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. 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.
Patrilineal descent is traced through fathers rather than through mothers. 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. In matrilineal societies, women generally have a greater autonomy in terms of sexuality and reproduction than their counterparts in male dominated societies. 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).
The woman in a matrilineal society represents the clan and her children carry on the name of her clan. 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). 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.
The Minangkabau of
Indonesia, which is the largest matrilineal society in the world. Matrilineal
heredity is a core practice of the Amis of Taiwan.
The Lao of Thailand, is one of the few remaining societies in the world in which matrilocal residence and matrilineal inheritance still exist.
The Khasi tribe of India, The Garo tribe of Inida, The Bijagos of Guinea Bissau, The Mosuo tribe of China, The Balue of Cameroon, The Akans of Ghana, The Owambo tribe of Namibia are some of matrilinial societies existing today.
Mother's Brother in Matrilineal Societies : A Study of
ANGELICA QUEENIE LYNGDOH, research scholar in Department of Sociology, NEHU, Shillong.
A.K.NONGKYNRIH, Professor in the Department of Sociology, NEHU, Shillong.
Scholars are of the opinion that Mother's brother is of immense significance in matrilineal societies. His status and role is embedded and intrinsic to matrilineal social structure. As a male member of the matrilineal descent group, he represents the placement of men vis-a-vis women in matriliny. Under the matrilineal social arrangement he holds authority, role and responsibility towards matrilineal descent groups, particularly in matters concerning the affairs of his sister's children. The paper discusses the status and position of mother's brother in Khasi society.
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. 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.
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 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). 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. Matrilineal Society in India: - Dr. Madhumita Das.