Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Article contents

The Nahua calli of ancient Mexico: household, family, and gender

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2003


ROBERT McCAA
Affiliation:
Department of History, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Abstract

The Nahua (Aztecs) of ancient Mexico lived in large, extended family households (calli). A fundamental tenet of family history is that in the past high mortality was a major obstacle to household complexity. This was not the case for the Nahua, whose life expectancy was probably worse than any seen in Europe since the Black Death. Nahua populations were characterized by patriarchy, child marriage and greater proportions of complex and more diverse households than in regions of Europe which historians have identified as containing many complex households. Among the Nahua, although relationships within the household could be either uxorilocal or virilocal (relationship through the wife or the husband), subordination of women to male patriarchs was extensive. Most girls were married (cohabiting) well before the age of puberty. Thus, childless couples were common, but males without children rarely attained headship. While neither polygamy nor abandonment was widespread, their significance for gender oppression should not be denied. Widowhood offered new opportunities for companionship, but only for widowers. For widows, remarriage was infrequent and subordination to a male relative was inevitable. In modern Mexico, few remnants of this pre-conquest household system remain. According to the 1990 census, fewer than 10 per cent of Mexicans live as extended kin or as non-relatives in a household, even in rural Morelos where four centuries ago the compound family was the norm. The few modern examples of multiple family households tend to be Hispanic-like virilocal, patrilineal extended families.


Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2003 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 215 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 5th December 2020. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Hostname: page-component-b4dcdd7-lltvg Total loading time: 0.259 Render date: 2020-12-05T02:15:57.936Z Query parameters: { "hasAccess": "0", "openAccess": "0", "isLogged": "0", "lang": "en" } Feature Flags last update: Sat Dec 05 2020 02:00:55 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) Feature Flags: { "metrics": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "peerReview": true, "crossMark": true, "comments": true, "relatedCommentaries": true, "subject": true, "clr": false, "languageSwitch": true }

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The Nahua calli of ancient Mexico: household, family, and gender
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

The Nahua calli of ancient Mexico: household, family, and gender
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

The Nahua calli of ancient Mexico: household, family, and gender
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *