In a world where we are surrounded by patriarchal ideas and ways of life, there are a few societies in the world that draw their lineage from the women in their family. These societies are also known as Matriliny. Matrilineal societies are found in various parts of the world like Africa, Southeast Asia and India.Though these societies are similar in some ways each have their own cultural practices. Here are some examples of Matriliny societies –
Nairs are an Indian Hindu caste from the state of Kerala, with many division and subdivision. Historically Nairs lived in joint families units known as Tharavads that housed descendants of one particular female ancestor. Many of their practices such has polyandry are no longer followed but the the community still draws its lineage from the woman of the family.
Many but not all Akan people to this day follow the matrilineal system. Their economical and political set up in based on matrilineal lineage which are the basis for inheritance and succession. However men do hold certain leadership positions in the community.
Mosuo are from Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in China, close to the border of Tibet. These women are China’s last surviving matriarchy. There are about 40,000 of them. The Mosuo women don’t marry and if they do have a partner they live separately. The child lives with the mother and hence she plays the primary role in the upbringing of the child, the children have access to their mothers land and resources. Sometimes they don’t know who the father of a child is but it is not viewed as a stigma as it would be in other societies. The matriarch or the eldest woman of the house has the absolute power, she makes the financial decisions and also decides who will be her successor.
Minangkabau are the largest surviving matriarchy of the world with around four million people as of 2017. Their property, land and family name passes on from mothers to their daughters but religious and political affairs are taken care by men. Even though people of the community get married they must have different sleeping quarters.
5. UMOJA (KENYA)
Umoja located near the town of Archers post, Samburu County, is an all women matriarchal village where no men are allowed. It was found by Rebecca Lolosoli, a Samburu woman. Umoja is a sanctuary for woman who are survivors of violence and young girls running away from forced marriage. They work to educate people about their rights.
Khasi are an ethnic group of people from the Indian state of Meghalaya. They follow matrilineal system of descent and inheritance and are of significantly large number. Mothers and mother-in-laws the only people allowed to look after children and according to some sources men aren’t even allowed to attend family functions. After marriage the surname of the woman is passed on to the next generation.