International Journal of Anthropology

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 35–40 | Cite as

Introducing a second wife. A matrimonial aid in cases of a childless marriage

  • J. Vince-Pallua


On the basis of the corpus of 2.727 answers to the questions contained in the archives of the Ethnological Atlas, Department of Ethnology, University of Zagreb, the author has tried to provide an answer to the question concerning reasons for introducing a second wife while the first wife is still alive. Attentive comparative analysis of the entire material (analized according to religion) leads to the incontestable conclusion that the first and basic consideration is the desire for children or the desire for male children. This makes the position of the infertile women tragic. The basic life credo of patriarchal societies is the production of children. Often a woman can establish her position in society only after she has borne a male child when she may have a place in the husband's family on the basis of blood ties. The author comes to the conclusion that in this respect, even among the Muslims, where more than one wife was allowed, it is less a matter of a second wife, or bigamy, in the true sense but of introducing a new wife as a matrimonial aid primarily in cases of a childless marriage.

Key word

Bigamy marital infertility social culture 


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Copyright information

© International Institute for the Study of Man 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Vince-Pallua
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Ethnology, Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of Zagreb Ivana Lučića 3ZagrebCroatia

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