)  The custom is African.  Sir

Harry Johnston mentions a curious mode of weighing out even-handed justice in cases of adultery.  Amongst the A-Nyanja if a man is caught in the act he is compelled to get another man as substitute to cohabit with his wife before he can return to her; he must also pay his substitute for this service four yards of cloth, or make an equivalent pres-

ent, otherwise the substitute can claim and carry off the wife as his own property.

(Brit. Cent. Africa, p. 415)

it was not men alone who resisted the change.  According to Pethernick, the mother of the bride, among the Hassanyeh  Arabs, protests against 'binding her daughter' to a due observance of that chastity which matrimony is expected to command for more than two days in the week at a time.  (Pethernick, J., Egypt, the Soudan, and Central Africa).

Various ways of limiting the primitive promiscuity, and at the same time of securing

elasticity in the marriage tie, might be cited.  For example, the Spaniards found a curious custom in Lancerota.  A woman there had several husbands, but "a husband was

considered as such only during a lunar revolution."  (Spencer,  Data, 298.)  Thus one 

woman was limited to one man for a month, and the marital relations were changeable with the moon...

{T}he state of promiscuous intercourse was repeated in the religious mysteries, inclu-

ding those of the Christian Church {Carnival?}.  According to a Latin myth, the saturnalia of ancient Rome was held in commemoration of the sexual promiscuity that once obtained.  Such customs constituted the record of prehistoric if not primitive man.  That is why their performance is so permanent and so universal."

                "Ancient Egypt: Light of the World"  Gerald Massey

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