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Sudanese kinship

Sudanese kinship (also referred to as the Descriptive system) is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Louis Henry Morgan in his 1871 work Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, the Sudanese system is one of the six major kinship systems (Eskimo, Hawaiian, Iroquois, Crow, Omaha, and Sudanese).

The Sudanese kinship system is the most complicated of all kinship systems. It maintains a separate designation for almost every one of Ego's kin based on their distance from Ego, their relation, and their gender. Ego's Father is distinguished from his brother and from Ego's mother's brother. Ego's Mother is similarly distinguished from her sister and from Ego's father's sister. For cousins alone there are eight possible terms.


The system is named for the peoples of southern Sudan in Africa. The Sudanese kinship system was used in ancient Latin and Old English societies as well as present day Turkish society. It also has replaced Iroquois kinship as the system used by rural Chinese peoples.

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Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45