/kooh vahd"/; Fr. /kooh vannd"/, n.
a practice among some peoples, as the Basques of Spain, in which a man, immediately preceding the birth of his child, takes to his bed in an enactment of the birth experience and subjects himself to various taboos usually associated with pregnancy.
[1860-65; < F (now obs.), lit., a hatching, sitting on eggs, equiv. to couv(er) to hatch ( < L cubare to lie down) + -ade -ADE1; cf. COVEY]

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▪ childbirth rite
      (from French couver “to hatch”) ritual behaviour undertaken, usually by a man, during or around the birth (parturition) of a child. Historically, couvade has been poorly defined; it has encompassed practices that are quite divergent in terms of timing, participants, activity, and cause.

      Ethnographic (ethnography) examples of couvade have been known to co-occur with pregnancy, parturition, the postpartum period, and even annual festivals celebrating male reenactments of birth. Observers have recorded instances of couvade by biological fathers, other men, women, and children. Examples of ritual behaviour have included a man's taking to his bed or dressing in his wife's clothing during her labour and delivery, a new father's being bound or bandaged in the same manner as a postpartum mother, and a father's pre- or postpartum avoidance of specific foods or activities (most commonly sexual intercourse or heavy exertion), in some cases for a period of years.

      Anthropological (anthropology) interpretations of couvade have shifted over time and have generally reflected the major theoretical standpoint of the era. In the 19th century, cultural evolutionists (cultural evolution), who posited that primordial societies were matriarchal (matriarchy), suggested that couvade was a relic of the transition to patriarchy. Early 20th-century functionalists (functionalism) held that it was a method through which fathers publicly accepted the legitimacy of their children. By the 1970s, psychological anthropologists were citing Sigmund Freud (Freud, Sigmund)'s theories, suggesting that men in matrilineal cultures carry an intrinsic envy of their mother's status as the core persona of the household and that men overcame that envy and internalized their true, masculine role only by reenacting the work of motherhood. Most of these interpretations considered couvade the act of an individual rather than viewing it as embedded in a larger cultural milieu.

      However, by the end of the 20th century researchers had begun to question whether couvade should be viewed as part of a wider ritual cycle surrounding human reproduction and development or, alternatively, if such behaviours are enacted more generally, during periods of liminality or propagation. Both of these situations have been shown to be true, sometimes within a single culture. An example of the former occurs among the Lesu of Melanesia (Melanesian culture): Lesu men traditionally avoid certain foods before the birth of their children, and the community as a whole engages in similar avoidance when its young people experience passage rites (rite of passage) such as initiation or marriage. Lesu couvade behaviour also applies to nonhuman propagation: while a child's parents avoid sexual intercourse after its birth, the community as a whole avoids intercourse during the pig-farrowing season.

      Among the Garifuna of Honduras, fathers abstain from fishing, complex construction activities (such as building a house), and heavy exertion during the postpartum period. Garifuna people explain that this parental behaviour is essential for proper infant development: a child receives food from its mother (in the form of breast milk) but gains its life force directly from its father, through a spiritual umbilicus. Thus, a new father must avoid activities that will “spend” his vigour, because such expenditures may cause his child to fall weak and die. If a new father accidentally engages in an activity that causes him to sweat—sweat being the physical manifestation of vigour—he must rub the fluid on the child's body so that the energy is passed along to the child rather than dissipated into the atmosphere. Garifuna men also rub perspiration onto their older children as a curative.

Elizabeth Prine Pauls

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • COUVADE — Rochefort, un observateur français des indigènes caraïbes des Antilles, baptisa «couvade», au XVIIe siècle, un ensemble de rites accomplis par le mari pendant la grossesse, l’accouchement de l’épouse et la période post natale. «Au même temps que… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Couvade — Cou vade (k[=oo] v[.a]d ), n. [F., fr. couver. See {Covey}.] A custom, among certain barbarous tribes, that when a woman gives birth to a child her husband takes to his bed, as if ill. [1913 Webster] The world wide custom of the couvade, where at …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Couvade —   [ku vaːdə; zu französisch couver »brüten«, von lateinisch cubare »(im Bett) liegen«] die, / n, Männerkindbett.   * * * Cou|va|de [ku va:də], die; , n [frz. couvade, zu: couver < lat. cubare = (im Bett) liegen] (Völkerk.): (bei bestimmten… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Couvade — (franz., spr. kuwād , »Bebrütung«), s. Männerkindbett …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Couvade — Couvāde (frz., spr. kuw ), Männerkindbett, die Sitte bei manchen Indianerstämmen, Neger und asiat. Völkern, auch bei den Basken, daß statt der Wöchnerin deren Ehemann ein Wochenlager abhält. – Vgl. Ploß (1871 u. 1882) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • couvade — Costumbre de algunas culturas no occidentales por medio de la cual el marido realiza un parto simulado mientras la mujer da a luz. Diccionario Mosby Medicina, Enfermería y Ciencias de la Salud, Ediciones Hancourt, S.A. 1999 …   Diccionario médico

  • couvade — [ko͞o väd′] n. [Fr < couver, to hatch < OFr cover: see COVEY] a custom of some societies, as the Carib Indians, in which the father of a child just born engages in certain rites, such as resting in bed, as if he had borne the child …   English World dictionary

  • Couvade — The term couvade is derived from the early French word ( Couver to hatch ) and originally referred to the medieval Basque custom in which the father, during or immediately after the birth of a child, took to bed, complained of having labour pains …   Wikipedia

  • Couvade — Das so genannte Männerkindbett (französisch Couvade [kuˈvaːd]) ist ein Brauch, der unter verschiedenen Naturvölkern verbreitet war und zum Teil noch ist. Dabei übernimmt der Vater des Neugeborenen bestimmte Verhaltens und Fastenpflichten, während …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Couvade — La couvade désigne une coutume, d abord observée dans le Pays basque médiéval, où un futur père, peu avant l accouchement de sa femme, se met au lit, imite la grossesse et se plaint des douleurs de l enfantement, tandis qu on lui accorde le… …   Wikipédia en Français

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