Country Listing

Mongolia Table of Contents


Kinship, Family, and Marriage


Traditional Mongols traced descent patrilineally, from fathers to sons, and recognized progressively larger and more inclusive sets of patrilineal lineages and clans, thought of as all the male descendants of a common grandfather, greatgrandfather , and so on. By the nineteenth century, such descent groups had no political role, were not coresident, held no common estate, and hence were of little significance in the lives of ordinary Mongolians. The hereditary aristocrats based their status on membership in aristocratic lineages (which claimed descent from Chinggis Khan), but political office was more important for elite status than lineage membership alone. Lineages and clans have not played a major role in modern Mongolian society, and it is doubtful that many contemporary people even know their lineage affiliation. Contemporary Mongols use a single given name with a patronymic, so names provide few clues to common descent or kinship. There is no information on the extent to which Mongolians observe traditional exogamic restrictions on marriage with various categories of patrilateral and matrilateral kin.

Data as of June 1989