Sociology Index

MATRILINEAL SOCIETIES

Matrilineal societies are societies in which descent is traced through mothers rather than through fathers. In matrilineal societies, property is often passed from mothers to daughters and the custom of matrilocal residence may be practiced. Patrilineal descent is traced through fathers rather than through mothers. Matrilineage is sometimes associated with polyandry or group marriage where women have a variety of sexual partners and lines of male descent are uncertain. In matrilineal societies, the descendants of men are their sister's children and not their own, who belong to their mother's matrilineage. Matrilineal societies existed in ancient times and matrilineal descent was recognised. Matrilineal descent is not the mirror image of patrilineal descent.

Matrilineal societies differ from both patrilineal and bilateral societies in that the institution of marriage tends to be, relatively weak (Schneider and Gough 1961, Goode 1963). In a gerontocratic matrilineal society, women's influence and prestige tended to increase with age and were usually expressed in informal settings, although there were offices of formalised informality such as mothers of matrilineages.

In a matrilineal society, women generally have a greater autonomy in terms of sexuality and reproduction than their counterparts in male dominated societies.
The woman in a matrilineal society represents the clan and her children carry on the name of her clan.

Land Inheritance and Schooling in Matrilineal Societies: Evidence from Sumatra - Agnes R. Quisumbing, and Keijiro Otsuka
Abstract: This paper explores statistically the implications of the shift from communal to individualized tenure on the distribution of land and schooling between sons and daughters in matrilineal societies, based on a Sumatra case study. The inheritance system is evolving from a strictly matrilineal system to a more egalitarian system in which sons and daughters inherit the type of land that is more intensive in their own work effort. While gender bias is either non-existent or small in land inheritance, daughters tend to be disadvantaged with respect to schooling. The gender gap in schooling appears to be closing for the generation of younger children.

Oppong, C. (1974) Marriage Among a Matrilineal Elite, Cambridge University Press.

Matrilineal Society in India: - Dr. Madhumita Das

When most of the people in the world follow the patrilineal system, there exist a few groups here and there who believed to be the descendants of Japheth (son of Noah), and are followers of the matrilineal society system (Syiemlieh, 1994).
The existence of matrilineal society is found among the tribes of African countries, in some part of Southeast Asia and among three groups of India. It is the Minangkabaus of West Sumatra, Indonesia, comprising the largest ethnic group in the world who follow a matrilineal society system (Tanius, 1983).
The matrilineal social system is found only among small pockets of south the and northeast India. The Nairs and Mappilles in Kerala, the tribal groups of Minicoy Island and the Khasis and the Garos of Meghalaya are the followers of matrilineal society system. The matrilineal society system of the African countries differs considerably from that of the Southeast Asian groups. Even within India, the system differs from one group to another (Kapadia, 1966).
The Khasis of Meghalaya, generally follow the residential pattern known as matrilocal residence, where the husband resides with his wife's matrilineal kin or in other case couples settle down together in a new residence in and around his wife's maternal place (neolocal residence).
We discuss the changes that are occurring among the only few existent matrilineal societies in terms of their attitudes and behavior. A multivariate analysis has been undertaken to substantiate the findings from bivariate analysis and to find out the factors, which brought changes among the society.
The term matriarchy or matriliny has become inseparably associated with the Khasi social organisation since it was first used in 1914 by Gurdon to describe Khasi social customs (Das. Gupta, 1964).