Population structure of the Jirels: Patterns of mate choice

S. Williams‐Blangero

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Scopus citations


    The influence of mating practices on genetic structure has been an area of great interest for anthropologists. In this paper, the techniques of potential mates analysis are employed to explore the mating patterns observed among the Jirels, a tribal population of eastern Nepal. Genealogical, anthropometric, dermatoglyphic, and demographic data for members of seven Jirel villages are used. Potential mate pools for a sample of 268 females are enumerated by village. Age structure and the Jirel restriction against clan endogamy are found to severely limit the number of males who are potential mates for a given female. The mating structure of the population is illuminated by statistical analysis of the characteristics of 160 actual mate pairs and all corresponding potential mate pairs. Using this approach several general mate choice practices were verified: (1) biological kin tend to be avoided as mates, (2) members of the same clan are excluded as potential mates, (3) mate exchange between clans is nonrandom, (4) individuals similar in age tend to be selected as mates, and (5) mates are drawn from the natal village more often than random expectation. A multivariate phenotypic distance measure between individuals did not reveal any evidence for assortative mating for either anthropometric or dermatoglyphic characters.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)61-71
    Number of pages11
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - May 1990


    • Nepal
    • Population genetics
    • Potential mates analysis

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anatomy
    • Anthropology


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