Concubinage refers to formal sexual relationships between a man and women who he is not officially married to. The term ‘concubine’ originally referred to women who were taken as slaves and then used for sexual purposes by their masters. Concubinage has existed in many cultures throughout history, including Ancient Greece, Rome, China, and the Ottoman Empire.
It is important to highlight practice is different from polygyny, which refers to situations where a man has more than one wife at the same time. In concubinage, the relationship between the man and woman is not considered to be equal to that of a husband and wife. Concubines typically had fewer rights than wives, and their children were often seen as inferior to offspring born within marriage. They also do not have the same inheritance rights as children born to the official wife (or wives) of the man in question.
Concubinage is also different from prostitution, as there is usually a mutual understanding between the man and woman involved, and the relationship is often long-term. Thus, it is a way of providing financial security for women of lower status who would not be suitable marriage partners.
Having concubines was an indicator of wealth and status. This is because only wealthy men could afford to have multiple wives and concubines. In some cultures, the number of concubines a man had was seen as a sign of his virility.
Today, concubinage is no longer socially acceptable in most parts of the world. It is seen as a form of exploitation, and it is illegal in many countries.
Polygamy: The practice of having more than one wife or husband at the same time.
Monogamy: The practice of having only one wife or husband at a time.
Bigamy: The practice of illegally having two wives or husbands at the same time.
Polygyny: The practice of having more than one wife at the same time.
Polyandry: The practice of having more than one husband at the same time.
Anthropology Glossary Terms starting with C
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. When you use one of these affiliate links, the company compensates us. At no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission, which helps us run this blog and keep our in-depth content free of charge for all our readers.