To understand what Matrilineal Society is, let us know what “matrilineal” means. From Vocabulary.com “Matrilineal refers to familial relationships that can be traced through a female.”
Anjana Narayan wrote in Encyclopaedia Britannica that “Matrilineal society is also called matriliny.” The group is bound by a kinship system that traces ancestral descent through maternal instead of paternal lines. According to Narayan, the system integrates family, marriage, postmarital residence, rules that prohibit sexual relations (and therefore marriage) between certain categories of kin, descent, and the terms used to label kin. It follows that a lineage refers to a group of individuals who are descendants of a common ancestor. We may understand that in matrilineage, individuals are related as kin through the maternal or female line of descent.
From Wikipedia matrilineality can well be understood, for example, with a societal system in which a person is identified with their mother’s lineage. In a matrilineal society, the individual belongs to the same descent group as their mother. In the case of inheritance, the term “matrilineal” is used, in which the property is passed down through the maternal line upon the demise of the mother. Another example is that matrilineal surnames are transferred from mother to daughter.
Various places around the world, such as parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, and India, have matrilineal societies. Matrilineal practices differ, though in these groups. In Narayan’s work, in matrilineal societies such as the Asante, or Ashanti, of Ghana in West Africa, women inherit status and property directly from their mothers. In Sumatra, Indonesia, the Minangkabau are the world’s largest matrilineal society. In such society land properties and houses are inherited through female lineage; the man by tradition marries into his wife’s household, and the woman inherits the ancestral home. Matrilineal societies are also found in India such as the Khasi in Meghalaya state and by the traditional Nayar in Kerala.
In Evelyn Blackwood’s research writings, according to Narayan, anthropologists questioned the validity of matrilineal kin groups that take on the function of the husband and the married couple even when a relationship was absent or did not qualify with the custom. For example, within Minangkabau matrilineal groups, conjugal and marital ties were considered second of importance only to kinship.
In Blackwood’s scholarly work, it was assumed that marital tie was weak due to power struggles between husbands and mothers-in-law who intrude or interfere, pressures from both the husband’s own lineage and the mother-in-law’s brother, position-wise. Women’s control of the land as well as their economic independence, caused husbands to become unreliable or leave the household because of such situation. It was assumed that matrilineal system was in place as a result of “weak husbands” or “missing men.” However, Blackwood’s research on the Minangkabau extended households indicates that matrilineal practices are given prominence than marital relationships and the roles of the husbands come secondary.
In all cultures, a mother takes care of her own children. In matrilineal cultures, an uncle takes the role of father to his nieces and nephews.

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