When Wonder Woman and her army of strong women jumped off the cliffs and rode on horses to fight the invaders, every woman had goosebumps. While we were all taken by the Amazons, the thought of it being just a tale from Greek mythology remained. But, what if someone told you that it is true in some parts of the world. There are a bunch of matriarchal societies in the world and needless to say, they all set wonderful examples.
In matriarchal societies, women are the head of their families. They govern the society and have the power to pull strings. Norms and rules are made by them. Most matriarchal societies around the world are matrilineal, which means the lineage of a person will be traced back through maternal ancestry. Here are the eight famous matriarchal societies in the world.
With about 4.2 million members, Minangkabau is the largest matriarchal society in the world. Minangs are indigenous to the Minangkabau Highlands of West Sumatra in Indonesia. The community is speculated to share a pre-history with Malays as their languages share similarities. Women are highly respected and favoured among Minangs. The family name and properties are inherited by daughters from mothers.
The community is matrilineal. It is customary for married women to stay in their parental home and the husbands often don't live with them but visit them. The religion and political fields are for men with the permission of women. Anthropologists have widely studied the culture and gender dynamics of Minangs and found that traditionally the norms of the society are highly advantageous to women.
Bribri people are the indigenous people of the Talamanca region of Costa Rica. They live in the mountains and are known for growing most of the produce they need by themselves. The tribe's social system is divided into clans, and they also follow a matrilineal system. Every child belongs to and is raised by the clan (extended family) of the mother.
The status of women isn’t limited to the lineage of her children. Unlike many mainstream nations, as per the norms of Bribri, only women can inherit the land. Their spirituality also favours women. The right to prepare a drink called Theobroma cacao which is essential to their rituals is also reserved for women.
On the other hand, another important role in the community is ‘shaman’ who deals with funerals. This role is reserved for men. And young boys begin to train at the age of eight and the training lasts for up to 15 years. Since boys aren’t raised by the father’s clan, men don’t get to train their own children but their sister’s children.
Khasi people are one of the very few remaining matriarchal communities in India. They are the indigenous tribe of Meghalaya. They are very much a part of the mainstream society. Even though the children receive their mother’s surname, men play a role in their upbringing. The married couple doesn’t have to live with the bride’s parents unless she is the youngest daughter. The men also get a share in the property of his parent but the bigger share will always be given to his sister. Khasi people are one of the modern matriarchal communities. They adhere to the laws of the Indian constitution, and many of them follow Christianity since the arrival of missionaries.
Mosuo people are a small community in the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China. Mosuo children entirely belong to their mother's family. Many times the father of the child is not known, and it is not attached to any stigma as this information is irrelevant. Mosuo people practice walking marriages in which man and woman don't live together under one roof but spend time together when they are free.
The matriarch of the house possesses absolute power. Every decision in the household including financial ones is taken by the matriarch. The daughter will become the next matriarch after their mothers. Sometimes, even adopted daughters goes onto become the matriarch without any question.
Nagovisi are one of the tribes of a large tropical island of New Guinea called South Bougainville. Food production is the focus of life here, and women play a dominant role here. Husbands of the tribe are assigned to tasks like clearing the land. Every adult woman is entitled to farm food in her ancestor’s land. And this right is passed on to her daughter. Nagovisi women are proud of the food they have produced in their land. Refusing to eat the food she serves is risky because it is considered disrespectful and it can lead to divorce.
Akan people are another matriarchal society known for their matrilineal system. Major positions in the financial and political ladder are assigned by looking at the mother's side of the family. The norm behind inheritance and succession is maternal ancestry. The men have an important role in the life of his sister's son but not his own son. Akan is a polygamous society where men are more associated with the female members of his family, and women are focused on the management of the entire clan.
This is as close to the Amazons you will get. It is one of the newer matriarchal communities in the world. Umoja Usao is an all-female village founded in 1990. It started as a home to survivors of abusive marriages and forced marriages. They previously belonged to the Samburu tribe of Kenya where women are the property of their husbands. Many women were raped or beaten by their family and outsiders. Women who were abandoned by their husbands or escaped from their misery came to Umoja with their children. The fact it wasn’t anyone else who founded Umoja for these women but the homeless women created a world for themselves makes it even more glorious. Men are till date banned from the village.
Garo is another Indian tribe that resides in the hills of North Eastern states. Garo people are an indigenous Tibeto-Burman group. They are the second largest tribe in Meghalaya. The Garos have similar practices like Khasi people. Their children inherit the name and properties from their mother. Men move to their wives' homes after marriage. The tribe believes in gender equality. Hence, the properties are owned by women and but are governed by men.