Polygamy

Polygamy

Overview
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners. When a man is married to more than one wife at a time, the relationship is called polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

, and there is no marriage bond between the wives; and when a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry
Polyandry
Polyandry refers to a form of marriage in which a woman has two or more husbands at the same time. The form of polyandry in which a woman is married to two or more brothers is known as "fraternal polyandry", and it is believed by many anthropologists to be the most frequently encountered...

, and there is no marriage bond between the husbands. If a marriage includes multiple husbands and wives, it can be called group marriage
Group marriage
Group marriage, also known as multi-lateral marriage, is a form of polyamory in which more than two persons form a family unit, with all the members of the group marriage being considered to be married to all the other members of the group marriage, and all members of the marriage share parental...

.
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Encyclopedia
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners. When a man is married to more than one wife at a time, the relationship is called polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

, and there is no marriage bond between the wives; and when a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry
Polyandry
Polyandry refers to a form of marriage in which a woman has two or more husbands at the same time. The form of polyandry in which a woman is married to two or more brothers is known as "fraternal polyandry", and it is believed by many anthropologists to be the most frequently encountered...

, and there is no marriage bond between the husbands. If a marriage includes multiple husbands and wives, it can be called group marriage
Group marriage
Group marriage, also known as multi-lateral marriage, is a form of polyamory in which more than two persons form a family unit, with all the members of the group marriage being considered to be married to all the other members of the group marriage, and all members of the marriage share parental...

. The term is used in related ways in social anthropology
Social anthropology
Social Anthropology is one of the four or five branches of anthropology that studies how contemporary human beings behave in social groups. Practitioners of social anthropology investigate, often through long-term, intensive field studies , the social organization of a particular person: customs,...

, sociobiology
Sociobiology
Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behavior within that context. Often considered a branch of biology and sociology, it also draws from ethology, anthropology,...

, sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, as well as in popular speech. In social anthropology, polygamy is the practice of a person's making him/herself available for two or more spouses to mate with. In contrast, monogamy
Monogamy
Monogamy /Gr. μονός+γάμος - one+marriage/ a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse at any one time. In current usage monogamy often refers to having one sexual partner irrespective of marriage or reproduction...

 is a marriage consisting of only two parties. Like monogamy, the term is often used in a de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

sense, applying regardless of whether the relationships are recognized by the state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 (see marriage
Marriage (conflict)
In conflict of laws, the issue of marriage has assumed increasing public policy significance in a world of increasing multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-national relationships...

 for a discussion on the extent to which states can and do recognize potentially and actually polygamous forms as valid). In sociobiology
Sociobiology
Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behavior within that context. Often considered a branch of biology and sociology, it also draws from ethology, anthropology,...

 and zoology
Zoology
Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

, polygamy is used in a broad sense to mean any form of multiple mating
Mating
In biology, mating is the pairing of opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms for copulation. In social animals, it also includes the raising of their offspring. Copulation is the union of the sex organs of two sexually reproducing animals for insemination and subsequent internal fertilization...

.

Forms of polygamy



Polygamy exists in three specific forms: polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

 - wherein a man has multiple simultaneous wives; polyandry
Polyandry
Polyandry refers to a form of marriage in which a woman has two or more husbands at the same time. The form of polyandry in which a woman is married to two or more brothers is known as "fraternal polyandry", and it is believed by many anthropologists to be the most frequently encountered...

 - wherein a woman has multiple simultaneous husbands; or group marriage
Group marriage
Group marriage, also known as multi-lateral marriage, is a form of polyamory in which more than two persons form a family unit, with all the members of the group marriage being considered to be married to all the other members of the group marriage, and all members of the marriage share parental...

 - wherein the family unit consists of multiple husbands and multiple wives.

Historically, all three practices have been found, but polygyny is by far the most common. Confusion arises when the broad term "polygamy" is used when a specific form of polygamy is being referred to. Additionally, different countries may or may not include all forms in their Polygamy laws.

Polyandry



Polyandry is a practice wherein a woman has more than one husband at the same time. Fraternal polyandry was traditionally practiced among nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic Tibetans
Tibetan people
The Tibetan people are an ethnic group that is native to Tibet, which is mostly in the People's Republic of China. They number 5.4 million and are the 10th largest ethnic group in the country. Significant Tibetan minorities also live in India, Nepal, and Bhutan...

 in Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, parts of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and part of northern India, in which two or more brothers are married to the same wife, with the wife having equal 'sexual access' to them. The Indian epic the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

 includes the polyandrous marriage of Draupadi
Draupadi
In the epic Mahābhārata, Draupadi, also known as ' is the "emerged" daughter of King Drupada of Panchāla and the wife of the five Pandavas. When Yudhisthira becomes the king of Hastinapura at the end of the war, Draupadi becomes the queen of Indraprastha...

 to the five Pandava
Pandava
In the Hindu epic Mahābhārata, the Pandava are the five acknowledged sons of Pandu , by his two wives Kunti and Madri. Their names are Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Although, Karna is told by Lord Krishna that according to the laws and ethics he is the first son of Kunti making...

 brothers. Polyandry is believed to be more likely in societies with scarce environmental resources, as it is believed to limit human population growth and enhance child survival. It is a rare form of marriage that exists not only among poor families, but also the elite.

Group marriage



Group marriage is a marriage wherein the family unit consists of more than two partners, any of whom share parent
Parent
A parent is a caretaker of the offspring in their own species. In humans, a parent is of a child . Children can have one or more parents, but they must have two biological parents. Biological parents consist of the male who sired the child and the female who gave birth to the child...

al responsibility for any children arising from the marriage. Group marriage is a form of non-monogamy and polyamory
Polyamory
Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved....

.

Patterns of occurrence worldwide


According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, of 1,231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry. At the same time, even within societies which allow polygyny, the actual practice of polygyny occurs relatively rarely.
There are exceptions: in Senegal
Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

, for example, nearly 47 percent of marriages are multiple. To take on more than one wife often requires considerable resources: this may put polygamy beyond the means of the vast majority of people within those societies. Such appears the case in many traditional Islamic societies, and in Imperial China. Within polygynous societies, multiple wives often become a status symbol
Status symbol
A status symbol is a perceived visible, external denotation of one's social position and perceived indicator of economic or social status. Many luxury goods are often considered status symbols...

 denoting wealth, power, and fame.

Hinduism


Polygamy was practiced in many sections of Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 society in ancient times. There was one example of polyandry
Polyandry
Polyandry refers to a form of marriage in which a woman has two or more husbands at the same time. The form of polyandry in which a woman is married to two or more brothers is known as "fraternal polyandry", and it is believed by many anthropologists to be the most frequently encountered...

 in the ancient Hindu epic, Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, Draupadi
Draupadi
In the epic Mahābhārata, Draupadi, also known as ' is the "emerged" daughter of King Drupada of Panchāla and the wife of the five Pandavas. When Yudhisthira becomes the king of Hastinapura at the end of the war, Draupadi becomes the queen of Indraprastha...

 marries the five Pandava
Pandava
In the Hindu epic Mahābhārata, the Pandava are the five acknowledged sons of Pandu , by his two wives Kunti and Madri. Their names are Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. Although, Karna is told by Lord Krishna that according to the laws and ethics he is the first son of Kunti making...

 brothers. Regarding polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

, in Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

, father of Ram
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, King Dasharath has three wives, but Ram has pledged himself just one wife.

The Hindu god, Lord Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

, the 9th incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 had 16,108 wives at his kingdom in Dwarka
Dwarka
Dwarka also spelled Dvarka, Dwaraka, and Dvaraka, is a city and a municipality of Jamnagar district in the Gujarat state in India. Dwarka , also known as Dwarawati in Sanskrit literature is rated as one of the seven most ancient cities in the country...

. In the post-Vedic period
Vedic period
The Vedic period was a period in history during which the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, were composed. The time span of the period is uncertain. Philological and linguistic evidence indicates that the Rigveda, the oldest of the Vedas, was composed roughly between 1700–1100 BCE, also...

s, polygamy declined in Hinduism, and is now considered immoral, although it is thought that some sections of Hindu society still practice polygyny, in the areas of Tibet, Nepal, and China.

Marriage laws in India are dependent upon the religion of the subject in question. Although the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 and the Hindu religion itself do not outlaw polygamy, the terms under the Hindu Marriage Act
Hindu Marriage Act
The Hindu Marriage Act was established in 1955 as part of the Hindu Code Bills. Three other important acts were also created during this time and they include the Hindu Succession Act , the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act , and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act...

 has deemed polygamy to be illegal for Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs. Only Muslim men in India are allowed to have multiple wives, since they are governed under Sharia law.

Buddhism


In Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, marriage is not a sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

. It is purely a secular affair and the monks do not participate in it, though in some sects priests and monks do marry (e.g. Japan). Hence it receives no religious sanction. Forms of marriage consequently vary from country to country. It is said in the Parabhava Sutta that "a man who is not satisfied with one woman and seeks out other women is on the path to decline". Other fragments in the Buddhist scripture can be found that seem to treat polygamy unfavorably, leading some authors to conclude that Buddhism generally does not approve of it or alternatively that it is a tolerated, but subordinate marital model.

Until 1935 polygyny was legally recognized in Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. In Burma, polygyny was also frequent. It is still legally recognized but very rarely practiced in modern day and socially less acceptable. In Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, polyandry was practiced (though not widespread) till recent times. When the Buddhist texts were translated into Chinese, the concubines of others were added to the list of inappropriate partners. Polyandry in Tibet
Polyandry in Tibet
Polyandry is a form of polygamy whereby a woman has several husbands. In Tibet those husbands are often brothers, which is why it is most commonly called "Fraternal Polyandry". Concern over the delicate question of which children are fathered by which brother falls on the wife alone...

 as well was common traditionally, as was polygyny, and having several wives or husbands was never regarded as having sex with inappropriate partners. Tibet is home to the largest and most flourishing polyandrous community in the world today. Most typically, fraternal polyandry is practiced, but sometimes father and son have a common wife, which is a unique family structure in the world. Other forms of marriage are also present, like group marriage and monogamous marriage. Polyandry (especially fraternal polyandry) is also common among Buddhists in Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

, Ladakh
Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

, and other parts of the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

.

Biblical practice



Multiple marriage was considered a realistic alternative in the case of famine, widowhood, or female infertility like in the practice of levirate marriage
Levirate marriage
Levirate marriage is a type of marriage in which the brother of a deceased man is obligated to marry his brother's widow, and the widow is obligated to marry her deceased husband's brother....

, wherein a man was required to marry and support his deceased brother's widow
Widow
A widow is a woman whose spouse has died, while a widower is a man whose spouse has died. The state of having lost one's spouse to death is termed widowhood or occasionally viduity. The adjective form is widowed...

, as mandated by . Despite its prevalence in the Hebrew bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, scholars do not believe that polygyny was commonly practiced in the biblical era because it required a significant amount of wealth.
The Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

, Judaism's central text, includes a few specific regulations on the practice of polygamy, such as , which states that multiple marriages are not to diminish the status of the first wife (specifically, her right to food, clothing and conjugal relations). , states that a man must award the inheritance due to a first-born son to the son who was actually born first, even if he hates that son's mother and likes another wife more; and states that the king shall not have too many wives. The king's behavior is condemned by Prophet Samuel in . Exodus 21:10 also speaks of Jewish concubines. Israeli lexicographer Vadim Cherny argues that the Torah carefully distinguishes concubines and "sub-standard" wives with prefix "to", lit. "took to wives."
The monogamy of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 was the cause of two explanatory notes in the writings of Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 describing how the polygamous marriages of Herod
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 were permitted under Jewish custom.

Modern practice


In the modern day, polygamy is uncommon in Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

, especially among European Jews. Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 have followed Rabbenu Gershom's ban since the 11th century. Some Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews (particularly those from North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

, Kurdistan, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

) discontinued polygamy much more recently, as they emigrated to countries where it was forbidden. However polygamy still occurs in non-European Jewish communities that exist in countries where it is not forbidden, such as Jewish communities in Yemen and the Arab world. Technically, polygamy is not forbidden in Jewish law.

Among Karaite Jews, who do not adhere to Rabbinic interpretations of the Torah, polygamy is almost non-existent today. Like other Jews, Karaites interpret to mean that a man can only take a second wife if his first wife gives her consent (Keter Torah on Leviticus, pp. 96–97) and Karaites interpret Exodus 21:10 to mean that a man can only take a second wife if he is capable of maintaining the same level of marital duties due to his first wife; the marital duties are 1) food, 2) clothing, and 3) sexual gratification. Because of these two biblical limitations and because most countries outlaw it, polygamy is considered highly impractical, and there are only a few known cases of it among Karaite Jews today.
Israel

Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, in accordance with Western ethics, has made polygamy illegal. Provisions were instituted to allow for existing polygamous families immigrating from countries where the practice was legal. Furthermore, former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Ovadia Yosef
Ovadia Yosef is the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, a recognised Talmudic scholar and foremost halakhic authority.He currently serves as the spiritual leader of the Shas political party in the Israeli parliament...

 has come out in favor of legalizing polygamy and the practice of pilegesh
Pilegesh
Pilegesh is a Hebrew term for a concubine with similar social and legal standing to a recognized wife, often for the purpose of producing offspring.-Etymology:...

 (concubine) by the Israeli government.

Tzvi Zohar, a professor from the Bar-Ilan University
Bar-Ilan University
Bar-Ilan University is a university in Ramat Gan of the Tel Aviv District, Israel.Established in 1955, Bar Ilan is now Israel's second-largest academic institution. It has nearly 26,800 students and 1,350 faculty members...

, recently suggested that based on the opinions of leading halachic authorities, the concept of concubines may serve as a practical Halachic justification for premarital or non-marital cohabitation.

Christianity



Saint Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 saw a conflict with Old Testament polygamy. He refrained from judging the patriarchs, but did not deduce from their practice the ongoing acceptability of polygamy. On the contrary, he showed that polygamy of the Fathers, tolerated by the Creator because of fertility, was a diversion from His original plan for the human marriage. Augustine wrote:That the good purpose of marriage, however, is better promoted by one husband with one wife, than by a husband with several wives, is shown plainly enough by the very first union of a married pair, which was made by the Divine Being Himself.

Augustine taught that the reason why patriarchs had many wives was not because of fornication but because they wanted more children. He proved it by showing that their marriages, in which husband was a head, were arranged according to the rules of good management: those who are in command (quae principantur) in the society are always singular, while subordinates (subiecta) are multiple. He gave two examples of such relationship: dominus-servus - master-servant (in older translation, slave) and God-soul. The Bible many times says that worshipping multiple gods, i.e. idolatry is a fornication. Augustine relates to that: On this account there is no True God of souls, save One: but one soul by means of many false gods may commit fornication, but not be made fruitful.

Since the fullness of time arrived, fertility has no longer been regarded as a reason justifying polygamy: it was lawful among the ancient fathers: whether it be lawful now also, I would not hastily pronounce (utrum et nunc fas sit, non temere dixerim). For there is not now necessity of begetting children, as there then was, when, even when wives bear children, it was allowed, in order to a more numerous posterity, to marry other wives in addition, which now is certainly not lawful.

Augustine saw marriage as sacrament-friendly covenant between one man and one woman, which may not be broken. It was the Creator who established monogamy: Therefore the first natural bond of human society is man and wife. Such marriage was confirmed by the Saviour in the Gospel of Matthew (Mat 19,9) and by His presence at the wedding in Cana (John 2:2). In the Church—the City of God—marriage is a sacrament and may not and cannot be dissolved as long as the spouses live: But a marriage once for all entered upon in the City of our God, where, even from the first union of the two, the man and the woman, marriage bears a certain sacramental character, can in no way be dissolved but by the death of one of them.. In chapter 7, he points out that also the practice of the Roman Empire forbids polygamy, even if the reason of fertility would support it: For it is in a man’s power to put away a wife that is barren, and marry one of whom to have children. And yet it is not allowed; and now indeed in our times, and after the usage of Rome (nostris quidem iam temporibus ac more Romano), neither to marry in addition, so as to have more than one wife living. Further on he notices that the Church's attitude goes much further than the secular law regarding monogamy: It forbids re-marrying, considering such to be a form of fornication: And yet, save in the City of our God, in His Holy Mount, the case is not such with the wife. But, that the laws of the Gentiles are otherwise, who is there that knows not .

The New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 does not specifically address the morality of polygamy. 1 Timothy, however, states that certain Church leaders should have but one wife: "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach" (chapter 3, verse 2; see also verse 12 regarding deacons having only one wife). Similar counsel is repeated in the first chapter of the Epistle of Titus; however, the redactor of 1 Corinthians (chapter 7, verse 2) writes, "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." In modern times a minority of Roman Catholic theologians have argued that polygamy, though not ideal, can be a legitimate form of Christian marriage in certain regions, in particular Africa. The Roman Catholic Church teaches in its Catechism that

"polygamy is not in accord with the moral law. [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive."


Periodically, Christian reform movements that have aimed at rebuilding Christian doctrine based on the Bible alone (sola scriptura
Sola scriptura
Sola scriptura is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands that only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid...

) have at least temporarily accepted polygamy as a Biblical practice. For example, during the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, in a document referred to simply as "Der Beichtrat" (or "The Confessional Advice" ), Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 granted the Landgrave
Landgrave
Landgrave was a title used in the Holy Roman Empire and later on by its former territories. The title refers to a count who had feudal duty directly to the Holy Roman Emperor...

 Philip of Hesse, who, for many years, had been living "constantly in a state of adultery and fornication," a dispensation to take a second wife. The double marriage was to be done in secret however, to avoid public scandal. Some fifteen years earlier, in a letter to the Saxon Chancellor Gregor Brück, Luther stated that he could not "forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture." ("Ego sane fateor, me non posse prohibere, si quis plures velit uxores ducere, nec repugnat sacris literis.")

"On February 14, 1650, the parliament at Nürnberg decreed that, because so many men were killed during the Thirty Years’ War, the churches for the following ten years could not admit any man under the age of 60 into a monastery. Priests and ministers not bound by any monastery were allowed to marry. Lastly, the decree stated that every man was allowed to marry up to ten women. The men were admonished to behave honorably, provide for their wives properly, and prevent animosity among them."

The trend towards frequent divorce and remarriage is sometimes referred to as 'serial polygamy'. In contrast, others may refer to this as 'serial monogamy', since it is a series of monogamous relationships. The first term highlights the multiplicity of marriages throughout the life-cycle, the second the non-simultaneous nature of these marriages.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, there has often been a tension between the Christian churches' insistence on monogamy and traditional polygamy. In some instances in recent times there have been moves for accommodation; in other instances, churches have resisted such moves strongly. African Independent Churches have sometimes referred to those parts of the Old Testament which describe polygamy in defending the practice.

Roman Catholic Church


The Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 clearly condemns polygamy; the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

lists it in paragraph 2387 under the head "Other offenses against the dignity of marriage" and states that it "is not in accord with the moral law." Also in paragraph 1645 under the head "The Goods and Requirements of Conjugal Love" states "The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection. Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive."

The illegality of polygamy in certain areas creates, according to certain Bible passages, additional arguments against it. Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 writes "submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience" (Romans 13:5), for "the authorities that exist have been established by God." (Romans 13:1) St Peter concurs when he says to "submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right." (1 Peter 2:13,14) Pro-polygamists argue that, as long as polygamists currently do not obtain legal marriage licenses nor seek "common law marriage status" for additional spouses, no enforced laws are being broken any more than when monogamous couples who similarly co-habitate without a marriage license.

Latter Day Saint movement



The history of Mormon
Mormonism
Mormonism is the religion practiced by Mormons, and is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. beginning in the 1820s as a form of Christian primitivism. During the 1830s and 1840s, Mormonism gradually distinguished itself...

 polygamy (specifically polygyny) began with Joseph Smith, Jr. claiming to have received a revelation on July 17, 1831 that "plural marriage
Plural marriage
Polygamy was taught by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more than half of the 19th century, and practiced publicly from 1852 to 1890.The Church's practice of polygamy has been highly controversial, both within...

" should be practiced by some Mormon men who were specifically commanded to do so. This was later published in the Doctrine and Covenants
Doctrine and Covenants
The Doctrine and Covenants is a part of the open scriptural canon of several denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement...

 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Despite Smith's revelation, the 1835 edition of the 101st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, written after the doctrine of plural marriage began to be practiced, publicly condemned polygamy. This scripture was used by John Taylor
John Taylor (1808-1887)
John Taylor was the third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1880 to 1887. He is the only president of the LDS Church to have been born outside of the United States....

 in 1850 to quash Mormon polygamy rumors in Liverpool, England. Polygamy was made illegal in the state of Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 during the 1839–44 Nauvoo
Nauvoo, Illinois
Nauvoo is a small city in Hancock County, Illinois, United States. Although the population was just 1,063 at the 2000 census, and despite being difficult to reach due to its location in a remote corner of Illinois, Nauvoo attracts large numbers of visitors for its historic importance and its...

 era when several top Mormon leaders, including Smith, Brigham Young
Brigham Young
Brigham Young was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and a settler of the Western United States. He was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877, he founded Salt Lake City, and he served as the first governor of the Utah...

 and Heber C. Kimball
Heber C. Kimball
Heber Chase Kimball was a leader in the early Latter Day Saint movement. He served as one of the original twelve apostles in the early Latter Day Saint church, and as first counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his...

, took plural wives. Mormon elders who publicly taught that all men were commanded to enter plural marriage were subject to harsh discipline. On June 7, 1844 the Nauvoo Expositor
Nauvoo Expositor
The Nauvoo Expositor was a newspaper in Nauvoo, Illinois that published only one issue, which was dated June 7, 1844. Its publication set off a chain of events that led to the death of Latter Day Saint movement founder, Joseph Smith, Jr....

criticized Smith for plural marriage. After Joseph Smith's murder by a mob on June 27, 1844, the main body of Mormons left Nauvoo and followed Brigham Young to Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

 where the practice of plural marriage continued.

In 1852 Brigham Young
Brigham Young
Brigham Young was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and a settler of the Western United States. He was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877, he founded Salt Lake City, and he served as the first governor of the Utah...

, the second president of the LDS Church publicly acknowledged the practice of plural marriage through a sermon he gave. Additional sermons by top Mormon leaders on the virtues of polygamy followed. Controversy followed when polygyny became a social cause, writers began to publish works condemning polygamy. The key plank of the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

's 1856 platform
Party platform
A party platform, or platform sometimes also referred to as a manifesto, is a list of the actions which a political party, individual candidate, or other organization supports in order to appeal to the general public for the purpose of having said peoples' candidates voted into political office or...

 was "to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery". In 1862, Congress
37th United States Congress
The Thirty-seventh United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1861 to March 4, 1863, during the first two...

 issued the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act
Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act
The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act was a federal enactment of the United States Congress that was signed into law on July 8, 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln...

 which clarified that the practice of polygamy was illegal in all US territories
Organized incorporated territories of the United States
Organized incorporated territories are those territories of the United States that are both incorporated and organized .Through most of U.S...

. The LDS Church believed that their religiously-based practice of plural marriage was protected by the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

, however, the unanimous 1878 Supreme Court decision Reynolds v. United States
Reynolds v. United States
Reynolds v. United States, , was a Supreme Court of the United States case that held that religious duty was not a suitable defense to a criminal indictment...

declared that polygamy was not protected by the Constitution, based on the longstanding legal principle that "laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices."

Increasingly harsh anti-polygamy legislation in the US led some Mormons to emigrate to Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. In 1890, LDS Church president Wilford Woodruff
Wilford Woodruff
Wilford Woodruff, Sr. was the fourth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1889 until his death...

 issued a public declaration (the Manifesto
1890 Manifesto
The "1890 Manifesto", sometimes simply called "The Manifesto", is a statement which officially disavowed the continuing practice of plural marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...

) announcing that the LDS Church had discontinued new plural marriages. Anti-Mormon sentiment waned, as did opposition to statehood for Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

. The Smoot Hearings
Smoot Hearings
The Reed Smoot hearings were a series of Congressional hearings on whether the United States Senate should seat U.S. Senator Reed Smoot, who was elected by the Utah legislature in 1903...

 in 1904, which documented that the LDS Church was still practicing polygamy spurred the LDS Church to issue a Second Manifesto
Second Manifesto
The "Second Manifesto" was a 1904 declaration made by Joseph F. Smith, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , in which Smith stated the church was no longer sanctioning marriages that violated the laws of the land and set down the principle that those entering into or...

 again claiming that it had ceased performing new plural marriages. By 1910 the LDS Church excommunicated those who entered into, or performed, new plural marriages. Even so, many plural husbands and wives continued to cohabit until their deaths in the 1940s and 1950s. The last documented mainstream LDS polygamous marriage was the grandfather of current LDS apostle Eyring, Edward Eyring, and two distant cousins of Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
Willard Mitt Romney is an American businessman and politician. He was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and is a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination.The son of George W...

. One of the cousins died in 1954, turning the marriage into a monogamous one.
Fundamentalist Mormonism

Enforcement of the 1890 Manifesto caused various splinter groups
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 to leave the LDS Church in order to continue the practice of plural marriage. Polygamy among these groups persists today in Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

 and neighboring states as well as in the spin-off colonies. Polygamist churches of Mormon origin are often referred to as "Mormon fundamentalist" even though they are not a part of the LDS Church. Such fundamentalists often use a purported 1886 revelation
1886 Revelation
In the Mormon fundamentalist movement, the 1886 Revelation is the text of a revelation said to have been received by John Taylor, third President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , that is claimed to restate the permanence of the principle of plural marriage...

 to John Taylor
John Taylor (1808-1887)
John Taylor was the third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1880 to 1887. He is the only president of the LDS Church to have been born outside of the United States....

 as the basis for their authority to continue the practice of plural marriage. The Salt Lake Tribune stated in 2005 there were as many as 37,000 fundamentalists with less than half of them living in polygamous households.

Islam



In Islam, polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

 is allowed, with the specific limitation that a man can have up to four wives at any one time. The Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 clearly states that men who choose this route must deal with their wives justly. If the husband fears that he cannot deal with his wives justly, then he should only marry one. The Qur'an does not give preference in marrying more than one wife but allows it to make it easier on a woman that has no support. Islamic scholars opinion that the husband must tell the first wife if he wants to marry another. A husband does not have to have permission from his first wife.
Women, on the other hand, are only allowed to marry one husband, although they are allowed to remarry after a divorce. Although many Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 countries still retain traditional Islamic law
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 which permits polygamy, secular elements within some Muslim societies challenge its acceptability. Polygamy is prohibited by law in some Muslim-majority countries that have not adopted Islamic law for marital regulations, such as Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

.

Polygamy, and laws concerning polygamy, differ greatly throughout the Islamic world and form a very complex and diverse background from nation to nation. Whereas in some Muslim countries it may be fairly common, in most others it is often rare or non-existent. According to traditional Islamic law, a man may take up to four wives, and each of those wives must have her own property, assets, and dowry
Dowry
A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

. Usually the wives have little to no contact with each other and lead separate, individual lives in their own houses, and sometimes in different cities, though they all share the same husband. Polygamy is an exception rather than the rule and is traditionally restricted to men who can manage things, and in some countries it is illegal for a man to marry multiple wives if he is unable to afford to take care of each of them properly.

In the modern Islamic world, polygamy is mainly found in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, and West and East Africa; in Sudan it is encouraged by the president as the female population is high. Among the 22 member states of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 alone explicitly prohibits polygamy; however, it is generally frowned upon in many of the more secularized Arab states, such as Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. Few other countries including Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 and Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 require the written permission of the first wife if her husband wishes to marry a second, third, or fourth wife. In Morocco it is the written notification of the first wife and not necessarily the consent that is needed.

Polygamy by country



In countries that do not permit polygamy, the practice is considered bigamy
Bigamy
In cultures that practice marital monogamy, bigamy is the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another. Bigamy is a crime in most western countries, and when it occurs in this context often neither the first nor second spouse is aware of the other...

. In countries where polygamy is outlawed, consent from a prior spouse makes no difference to the validity of the second marriage and the second marriage is considered legally null and void. Laws usually do exist to protect the rights of an unsuspecting second spouse and any children from the otherwise invalid marriage.

Africa


Polygamy existed all over Africa as an aspect of culture or/and religion. Plural marriages have been more common than not in the history of Africa
History of Africa
The history of Africa begins with the prehistory of Africa and the emergence of Homo sapiens in East Africa, continuing into the present as a patchwork of diverse and politically developing nation states. Agriculture began about 10,000 BCE and metallurgy in about 4000 BCE. The history of early...

. Many African societies saw children as a form of wealth thus the more children a family had the more powerful it was. Thus polygamy was part of empire building. It was only during the colonial era that plural marriage was perceived as taboo. Esther Stanford, an African-focused lawyer, states that this decline was encouraged because the issues of property ownership conflicted with European colonial interest. Polygamy is very common in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

. However, the diffusion of Islam to this region has decreased the prevalence of polygamy in this region, due to restrictions on number of wives.

Kenya


Polygamy is widespread in Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, the most prominent individual being Akuku Danger
Akuku Danger
Ancentus Ogwella Akuku was widely regarded as Kenya's most prominent polygamist.Nicknamed "Danger" because women were so attracted by his handsome looks, Ancentus Akuku was in his late 90s when he died of natural causes. He died on October 3, 2010, aged 94, after a short illness...

 who married over 100 wives.

Nigeria


After a BBC television interview with Mohammed Bello Abubakar
Mohammed Bello Abubakar
Mohammed Bello Abubakar, also known as Mohammed Bello Masaba, was an 84-year old Nigerian man who stirred up controversy in his hometown of Bida, Niger State, when he married 86 wives, and fathered 170 children. Islamic scholars limit the number of wives a Muslim man can have to four wives,...

, articles were published in newspapers around the world about his 86 wives and 170 children, and he faced the death penalty under Sharia law if he did not divorce 82 of them.

South Africa


In South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, traditionalists commonly practice polygamy. The president, Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is the President of South Africa, elected by parliament following his party's victory in the 2009 general election....

 is also openly in favor of plural marriages, being married to three wives himself. He has a total of twenty nine children with these and four previous wives.

Sudan


Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has encouraged multiple marriages to increase the population.

Asia


The Chinese culture of Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 and thus the practice of polygamy spread from China to Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 and areas that are now Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. Before their modernizations, East Asian countries permitted similar practices of polygamy.

A 2011 opinion poll showed that most Malaysians and Indonesians youth opposed polygamy. The results were considered "remarkable" given that the youth were otherwise religiously conservative (those surveyed advocated the hijab
Hijab
The word "hijab" or "'" refers to both the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women and modest Muslim styles of dress in general....

 for women, and opposed premarital sex).

South Asia


Polygyny, permitted under Islamic law
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

, is present amongst some Muslims in South Asia.

Polygamy is illegal in India for Hindus and other religious groups under the Hindu marriage Act
Hindu Marriage Act
The Hindu Marriage Act was established in 1955 as part of the Hindu Code Bills. Three other important acts were also created during this time and they include the Hindu Succession Act , the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act , and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act...

. It remains legal for Muslims under the terms of The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937, as interpreted by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board
All India Muslim Personal Law Board
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is an organization constituted in 1973 to adopt suitable strategies for the protection and continued applicability of Muslim Personal Law in India, most importantly, the The Muslim Personal Law Application Act of 1937, providing for the application of the...

. .

Polygamy is generally quite rare in urban areas, and among the cosmopolitan middle classes.

Thailand


Until polygamy was outlawed by King Rama VI
Vajiravudh
Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramentharamaha Vajiravudh Phra Mongkut Klao Chao Yu Hua , or Phra Bat Somdet Phra Ramathibodi Si Sintharamaha Vajiravudh Phra Mongkut Klao Chao Yu Hua , or Rama VI was the sixth monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri, ruling from 1910 until his death...

, it was expected that wealthy or upper-class Thai men were historically recognized to maintain mansions consisting of multiple wives and their children in the same residence. Among the royalty and courtiers in the past, wives were classified as principal, secondary, and slave. Today, the tradition of minor wives still remains, but the practice is different from that of the past. Due to the expense involved, minor wives are mostly limited to the wealthy men. While a "proper woman" (Kulasatrii; Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

: กุลสตรี) must remain faithful to her husband, there were no equivalent rules in history mandating fidelity in the "virtuous man."

Regardless of the historical acceptance, male polygamy or plural marriage
Plural marriage
Polygamy was taught by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more than half of the 19th century, and practiced publicly from 1852 to 1890.The Church's practice of polygamy has been highly controversial, both within...

 is no longer legally or socially acceptable in the contemporary Thai society. However, the practice of having "minor wives" (Mia-Noi: เมียน้อย) continues in modern days in secrecy from the "primary wife" (Mia-Luang: เมียหลวง). Almost all married Thai women today object to this practice, and indeed for many it has been grounds for divorce. Minor wives are viewed with contempt by the Thai society along the lines of being amoral women or home breakers.

China


Technically, ever since the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

, it had been unlawful for Chinese men to have more than one wife. However, throughout the history of imperial China, it had been common for the rich and influential Chinese men to have one wife and various concubines
Concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

. Polygamy in China is considered to be a by-product of the tradition of emphasis on procreation and the continuity of the father's family name. Although the establishment of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 made it explicitly unlawful for a man to have multiple spouses/concubines, such legislation were generally not enforced, especially among the societal elites who were most likely to live such lifestyles. The most serious changes occurred during and after the Communist Revolution, where traditions considered backward and feudal (such as concubinage, foot-binding, slavery, prostitution, etc.) were thoroughly outlawed and severely punished for. It is illegal in modern China to have more than one spouse for either sex. Polygamy is only usually seen in southwest China among Chinese minorities such as Tibetans etc.
Hong Kong

In Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, polygamy was banned in October 1971. Some Hong Kong businessmen have concubines across the border in mainland China, but concubines do not have the legal or social status of wives and so this should not strictly be called "polygamy". Kevin Murphy of The International Herald Tribune reports the cross-border polygyny phenomenon in Hong Kong in 1995.

The traditional attitude toward mistresses is reflected in the saying: "wife is not as good as concubine, concubine is not as good as prostitute, prostitute is not as good as secret affair, secret affair is not as good as the affair you want but can't get" (妻不如妾, 妾不如妓, 妓不如偷, 偷不如偷不著).

United States


David Friedman
David D. Friedman
David Director Friedman is an American economist, author, and Right-libertarian theorist. He is known as a leader in anarcho-capitalist political theory, which is the subject of his most popular book, The Machinery of Freedom...

 and Steve Sailer
Steve Sailer
Steven Ernest Sailer is an American journalist and movie critic for The American Conservative, a blogger, a VDARE.com columnist, and a former correspondent for UPI. He writes about race relations, gender issues, politics, immigration, IQ, genetics, movies, and sports.-Personal life:Sailer grew up...

 have argued that polygamy tends to benefit most women and disadvantage most men, under the assumption that most men and women do not practice it. The idea is firstly that many women would prefer half or one third of someone especially appealing to being the single spouse of someone that does not provide as much economic utility to them. Secondly, that the remaining women have a better market for finding a spouse themselves. Say that 20% of women are married to 10% of men, that leaves 90% of men to compete over the remaining 80% of women. Friedman uses this viewpoint to argue in favor of legalizing polygamy, while Sailer uses it to argue against legalizing it.

In the US, the Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

 supports complete decriminalization of polygamy as part of a general belief that the government should not regulate marriages.

Individualist feminism
Individualist feminism
Individualist feminism is a term for feminist ideas which seek to celebrate or protect the individual woman....

 and advocates such as Wendy McElroy
Wendy McElroy
Wendy McElroy is a Canadian individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982.-Sex-positive:...

 also support the freedom for adults to voluntarily enter polygamous marriages.

The American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 of Utah, USA, is opposed to Utah's law against cohabitation
Cohabitation
Cohabitation usually refers to an arrangement whereby two people decide to live together on a long-term or permanent basis in an emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationship. The term is most frequently applied to couples who are not married...

.

Those who advocate a Federal Marriage Amendment
Federal Marriage Amendment
The Federal Marriage Amendment H.J. Res. 56 was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution which would have limited marriage in the United States to unions of one man and one woman...

 to the American Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

 generally word their proposed laws to also prohibit polygamy. Many proponents of same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

 are also in favour of maintaining current statutory prohibitions against polygamy.

Stanley Kurtz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, lamented the modern arguments increasingly being made by various intellectuals who call for de-criminalizing polygamy. Kurtz concluded, "Marriage, as its ultramodern critics would like to say, is indeed about choosing one's partner, and about freedom in a society that values freedom. But that's not the only thing it is about. As the Supreme Court justices who unanimously decided Reynolds in 1878 understood, marriage is also about sustaining the conditions in which freedom can thrive. Polygamy in all its forms is a recipe for social structures that inhibit and ultimately undermine social freedom and democracy. A hard-won lesson of Western history is that genuine democratic self-rule begins at the hearth of the monogamous family."

Nazi Germany


In Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, there was an effort by Martin Bormann
Martin Bormann
Martin Ludwig Bormann was a prominent Nazi official. He became head of the Party Chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler...

 and Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 to introduce new legislation concerning plural marriage. The argument ran that after the war, 3 to 4 million women would have to remain unmarried due to the great number of soldiers fallen in battle. In order to make it possible for these women to have children, a procedure for application and selection for suitable men (i.e. decorated war heroes) to enter a marital relationship with an additional woman was planned. The privileged position of the first wife was to be secured by awarding her the title Domina
Dominus (title)
Dominus is the Latin word for master or owner. As a title of sovereignty the term under the Roman Republic had all the associations of the Greek Tyrannos; refused during the early principate, it finally became an official title of the Roman Emperors under Diocletian...

.

Science fiction, utopias, dystopias


A number of writers have expressed their views on polygamy by writing about a fictional world in which it is the most common type of relationship. These worlds tend to be utopian or dystopian in nature.

For instance, Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

 uses this theme in a number of novels, such as Stranger in a Strange Land
Stranger in a Strange Land
Stranger in a Strange Land is a 1961 science fiction novel by American author Robert A. Heinlein. It tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who comes to Earth in early adulthood after being born on the planet Mars and raised by Martians. The novel explores his interaction with—and...

, as well as his later works such as Time Enough for Love
Time Enough for Love
Time Enough for Love is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published in 1973. The work was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1973 and both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1974.-Plot:...

, Number of the Beast
Number of the Beast
The Number of the Beast is a term in the Book of Revelation, of the New Testament, that is associated with the first Beast of Revelation chapter 13, the Beast of the sea. In most manuscripts of the New Testament and in English translations of the Bible, the number of the Beast is...

, and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls: A Comedy of Manners is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein published in 1985. Like many of his later novels, it features Lazarus Long and Jubal Harshaw as supporting characters.-Plot summary:...

.


Conversely, Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber
Fritz Reuter Leiber, Jr. was an American writer of fantasy, horror and science fiction. He was also a poet, actor in theatre and films, playwright, expert chess player and a champion fencer. Possibly his greatest chess accomplishment was winning clear first in the 1958 Santa Monica Open.. With...

 explores polyandry in a 1951 story, Nice Girl with Five Husbands.

Polygamy is practiced by the Fremen in Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert
Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune and its five sequels...

's Dune
Dune (novel)
Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert, published in 1965. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel...

as a means to pinpoint male infertility. It is socially accepted as long as the man provides for all wives equally. Cultures described within the Dune
Dune universe
Dune is a science fiction franchise which originated with the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Considered by many to be the greatest science fiction novel of all time, Dune is frequently cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history...

 novel series have intentional similarities to Islamic, Arab, and other cultures – i.e. desert cultures.

Similarly, the Aiel
Aiel
In Robert Jordan's fantasy series The Wheel of Time, the Aiel are a race of people. They live between the "wetlanders" in the west and the Sharans in the east, in a desert which the Aiel call The Three-fold Land and which everyone else calls the Aiel Waste. They have earned a reputation as skilled...

 society in Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan was the pen name of James Oliver Rigney, Jr. , under which he was best known as the author of the bestselling The Wheel of Time fantasy series. He also wrote under the pseudonyms Reagan O'Neal and Jackson O'Reilly.-Biography:Jordan was born in Charleston, South Carolina...

's The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time is a series of epic fantasy novels written by American author James Oliver Rigney, Jr., under the pen name Robert Jordan. Originally planned as a six-book series, the length was increased by increments; at the time of Rigney's death, he expected it to be 12, but it will actually...

series practice a form of polygamy, in which multiple women may marry the same man; in that fictional culture, women are the ones who propose marriage. Among Aiel, sisters or very close friends who have adopted each other as sisters, will often marry the same man, so that he will not come between them.

Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is an American author. She has written novels, poetry, children's books, essays, and short stories, notably in fantasy and science fiction...

 describes a planet O, where the cultural norm is a "sedoretu" or four-person marriage (a set combination of both genders and sexual orientations).

Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons is an American author most widely known for his Hugo Award-winning science fiction series, known as the Hyperion Cantos, and for his Locus-winning Ilium/Olympos cycle....

 describes a culture of three-person marriages (any gender ratio) in his book Endymion
Endymion (Hyperion Cantos)
Endymion is the third science fiction novel by Dan Simmons in his Hyperion Cantos fictional universe. Centered around the new characters Aenea and Endymion, it has been well received like Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion - within a year of its release, the paperback edition had gone through five...

.

In David Weber
David Weber
David Mark Weber is an American science fiction and fantasy author. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Weber and his wife Sharon live in Greenville, South Carolina with their three children and "a passel of dogs"....

's Honor Harrington
Honorverse
The Honorverse refers to the military science fiction book series and sub-series created by David Weber and published by Baen Books. The series is set primarily after Honor Harrington's October 1, 3961, birth; although she is the protagonist in most of the stories, more recent entries make only...

series, the inhabitants of the planet Grayson practice polygamy (polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

) due to the human colonists to the planet acquiring a genetic defect that gave rise to a large women-to-men birth ratio combined with a high infant mortality
Infant mortality
Infant mortality is defined as the number of infant deaths per 1000 live births. Traditionally, the most common cause worldwide was dehydration from diarrhea. However, the spreading information about Oral Re-hydration Solution to mothers around the world has decreased the rate of children dying...

. Honor Harrington
Honor Harrington
Honor Stephanie Alexander-Harrington is a fictional character, the heroine of a series of military science fiction books set in the "Honorverse", written by David Weber and published by Baen Books....

 herself is married to Hamish Alexander
Hamish Alexander
Admiral of the Green Hamish Alexander-Harrington, Thirteenth Earl of White Haven, is a fictional character in the Honorverse, a series of military science fiction novels written by David Weber....

 as his second wife alongside Emily Alexander
Emily Alexander
Emily Alexander is a fictional character in the Honorverse, a series of military science fiction novels written by David Weber.She is the wife of First Lord of the Admiralty Hamish Alexander, Earl of White Haven and Admiral Honor Harrington-Alexander, Duchess and Steadholder Harrington. She is...

. Their surname then becomes Alexander-Harrington.

Wen Spencer
Wen Spencer
Wen Spencer is an American Science fiction and fantasy writer whose books center around characters with unusual abilities, and which might be regarded as original variations on the standard vampire and werewolf themes. In 2003, she was the winner of the John W...

's science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 novel A Brother's Price describes a society where men are very rare and protected, and multiple sisters typically marry one man. In the novel Ruins of Isis, mention is made of a culture where a type of group marriage is performed-a group of 4 people minimum, two men, two women to start.

In the Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

 television series Enterprise
Star Trek: Enterprise
Star Trek: Enterprise is a science fiction television series. It follows the adventures of humanity's first warp 5 starship, the Enterprise, ten years before the United Federation of Planets shown in previous Star Trek series was formed.Enterprise premiered on September 26, 2001...

, the ship's physician, Dr. Phlox (who is a Denobulan) has three wives, each of whom has three husbands of her own (including him). One of his wives seemed to be interested in having extramarital relations with a human, which Phlox himself did not oppose, and even encouraged. It has also been stated that the Andorian
Andorian
Andorians are a fictional race of humanoid extraterrestrials created by D. C. Fontana for the Star Trek universe. They are native to the icy M-class moon Andoria , which orbits a blue, ringed gas giant. Definitive traits include their blue skin, a pair of cranial antennae, and white hair...

 species enter into group marriage
Group marriage
Group marriage, also known as multi-lateral marriage, is a form of polyamory in which more than two persons form a family unit, with all the members of the group marriage being considered to be married to all the other members of the group marriage, and all members of the marriage share parental...

s (although whether this is due to societal custom or biological necessity has not been established onscreen, but left to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine relaunch
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine relaunch
The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine relaunch is an unofficial name for a series of non-canon novels released since 2000 detailing events involving the characters, species and settings portrayed in the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine....

 original novels.)

In the Sci-Fi television series Babylon 5
Babylon 5
Babylon 5 is an American science fiction television series created, produced and largely written by J. Michael Straczynski. The show centers on a space station named Babylon 5: a focal point for politics, diplomacy, and conflict during the years 2257–2262...

the Centauris allow for men to have more than one wife. In Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

Expanded Universe
Star Wars Expanded Universe
The Star Wars Expanded Universe encompasses all of the officially licensed, fictional background of the Star Wars universe, outside of the six feature films produced by George Lucas. The expanded universe includes books, comic books, video games, spin-off films like Star Wars: The Clone Wars,...

, it is explained that Cereans (like Ki-Adi-Mundi
Ki-Adi-Mundi
Ki-Adi-Mundi is a fictional character from the Star Wars universe. He was portrayed by actor Silas Carson in each of the films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy...

) have a much higher birth-rate of girls than boys. Thus, every male Cerean must have one wife and multiple "honor wives", to increase the chance of giving birth to another male. Jedi Cerean Ki-Adi-Mundi was allowed to marry multiple times, although Jedi were not supposed to marry at his time; but Ki-Adi-Mundi got a dispense of that norm.

Prehistoric and historic fiction


Jean M. Auel
Jean M. Auel
Jean Marie Auel is an American writer. She is best known for her Earth's Children books, a series of novels set in prehistoric Europe that explores interactions of Cro-Magnon people with Neanderthals...

 in the pre-historic Earth's Children
Earth's Children
Earth's Children is a series of speculative alternative historical fiction novels written by Jean M. Auel set circa 30,000 years before present. There are six novels in the series...

series depicted several instances of "co-mating," where a person could have more than one mate. Examples included the headwoman Tulie in the Mammoth Hunters, and a man who married a pair of twins in the Shelters of Stone. Also of note was Vincavec, the headman of the Mammoth Camp who wished to mate with the protagonist Ayla
Ayla (Earth's Children)
Ayla is the main character of Jean Auel's Earth's Children novels. She is an early homo sapiens woman who was raised by Neanderthals.Ayla was played by Daryl Hannah in the 1986 movie The Clan of the Cave Bear...

 and was willing to take her Promised, Ranec, implying a bisexual relationship as well.

In the Chinese
Culture of China
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest and most complex. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces...

 Wuxia
Wuxia
Wuxia is a broad genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists. Although wuxia is traditionally a form of literature, its popularity has caused it to spread to diverse art forms like Chinese opera, manhua , films, television series, and video games...

novel The Deer and the Cauldron
The Deer and the Cauldron
The Deer and the Cauldron, also known as The Duke of Mount Deer, is a novel by Jin Yong, and was the last of Jin Yong's works. The novel was initially published as a serial, and ran between October 24, 1969 to September 23, 1972 in Ming Pao.Although the book is often termed as a wuxia novel, it is...

by Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 writer Louis Cha, set in the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 era during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor
Kangxi Emperor
The Kangxi Emperor ; Manchu: elhe taifin hūwangdi ; Mongolian: Энх-Амгалан хаан, 4 May 1654 –20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the first to be born on Chinese soil south of the Pass and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1661 to 1722.Kangxi's...

, the protagonist Wei Xiaobao
Wei Xiaobao
Wei Xiaobao is the fictional protagonist of Jin Yong's wuxia novel The Deer and the Cauldron . He is a witty, sly and illiterate teenager, born to a prostitute from a brothel in Yangzhou during the Qing Dynasty. He bumbles his way into the Forbidden City and has a fateful encounter with the young...

 has seven wives. The novel has spawned numerous film and TV series adaptations since the 1960s.

Contemporary setting


Random House published David Ebershoff
David Ebershoff
David Ebershoff is an American-born writer, editor, and teacher.-Biography:Born in Pasadena, California, he is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Chicago, and studied at Keio University in Tokyo....

's novel The 19th Wife
The 19th wife
The 19th Wife is the international bestselling novel by David Ebershoff. Inspired by the life of Ann Eliza Young, the novel intertwines a historical narrative with a modern-day murder mystery. A television movie adaptation aired on Lifetime on September 13, 2010, starring Matt Czuchry, Patricia...

in 2008. It is about Ann Eliza Young
Ann Eliza Young
Ann Eliza Young also known as Ann Eliza Webb Dee Young Denning was one of Brigham Young's fifty-five wives and later a critic of polygamy...

, one of Brigham Young's wives, and the legacy of Mormon polygamy in the United States today. A Home at the End of the World
A Home at the End of the World
A Home at the End of the World is a 1990 novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Michael Cunningham.The book is narrated in the first person, with the narrator changing in each chapter. Bobby and Jonathan are the main narrators, but several chapters are narrated by Alice, Jonathan's mother,...

is a novel by Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham is an American writer, best known for his 1998 novel The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999.-Early life and education:...

 about a polygamous family. It was later adapted into a film. Both explore issues of homosexuality and families. Big Love
Big Love
Big Love is an American television drama that aired on HBO between March 2006 and March 2011. The show is about a fictional fundamentalist Mormon family in Utah that practices polygamy...

is an HBO series about a polygamous family in Utah in the first decade of the 21st century. In the series, Bill Henrickson
Bill Henrickson
William Orville "Bill" Henrickson is the fictional protagonist husband in a polygamous family in the HBO series Big Love, portrayed by Bill Paxton. He is married to three wives, Barbara Henrickson, Nicolette Grant and Margene Heffman...

 has three wives and eight children, who belong to a fundamentalist Mormon splinter group. Big Love explores the complex legal, moral, and religious issues associated with polygamy in Utah. Henrickson's three wives each have separate houses beside one another, with a shared backyard. By outward appearances, he lives with his primary wife, and has two "friends" living close by, while in reality taking turns sleeping at a different house each night. Henrickson effectively balances his work, the continuing demands of his wives, and his wives' relatives.

In September 2010 TLC
TLC (TV channel)
TLC is an American cable TV specialty channel which initially focused on educational content. Since 1991 TLC has been owned by Discovery Communications, the same company that operates the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and The Science Channel, as well as other learning-themed networks...

 premiered a reality television series entitled Sister Wives, which deals with polygamy by a self-described fundamentalist Mormon family in modern day Utah. On July 13, 2011, the show's husband and his wives filed a complaint in United States District Court to challenge Utah's law against polygamy.

See also

  • Hypergamy
    Hypergamy
    Hypergamy is the act or practice of seeking a spouse of higher socioeconomic status, or caste status than oneself....

  • Marriage (conflict)#Polygamy
  • More danico
    More danico
    The phrase more danico is a Mediaeval Latin legalistic expression which may be translated as "in the Danish manner" or "by Norse customary law". It designates a type of traditional Germanic marriage practiced in northern Europe during the Middle Ages....

  • Polyandry
    Polyandry
    Polyandry refers to a form of marriage in which a woman has two or more husbands at the same time. The form of polyandry in which a woman is married to two or more brothers is known as "fraternal polyandry", and it is believed by many anthropologists to be the most frequently encountered...

  • Promiscuity
    Promiscuity
    In humans, promiscuity refers to less discriminating casual sex with many sexual partners. The term carries a moral or religious judgement and is viewed in the context of the mainstream social ideal for sexual activity to take place within exclusive committed relationships...

  • Triad (relationship)

External links