Bride service

Bride service has traditionally been portrayed in the anthropological literature as the service rendered by the bridegroom to a bride's family as a bride price or part of one (see dowry).

Bride service and bride wealth models frame anthropological discussions of kinship in many regions of the world.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Patterns of matrilocal post-marital residence, as well as the practice of temporary or prolonged bride service, have been widely reported for Native Amazonia.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19] In Amazonia, bride service is frequently performed in conjunction with an interval of uxorilocal residence. The length of uxorilocal residence and the duration of bride service are contingent upon negotiations between the concerned parties, the outcome of which has been characterized as an enduring commitment or permanent debt.[20][21] The power wielded by those who “give” wives over those who “take” them is also said to be a significant part of the political relationships in societies where bride service obligations are prevalent.[22][23]

Rather than seeing affinity in terms of a "compensation" model whereby individuals are exchanged as objects, Dean’s (1995) research on Amazonian bride service among the Urarina[24] demonstrates how differentially situated subjects negotiate the politics of marriage. [25]

An example of bride service occurs in the Hebrew Bible, Genesis 29:16-29, when Jacob labored for Laban for fourteen years to marry Rachel. Originally the deal was seven years, but Laban tricked Jacob by giving him Leah on their wedding day, so Jacob had to work another seven years to obtain the girl he had originally fallen in love with, Rachel.


  1. Langenbahn 1989; Fricke
  2. Thornton and Dahal 1998
  3. Hagen 1999
  4. Gose 2000
  5. Helliwell 2000
  6. Jamieson 2003
  7. Arvelo-Jiménez 1971:104
  8. Dumont 1978:75
  9. Harner 1973:79-80
  10. Hill & Moran 1983:124-25
  11. Holmberg 1969:217
  12. Kracke 1976
  13. Maybury-Lewis 1971:384; 1967:97f; 1979:9
  14. Murphy 1956
  15. Rivière 1984:40f
  16. Renshaw 2002:186ff
  17. Siskind 1977:79-81
  18. Turner 1979:159-60
  19. Whitten & Whitten 1984:209
  20. Rosengren 1987:127
  21. Gow 1989a:187-8
  22. Rivière 1977:41
  23. Mentore 1987:511-27
  24. Bartholomew Dean, Urarina Society, Cosmology, and History in Peruvian Amazonia, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009 (ISBN 978-0-8130-3378-5).
  25. Bartholomew Dean, "Forbidden fruit: infidelity, affinity and bride service among the Urarina of Peruvian Amazonia" in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1995.
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