Eh04 Vedda (SCCS 080)

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SCCS 080: Vedda - Pgraph This genealogy has 55-55+1 cycles, thus only one relinking for blood marriage, thus sidedness is neutral or absent.

Book order

002-9277352-6217003 1 item will be shipped to Douglas R. White by SecondStoryBooks. Estimated delivery: Dec. 2, 2011 - Dec. 19, 2011. Internet Sales Inquiries: Call Jonathan at (301) 770-0477 ext. 14 NEVER DELIVERED! I BOUGHT IT FROM ADEGI GRAPHICS, a 2007 Reprint. elibron map - Veddas map Ceylon


Seligmann, Charles G. and Brenda Seligmann (1911) The Veddas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Editable Web Page searchable text - most legible e-copy

Bailey, J. 1863. An Account of the Wild Tribes of the Veddahs of Ceylon. pdf: Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London N.S., 2: 278-320. - eBook.

SCCS# 80 HRAF#AX 5 EA# 145 Eh4 Vedda. P:Forest group.

                  G: 7o30'N, 81oE. T:1860. 
      1. Principal Authority(ies) 
2111110   01| Seligmann, C. G., and B. Z. Seligmann. 1911. The Veddas. 
          Cambridge. (Field work done in 1907-08.  Since the authors 
          summarized the information from earlier ethnographers, it will be 
          necessary only to consult this work and Bailey, to discount cultural 
          changes since 1860). 
      2. Other Dependable Primary Sources 
1223220   02| Bailey, J. 1863. An Account of the Wild Tribes of the Veddahs of 
          Ceylon. Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London N.S., 2: 
          278-320. (Observations of a colonial official in the late 1850's). 

Seligmann, Charles G. and Brenda Seligmann (1911) The Veddas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Editable Web Page searchable text E.g.: alsl

"Though Veddas, and especially Vedda women, are extremely shy there is no belief in the evil eye, or in the danger of being 'overlooked.'

Genealogies, 59-61

Author: Seligman, C. G. (Charles Gabriel), 1873-1940; Seligman, Brenda Z Subject: Veddahs Publisher: Cambridge University Press Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT EBOOK: pdf of the book Seligmann

  • Atlas Eh4:145
  • Sccs: 1860 prior to acculturation
  • Binford: Forest #10, Gath 65% Hunt 30% Fish 5%
Grp 1 2 3: 14 29 29


  • Edmund Leach. Did the wild Veddas have matrilineal clans? Occasional paper (Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland) 4
  • Brow, J. 1978. Vedda Villages of Anuradhapura: the historical anthropology of a

Other groups

contemporary east coast Veddas - not focal group



Sitala Wanniya/Godatalawa groups genealogy-UxoriSided
Sitala Wanniya/Godatalawa groups genealogy-Viri-sided
Sitala Wanniya/Godatalawa groups village genealogy

Significance test for sidednesss

Sidedness significant at p-value = 0.03125. The way to calculate significance is quite simple for a connected or biconnected pgraph, and it yields the same result if you take the bicomponent of a connected pgraph. If sidedness is perfect

calculate x = #edges - #nodes + 1

then y = 2^x i.e., 2 raised to the power x. In the Sitala Vedda case x was 5, y was 2^5 = 32.

then pvalue = 1/2^x = 1/y

in this case pvalue = 1/32 = .03125

If sidedness is perfect, or not, use the binomial distribution test calculator, entering the probability .5, n=number of trials (in this case 5), and s=number of successes, in this case also 5.

This genealogy has 55-55+1 cycles, thus only one relinking for blood marriage, thus sidedness is neutral or absent

Cousin marriage and sidedness

The Vedda example (Sitala and Godatalawa groups; Seligmann and Seligmann 1911:61) from an ethnographic case discussed by Lévi-Strauss, and analyzed as a p-graph in Figure 1 will illustrate visualization, theorization and analysis of kinship networks relevant to Lévi-Strauss’s concerns with relational versus categorical systems. Reformulating Weil’s network-among-families for actual families rather than those that illustrate different types of marriages, using Weil’s methods to represent actual genealogical networks rather than reductive algebraic models proved decisive in creating a new focus of multi-level network analysis. For Lévi-Strauss (e.g., 1969: 102 (Vedda and Toda), 107 (Toda), 406-408 (Toda)), the Vedda, Toda and other small scale societies of South India are useful in contrasting cross-cousin marriage (ccm) as a poorly differentiated precursor of dual organization at the societal level but one which differentiates different types of reciprocity, as in symmetric ccm, asymmetric matrilateral ccm and the delayed reciprocity of patrilateral ccm:

“Both are systems of reciprocity…. But while dual organization with exogamous moieties defines the actual spouse vaguely, it determines the number and identity of possible spouses most closely. In other words, it is the highly specialized formula for a system which has its beginnings, still poorly differentiated, in cross-cousin marriage. Cross-cousin marriage defines a relationship, and establishes a perfect or approximate model of the relationship in each case. Dual organization delimits two classes by applying a uniform rule guaranteeing that individuals born or distributed into these two classes will always stand in this relationship in its widest sense. What is lost in precision is gained in automation and simplicity” (1969:102).

“cross-cousin marriage appears (or reappears) precisely where dual organization is missing.” (1969:103).

The problem of discerning dual organization when it is present as sidedness is illustrated by the quote, which is erroneous in this and other cases with sidedness:

…(graphic above)

Vedda Sidedness. For Lévi-Strauss, following Goldenweiser (1913), “there must be a way to approach the study of kinship systems which avoids their apparent and impossible complexity” (1969:125), giving rise to the “idea that kinship must be interpreted as a structural phenomena, and not simply as a result of the juxtaposition of terms and customs” (1969:124).

Rather than imposing structural models on kinship, we consider in Figure 1 the following two kinship network representations of the “complexity” of Vedda foragers’ kin relations in the Sitala Wanniya/Godatalawa forager communities (Seligmann and Seligmann 1911:61). For these Vedda, as with the Toda, “The genealogies show how small are these communities and, since every Vedda should marry a first cousin, marriage does little or nothing to enlarge the number of his connections” (Seligmann and Seligmann 1911:59). The two-sidedness of these marriages, however, is highly integrative for a small forager community.

Graph (a) Graph (b) Figure 1. Genealogy of Sitala groups of Vedda viewed in terms of two graphs with marriages: (a) of men from one named matrilocal matrilineage into another on the opposing uxori-side; and (b) of women between opposite viri-sided unnamed nonresidential male lines. Generations are slanted for easier reading of the labels of each node (couples or children with parents in nodes above). Dotted lines represent female links to parents, solid lines the male links to parents. Data: Kinsources, extracted from Seligmann and Seligmann (1911:61).

The shadings or colors of nodes in these two depictions of the kinship network of Sitala Wanniya/Godatalawa groups represent Vedda couples or individuals in successive generations, starting with a common ancestral couple H47 & F48 in the highest node (a circle with a blank interior) on both the left and rightmost graphs. Arrows up to a parental node are solid for sons and dotted for daughters. Graph (a) shows matrilines with common residence (the Vedda are matrilineal and mostly matrilocal), with male solid lines connecting the two sides, as between family of orientation and family of procreation. In graph (b) the male lines are vertically clustered, with female dotted lines connecting the two sides. In (a) alternating male lines join the residential groups of their wives, which are organized into two matrimonial moieties (in the terminology of kinship networks these are uxori-sides) which actually distribute across and thus integrate different communities. In (b), alternating female lines join the nonresidential descent lines of their husbands, which are not formally organized into two patrimonial moieties but exhibit, in the parlance of kinship networks, viri-sidedness.

In the two graphs above, all 19 couples are structurally cohesive (19/19) in a single bicomponent, leaving 15 singleton nodes. The marriages in the structurally cohesive bicomponent are perfectly sided (marrying on the opposite side whether between female lines or male lines. The exchange between sides is symmetric but individual marriages include a FZD in generation 2 and a MBD in generation 3. The expected ratio of sided/notsided links if marriages were random is 8/8 with a binomial probability of p=0.314. With 18 sided links in the bicomponent the binomial random probability is p=.000004.

This community kinship structure is far more complex than what Lévi-Strauss or the Seligmanns imagined. They were unable to see the latent structure of either the uxori- or the viri-sidedness of the network, which would be self-evident to Vedda residents. But what we have here is three “levels” of community structure: structural cohesion at the highest level, then dual organizations splitting the community into two uxori-sides, two viri-sides, four divisions formed by their intersection, all but the first unnamed, and six same generation marriage strata (no adjacent-generation marriage). This supports Lévi-Strauss’s and Weil’s views that these structures are not classificatory groupings named by the Vedda themselves, but implicit in their relational practices of individuals and groups who make marriage choices.

The marriage relations network among families (nodes and arcs in Figure 1) constitutes a third level of unnamed structure. The actual marriages, in the context of a network that evolves through time, are consistent with a Dravidian kinship terminology by which kin are classified at the egocentric level. Given the structure of actual marriages, the Vedda kin terminology (Trautmann 1981:155-156; 233) is “sided” in ways that reproduce the divisions produced by network behaviors but disguised from outsiders by the fact that they are relational and egocentric rather than defined by residents in sociocentric terms. Lévi-Strauss (1969:102) said of the Vedda that “an individual who has no cross-cousins can contract another marriage, it being understood that the possible marriages are arranged in a preferential order, in terms of how far they conform with the ideal model.” But if we randomly permute the links from parents on one side of Figure 1 to their children in the next generation on the other side (whether males or females), as an extension of White’s (1999) “controlled simulation” method, the probability of two or more cross-cousin marriages is strongly non-significant as a departure from at random (see White and Schweizer 1998). Contra Lévi-Strauss and the Seligmanns, there is no empirical evidence here of even a weak preference gradient for cross-cousin marriage, and it is structural cohesion and sidedness that are integrative for the community.