Ethnicities in the World That Still Practice Matrilineal Customs

Matrilineal is – Matrilineal is a kinship system that draws maternal lineage only. The child will then connect with the mother including connecting with the mother’s relatives, based on the female lineage unilaterally.

The consequence of this kinship system is to draw offspring from the maternal line which is seen as very important. It is in the matter of inheritance of those from the maternal lineage that will get a greater share than from the paternal line.

This kinship system can then be found in the Minangkabau and Semando communities. The child who connects himself with his mother based on the female lineage.

In matrilineal societies, descent according to the maternal line itself is seen as very important, so it will give rise to much more pervasive familial relationships in families with descendants according to the maternal line. In Indonesia, this kinship system applies to minangkabau communities.

Matrilineal in the Minangkabau Tribe

In family relationships there is a kinship system. It is this kinship system that will then connect a nuclear family or small family with members of a large family. Unlike in the patrilineal kinship system adopted by the tribes in general, the matrilineal system itself is very rarely used.

In Indonesia, there are not many tribes that adhere to this kinship system. However, one of the tribes that adheres to the matrilineal system that still survives is the Minangkabau tribe. The existence of the Minangkabau tribe dominates the province of West Sumatra with a large population.

Here are some unique facts related to the matrilineal system adopted by the Minangkabau tribe that you need to know.

1. Perform an Exogamous Wedding

In the matrilineal system, customs in Minangkabau do not support inter-tribal marriages. Even if it comes from a different nagari (one village or area) but has the same tribe, then the marriage is still seen as a bad thing.

Minangkabau customs often worry about damage to tribal lines in the event of marriage between two people from the same tribe. Those who end up violating this provision will generally get social sanctions, such as being excluded from society.

With regard to exogamous marriages, it is not uncommon for men to be given a dowry. The position of men with this condition will make them referred to as pick-up people. After marriage, a man will be a “guest” because they will then live in his wife’s family home.

2. The generation born will affect the size of the Gadang house inhabited

Rumah Gadang became a heirloom and became a place for various important events ranging from birth ceremonies to weddings. If a man has a family, then the Gadang house is occupied by sisters with their husbands and children.

Home development will also adapt to the needs of girls. The more content, the larger the size of the house. Women also play a central role in the family structure. Some experts such as Naim, Anwar, as well as M. Radjab then mentioned what the definition of family in Gadang’s house includes paruik, jurai, and samande, among others.

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Paruik is a term for the 5–6 generations that occupy gadang houses. This larger group is also referred to as jurai, while the smaller group is also referred to as samande

In general, there is no displacedness because each generation and group does have an equally important role. For the Minangkabau people, living with a large family is the same as getting great protection from the family.

Parents have a responsibility to the survival of the child, while children are responsible to families with old age. If the two provisions do not work, then the responsibility will then be transferred to the saparuik family members.

If not really, it will be taken over by members of the sajurai family, and so on to the higher level of the family

3. The Name of the Descendant Is Withdrawn from One of the Parties

Matrilineal is a term that refers to a kinship system that draws a lineage on the part of women (mothers), either in boys or girls. They then bear the tribe in their name according to the tribe owned by the mother.

Starting from the ancestors to the newborn generation, Minangkabau children will generally not use the tribe from the paternal side . Because of this, the birth of a daughter was very welcome because one day she would become the successor of her tribal lineage.

4. Inherited Property Is Used Collectively

As mentioned earlier, the Minangkabau people then had a very close relationship with their relatives. The strength of this relationship itself is based on goals and various common interests, namely in the form of ownership of houses and land.

So, even though women play a big role in tribalism, it does not mean that women will gain full power over the inheritance or inheritance in their families. The Minangkabau people have a philosophy of the Basandi Syarak Custom, Syarak Basandi Kitabullah. This means that in addition to sticking to customs, the Minangkabau people will also make Islamic teachings as a guide in life, including in the division of inheritance.

Minangkabau society in general also adheres to inheritance from mamak (uncle or mother’s brother ) to niece. From the division of this inheritance, usually the inheritance property will be used jointly by the beneficiary with other family members. Arguably, the inheritance property is then indivisible and must remain intact because it belongs to the commons.

5. There are some relationships between women and men in the system

The matrilineal system adopted by the Minangkabau tribe then causes women and men to get different designations. The difference itself depends on the type of relationship established. Here’s the explanation.

  • Mamak-niece Mamak is a term for uncle and niece is a term for the uncle’s nephew. This relationship itself is established between the uncle and the child of his sister or the relationship of a man or woman with his uncle.
    It is the mamak who will play an important role in preserving the matrilineal system. He also served as the caretaker of his family in Gadang’s house. Starting from guiding girls to continue their tribal matrilineal system to guiding boys to be wise if they are faced with heirloom inheritance.
  • Relationship on the basis of the mother of the bako and the banana cub. Mother bako is a term for a woman when in contact with the child of her brother. Meanwhile, the banana child himself shows the relationship between the man and the woman with his father’s sister. The role of women here will be even broader when compared to the relationship in the previous
  • Relationships on the basis of secession. The husband will get the title sumando because they will be the one who hitchhikes or lives in his wife’s family house while the wife is called pasumandan because they become the party who boarded.
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Although it is quite complex, it cannot be denied that the matrilineal system that was later embraced by the Minangkabau tribe has given birth to a generation of strong women. The role of women in the Minang realm itself then occupies a high position until now. As we already know, matrilineal is a custom that passes down inheritance to women or from the maternal line. Apart from Indonesia, there are several ethnicities in the world that still uphold matrilineal culture, which countries are they?

1. Minangkabau

In the Minangkabau community or commonly also known as Minang located in Indonesia, all property, land, and inheritance are passed down from the mother to her daughter. Meanwhile, the father’s income will be passed on to the son.

In the past, this would then make women in Minang have strength, but nowadays, low incomes then take a little part in changing lives its modern social. Nevertheless, the inheritance still continues to be passed down to the maternal line and the mother is still the head of the family.

The groom will generally be given to the bride of the female family members, who will escort her to the bride’s house. Overall power and authority will be divided equally between men and women, with women in power in the house, while men who have roles spiritual and political. Both sides believe that this will make them equal.

The women in Minang had the right and power to choose a man who would be made chief, then demoted him from the post if he felt he was not a person who deserves to be made a chief.

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2. Will

The Akan people are a multiethnic group in Ghana, where in the area everything is organized based on matrilineal customs. In Ghana the men often became tribal leaders, while their power came from the matrilineal line.

Men will not only help their own families, but also the families of the women’s side. Women in Ghana are generally the ones who will hold many rituals and ceremonies, such as funerals, making food, as well as various rules in the house.

3. Mosuo

The Chinese Mosuo are a tribe that lives at the foot of the Himalayas. Mosuo became one of the most famous examples of people with matrilineal customs. They even have a tradition of “walking marriage” where women are then entitled to choose their partners by walking directly to the home of the man they choose.

In this tribe the woman is entitled to more than one man and undergo more than one marriage. Their descendants will later bear the last name and live with their mother, while the male side may or may not be involved in raising the child.

4. Bribri

Located in Panama and northern Costa Rica , Bribri adhered to matrilineal customs in which women later inherited land and created a large family. The children will be who will enter the family of their mother and a grandmother are then seen as bearers of tradition and a source of knowledge.

While men with important roles are not allowed to pass on knowledge or give jobs to their sons, but only to the sons of brothers and sisters their women only.

The women then had the right to prepare cocoa for the sacred ritual of Bribri as one of the most important things in a tribe.

5. Garo

Garo is an indigenous tribe located in Bangladesh and India. Garo gave the tribe a name from their mother’s name, with his youngest daughter going to be the heir to all the mother’s property. Adhering to matrilineal customs, the women of Garo hold power and will be given the right to rule in the house.

6. Tuareg

The Tuareg contains berbers who have a nomadic lifestyle in the desert regions of the Sahara. In social life, the women in the Tuareg will then have a high status and every tribe in it will be gathered so that everyone can listen to the women who write and read.

While the males will raise animals. Most of the property as well as farm animals will be owned by women, while private property will be inherited regardless of gender. Although the majority of them adhere to Islam, the Tuareg ethnicity is also influenced by several other cultures such as matrilineal.