Between Precendence and Hierarchy: Matrilineality in Ende in Flores

Satoshi Nakagawa (Osaka University)


This paper aims to study interaction between precedence and hierarchy with a special reference to the Ende people, in central Flores, eastern Indonesia. Here, I equate with precedence with “attributive”  classification and hierarchy with “relational” one. In the attributive classification, on the one hand, “the sameness” comes first and “the difference” follows. “The sameness” is a given in the system and “the
difference” is what is to be explained. On the other hand, in the relational classification, “the difference” comes first and “the sameness” follows. This opposition between the two ways of classification corresponds, I presume, with the opposition between precedence and hierarchy.

In Ende kinship reckoning, it is patrilineality that counts ideologically. The working of patrilineality follows the principle of precedence (that is, attributive classification). In Ende, thus, being of the same patrilineal descent means “the sameness”; it is a given in the cultural ideology. Another important classificatory principle in Ende is the opposition between WG/WT, the archetypal “otherness” (or being different). Here in this reckoning system, “difference” is the given.

In contrast to these two principles (patrilineality, a type of precedence and WG/WT relationship, a type of hierarchy), matrilineality is not supported by any cultural ideology; there is, for example, no supposed substances inherited matrilineally (an idea which is found in some societies in eastern Indonesia). Matrilineality is located, as it were, in the no man’s land between patrilineality and WG/WT relation, between precedence and hierarchy.

Nevertheless, matrilineality plays an important role in Ende kinship reckoning. Sometimes the relation is regarded as quasi patrilineality and sometimes as quasi WG/WT. I will analyze how matrilineality works in Ende, and hope to contribute to the study of precedence and hierarchy.

Keywords: precedence, hierarchy, descent, alliance, Ende, Flores