Tilung Composition

Each apartment contains either a nuclear, a stem or an extended family, although it is desirable and prestigious to maintain as large a tilung as possible. However, limitations of space and the splitting off of domestic groups create cyclic fluctuations in tilung size.

Most apartments contain a single household — the consumption and production unit; for those which have split into two households will normally establish a new apartment (tilung karep, literally ‘own separate apartment’) when circumstances permit. Of the forty-one occupied apartments at Levu Lahanan, thirty-two (78 per cent) form a single production and consumption unit, but nine (22 per cent) are split into ‘two cooking pots’ (legua buyun). This implies not only separate cooking arrangements but also separate production and consumption units. All nine of these apartments house more than the average of six members, ranging from seven to sixteen members with the majority containing nine or ten persons.

The most common form of tilung organization is a stem family with parents and unmarried children, plus a married daughter, her husband and their children. Twenty apartments (49 per cent) contain stem families. Extended households usually contain more than one married child — usually two married daughters — but this is always a transitory form as the expectation is that all but one married daughter will eventually establish their own apartments. Extended households number six (14 per cent). Only fifteen households (37 per cent) consist of a single nuclear family, in two cases a surviving spouse and child. Eight of these nuclear families have established their own tilung within the last five years, all of them splitting from the wife’s natal apartment. The remaining five nuclear families are the surviving members of a tilung in which previous members have died or moved to another apartment. Twenty-one apartments have a genealogical depth of three generations and five have a genealogical depth of four.