Culture and Society

What is polyandry?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Polyandry and polygyny are both forms of polygamy. Polyandry is when a woman has more than one husband. Polygyny, when a man has multiple wives, is much more common. Though both practices may seem strange to cultures that primarily approve only monogamous relationships, polygyny and polyandry can each have perceived benefits. For example, polygyny makes sense to some cultures because a hard-working, wealthy man is a good choice for a mate: He's able to support multiple wives and children. Also, a man can father many children at the same time, while a woman can only have one every nine months. If the husband has several wives, he has more opportunities to pass on his genes. This is especially important in a culture that values large families and prodigious creation of offspring.

    Polyandry, on the other hand, is a rare type of polygamy where one woman has multiple husbands. There are few cultures that practice polyandry -- the Nyinba people of Nepal make up one of them. Polyandry can also have perceived practical benefits. For example, in the Nyinbian culture, women practice what is called fraternal polyandry, which means that when a woman marries a man, she marries his brothers as well. Every brother in the family has equal sexual access to the wife, and everyone in the family cares for the children of the polygamous union. This means that all of the brothers combine their resources and use them to foster the well-being of the children the wife bears. Polyandry is often designed to help structure the marriage so it's built upon an entire family's wealth and resources. A form of polygamy that's even rarer is when a society allows a couple to take both multiple husbands and multiple wives. The Amazon Zoe tribe is one tribe that still practices this type of polygamy. Essentially, the practice of this society combines polygyny and polyandry in the same marriage structure.

    Culture And Societies Polygamyqa2
    (Getty Images)

    More answers from Discovery Channel »



Still Curious?
  • How can large corporations help solve world hunger?


    Answered by Dr. Mehmood Khan

  • How do you use a Flybar?


    Answered by Discovery Fit & Health

  • Are fencing bouts scored differently for different weapons?


    Answered by Craig C. Freudenrich and Science Channel

Advertisement

What are you curious about?

Image Gallery