Jino Ethnic Group: Holding the Maternal Uncle in High Esteem

The Jinos highly respect their maternal uncles, who possess an extremely high prestige in Jino’s social life. An uncle enjoys many items of traditional authority and responsibility, even surpassing those of children’s father. When the nephew or the niece plans to find a lover and get married, they should first gain their uncle’s approval. Especially during the process of the niece’s wedding ceremony, the uncle occupies a pivotal position. After the niece is engaged, the bridegroom’s father should bring the matchmaker and present wine to the bride’s family to enter a relationship with the uncle. Only since then, this marriage can be said fixed. Two days before the wedding, there should also be a grand ceremony to request the uncle to let the bride go. The bridegroom’s father should invite two witnesses of the wedding and many relatives and friends, taking with them five chickens, five bowls of nice wine, one package of diced meat as a ceremonial present, and some other presents, to the bride’s uncle’s home to give a banquet and discuss about the details.

During the feast, the eloquent matchmaker tells the wedding day to the uncle, explains that the uncle occupies the power of kinship to the niece and that only getting the uncle’s permission could the girl get married, and requests his permission of letting the girl go. Only after this ceremony can the wedding be held as scheduled. When the nephew is to get married, though not as complicated as that of the niece’s, he also has to offer presents to the uncle. In the important activities, such as building new houses and having parties in festivals, the uncle must be invited to be present and be esteemed as the guest of honor. If the uncle died, the nephew and the niece should not wear earrings, wrap scarves or sing in the following year. Consequently, the uncle, being highly respected, has the obligation to foster and protect his nephew and niece.

When they get married, the uncle should give a lot of presents, some even surpassing the amount given by their parents. If the parents of the nephew or the niece have died when they were young, the uncle must take the responsibility of bringing them up. The authority to those nephews or nieces born out of wedlock also belongs to the uncle only. It is obviously that this custom is handed down from matriarchal society and marriage within consanguinity in the ancient ages. 

This custom is also reflected in the names of the Jinos. In the past, the Jinos were named as “Diuluo”, meaning abandoned, for people believed the Jinos were the soldiers abandoned during Kongming’s (Kongming is also referred as ZhugeLiang, a legendary politician in the Three Kingdoms) south expedition. Actually, in Jino’s language, “Jino” has no meaning of being abandoned. “Ji” stands for the maternal uncle, and “no” means behind. Therefore, the combination of “Jino” means “following behind the maternal uncle,” which can be extended as “a people holding the maternal uncle in high esteem.”