Sudanese kinship

Main article: Kinship and descent

Sudanese kinship, also referred to as the descriptive system, is a kinship system used to define family. Identified by Lewis 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).[1]

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


The system is named for the peoples of South Sudan, Africa. The Sudanese kinship system also existed in ancient Latin-speaking [2] and Anglo-Saxon [3] cultures. It exists today among present day-Arab and Turkish [4] cultures. It tends to co-occur with patrilineal descent, and it is often said to be common in complex and stratified cultures.[5]


Balkan kinships such as Bulgarian, Serbian, and Bosniak follow this system for different patrilinear and matrilinear uncles but collapse mother's sister and father's sister into the same term of "aunt" and Croatian and Macedonian further collapse the offspring of the uncles into one term.

On the opposite side, Chinese system often makes a distinction between older and younger sibling of the parent (it is impossible to just say e.g. "father's brother" unless with circumlocution, it is either "father's older brother" or "father's younger brother"), as well as of the subject. This applies to both uncles and aunts, both patrilinear and matrilinear.

See also


  2. "Turkish Kinship Terms", University of Manitoba
  3. "Nature of Kinship", University of Palomar
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