Eskimo Wife-Swapping: Hunting Companions Sleep With One's Wife To Ease Her Loneliness

Hanima Anand |Dec 03, 2020

This is a deep-rooted custom in some Eskimo groups who spend most time on hunting. To show appreciation towards each other, it’s normal for companions to share wives with each other.

Believe it or not, Eskimos are not only accustomed to polygamy but also willing to share wife with their hunting brothers. And the reasons behind this bizarre tradition are quite interesting.

Friends can sleep with one’s wife to ease her loneliness

In Eskimo cultures, sharing is highly encouraged given the harsh conditions where they reside. Spending most time on hunting which involves lots of dangers, Eskimo men are very generous towards those accompanying them on the hunting trips. These companions are regarded as brothers in their family.

Eskimo Men
When an Eskimo man is out for hunting, his friends may drop by and sleep with his wife.

Accordingly, Eskimos often share food, supplies, and almost everything with their hunting companions, even wives. That an Eskimo man offers his wife to such so-called brothers is a form of showing respect and appreciation towards those people.

However, Eskimo wife-swapping or also known as spouse exchange has more additional implications than just a sharing manner.

As mentioned earlier, an Eskimo man spends the most time outside hunting, so his woman is left alone at home. His friends, therefore, will drop by to give his wife a favor to ease her loneliness. In other words, sleeping with their friends’ wives when husbands are out is considered a goodwill gesture.

Eskimo Women
Eskimo women can offer themselves to strangers without any social taboo.

In another case, there exists a wife-swapping custom in which two couples exchange partners with each other in agreement. This can be considered a co-marriage instead of polygamy.

However, the Eskimo wife-swapping tradition is not that common for all people here. Research shows that it takes place occasionally in certain areas. The custom has never been made widespread as many sources may claim.

Other interesting facts about Eskimos’ love life

Besides wife-swapping, there are many other strange customs in the Eskimos communities.

Eskimo Children
It doesn't matter who is their biological father, Eskimo kids are loved and raised by the entire community.

Because Eskimo men may sleep with their friends’ wives as a tradition, it is possible that women here would become pregnant with a child that isn’t her husband’s. But it’s totally normal.

In fact, wives and kids are considered communal in Eskimo society. Therefore, no matter whose child a woman is bearing, her family will love and raise the kid as their own. Especially, it’s also common that another family give a childless household a kid.

Another fact about Eskimo love life that baffles Asian people is the encouragement of pre-marital intercourse. There’s nothing called virginity in an Eskimo’s dictionary. Eskimo parents never worry if their teenage children spend a night at a vacant igloo even when they know the teenagers are spending time there as a couple or member of a larger party.

Finally, let’s talk about the famous Eskimo kisses which involve two people rubbing each other’s nose as a sign of affection. Indeed, the Eskimo kiss is not just seen among couples but also family members. To be specific, Eskimo mothers often sniff and rub their kids’ face with nose. In this case, an Eskimo kiss is simply a greeting gesture, or an action to show pure love in the family.

Eskimo Kiss
Eskimo kiss involves sniffing and rubbing the other's nose.

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