Matrilineality is the tracing of through the female line. It may also correlate with a in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's  – and which can involve the of property and/or titles. A matriline is a from a to a (of either ) in which the individuals in all intervening generations are mothersin other words, a "mother line". In a matrilineal , an individual is considered to belong to the same as their mother. This ancient matrilineal descent pattern is in contrast to the currently more popular pattern of from which a is usually derived. The ''matriline'' of historical nobility was also called their enatic or uterine ancestry, corresponding to the or "agnatic" ancestry. In some traditional societies and cultures, membership in their groups was – and, in the following list, still ''is'' if shown in ''italics'' – inherited matrilineally. Examples include the , , ', , , , , and of ; the ' of Panama; the ' and of South America; the ' people of , and , ; the ', ' and ''Nagovisi'' of Melanesia; the , some & of and the s, s & the s of in south ; the ', ' and ' of in northeast India and ; the ' and ' of ; the ' of ; the ' of Southeast Asia, the of , the of and ; the of , the ' including the ', ', ', ' of ; most groups across the so-called "" of south-central Africa; the of Southern & and the ' of west and north Africa; the ' of , and .

Early human kinship

In the late 19th century, almost all prehistorians and anthropologists believed, following 's influential book ', that early human kinship everywhere was matrilineal. This idea was taken up by in '. The Morgan-Engels thesis that humanity's earliest domestic institution was not the but the matrilineal soon became incorporated into . In reaction, most 20th century social anthropologists considered the theory of matrilineal priority untenable, although during the 1970s and 1980s, a range of scholars often attempted to revive it. In recent years, s, geneticists and s have been reassessing the issues, many citing genetic and other evidence that early human kinship may have been matrilineal after all. One crucial piece of indirect evidence has been genetic data suggesting that over thousands of years, women among n hunter-gatherers have chosen to reside postmaritally not with their husbands' family but with their own mother and other natal kin. Another line of argument is that when sisters and their mothers help each other with childcare, the descent line tends to be matrilineal rather than patrilineal. Biological anthropologists are now widely agreed that cooperative childcare was a development crucial in making possible the evolution of the unusually large human brain and characteristically human psychology.

Matrilineal surname

''Matrilineal'' s are names transmitted from mother to daughter, in contrast to the more familiar ''patrilineal surnames'' transmitted from father to son, the pattern most common among s today. For clarity and for brevity, the scientific terms ''patrilineal surname'' and ''matrilineal surname'' are usually abbreviated as ''patriname'' and '.Sykes, Bryan (2001). '. W.W. Norton. ; pp. 291-2. uses "matriname" and states that women adding their own matriname to men's patriname (or "surname" as Sykes calls it) would really help in future genealogy work and historical record searches. Sykes also states (p. 292) that a woman's matriname will be handed down with her , the main topic of his book.

Cultural patterns

There appears to be some evidence for the presence of matrilineality in , in a very limited number of the Arabian peoples (first of all among the of Yemen, and among some strata of in Northern Arabia); on the other hand, there seems to be some reliable evidence for the presence of matrilineality in Islamic Arabia, the descendants of prophet Muhammad 12 imams are said to be from the lineage of his daughter termed as "sons of Fatima" A modern example from South Africa is the order of succession to the position of the in a culture of : not only is descent reckoned through the female line, but only females are eligible to inherit.

Clan names vs. surnames

Most of the example cultures in this article are based on (matrilineal) s. Any clan might possibly contain from one to several or many ''s'' or ''family groups'' – i.e., any matrilineal clan might be descended from one or several or many unrelated female ancestors. Also, each such descent group might have its own or ''surname'', as one possible cultural pattern. The following two example cultures each follow a different pattern, however: Example 1. Members of the (matrilineal) clan culture do not even have a ''surname'' or ''family name'', see below. In contrast, members do have a ''clan name'', which is important in their lives although not included in the member's name. Instead, one's name is just one's . Example 2. Members of the (matrilineal) clan culture , see below, also do not have matrilineal ''surnames'' and likewise their important ''clan name'' is not included in their name. However, members' names do commonly include second names which ''are called surnames'' but which are ''not'' routinely passed down from either father or mother to all their children as a ''family name''. Note well that if a culture did include one's ''clan name'' in one's name and routinely handed it down to all children in the ''descent group'' then it would automatically be the ''family name'' or ''surname'' for one's descent group (as well as for all other descent groups in one's clan).

Care of children

While a ''mother'' normally takes care of her own children in all cultures, in some matrilineal cultures an "uncle-father" will take care of his nieces and nephews instead: in other words ''social fathers'' here are uncles. There is not a necessary connection between the role of father and genitor. In many such matrilineal cultures, especially where residence is also , a man will exercise guardianship rights not over the children he fathers but over his sisters' children, who are viewed as 'his own flesh'. These children's biological father – unlike an uncle who is their mother's brother and thus their caregiver – is in some sense a 'stranger' to them, even when affectionate and emotionally close. According to , attributing to Kristen Hawkes, among foraging groups matrilocal societies are less likely to commit female infanticide than are patrilocal societies.

Matrilineality in specific ethnic groups

In Europe

Ancient Greece

While men held positions of religious and political power, Spartan constitution mandated that inheritance and proprietorship pass from mother to daughter.

Ancient Scotland

In Pictish society, succession in leadership (later kingship) was matrilineal (through the mother's side), with the reigning chief succeeded by either his brother or perhaps a nephew but not through patrilineal succession of father to son.

In the Americas


Occupied for 10,000 years by Native Americans, the land that would become New Jersey was overseen by s of the or or , who farmed, fished, and hunted upon it. The pattern of their culture was that of a matrilineal agricultural and mobile hunting society that was sustained with fixed, but not permanent, settlements in their ''matrilineal clan'' territories. Leadership by men was inherited through the maternal line, and the women elders held the power to remove leaders of whom they disapproved. Villages were established and relocated as the clans farmed new sections of the land when soil fertility lessened and when they moved among their fishing and hunting grounds by seasons. The area was claimed as a part of the Dutch province dating from 1614, where active trading in furs took advantage of the natural pass west, but the Lenape prevented permanent settlement beyond what is now Jersey City. "Early Europeans who first wrote about these Indians found matrilineal social organization to be unfamiliar and perplexing. As a result, the early records are full of 'clues' about early Lenape society, but were usually written by observers who did not fully understand what they were seeing."


The (in what is now the in northeastern ), according to , had as its "gender ideology ... one of female superiority, and it operated within a social actuality of sexual equality." According to LeBow (based on Schlegel's work), in the Hopi, "gender roles ... are egalitarian ....
ither sex is inferior." LeBow concluded that Hopi women "participate fully in ... political decision-making." According to Schlegel, "the Hopi no longer live as they are described here"Schlegel, Alice, ''Hopi Gender Ideology of Female Superiority'', ''op. cit.'', p. 44 n. 1. and "the attitude of female superiority is fading". Schlegel said the Hopi "were and still are matrilinial"Schlegel, Alice, ''Hopi Gender Ideology of Female Superiority'', ''op. cit.'', p. 45. and "the household ... was matrilocal". Schlegel explains why there was female superiority as that the Hopi believed in "life as the highest good ...
ith The Ith () is a ridge in Germany's Central Uplands which is up to 439 m high. It lies about 40 km southwest of Hanover and, at 22 kilometres, is the longest line of crags in North Germany. Geography Location The Ith is immediately ...
the female principle ... activated in women and in Mother Earth ... as its source" and that the Hopi "were not in a state of continual war with equally matched neighbors"Schlegel, Alice, ''Hopi Gender Ideology of Female Superiority'', ''op. cit.'', p. 49. and "had no standing army" so that "the Hopi lacked the spur to masculine superiority" and, within that, as that women were central to institutions of clan and household and predominated "within the economic and social systems (in contrast to male predominance within the political and ceremonial systems)", the , for example, being empowered to overturn land distribution by men if she felt it was unfair,Schlegel, Alice, ''Hopi Gender Ideology of Female Superiority'', ''op. cit.'', p. 50. since there was no "countervailing ... strongly centralized, male-centered political structure".


The , combining five to six Native American nations or tribes before the became a nation, operated by , a constitution by which women retained matrilineal-rights and participated in the League's political decision-making, including deciding whether to proceed to war, through what may have been a matriarchy or "'gyneocracy'". The dates of this constitution's operation are unknown: the League was formed in approximately 1000–1450, but the constitution was oral until written in about 1880.Jacobs, Renée, ''Iroquois Great Law of Peace and the United States Constitution'', in ''American Indian Law Review'', ''op. cit.'', p. 498 & n. 6. The League still exists.

Tsenacommacah (Powhatan Confederacy)

The and other tribes of the , also known as the Powhatan Confederacy, practiced a version of male-preference matrilineal , favoring brothers over sisters in the current generation (but allowing sisters to inherit if no brothers remained), but passing to the next generation through the eldest female line. In ''A Map of Virginia'' explains:
His /nowiki>'skingdome descendeth not to his sonnes nor children: but first to his brethren, whereof he hath 3 namely , , and ; and after their decease to his sisters. First to the eldest sister, then to the rest: and after them to the heires male and female of the eldest sister; but never to the heires of the males.

In Africa


Some 20 million live in Africa, particularly in and . (See as well their subgroups, the , also called Asante, , , , .) Many but not all of the Akan still (2001)de Witte, Marleen (2001). ''Long live the dead!: changing funeral celebrations in Asante, Ghana''. Published by Het Spinhuis. . All de Witte (2001) pages referenced below, and many more pages, are available online via Google Books at https://books.google.com/books?id=Fmf5UqZzbvoC&pg=PA52&dq=Abusua&hl=en&ei=iTRaTdj1N8P7lweKm7XfDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Abusua&f=false practice their traditional matrilineal customs, living in their traditional households, as follows. The traditional Akan economic, political and social organization is based on maternal lineages, which are the basis of inheritance and succession. A lineage is defined as all those related by from a particular ancestress. Several lineages are grouped into a ''political unit'' headed by a chief and a council of elders, each of whom is the elected head of a lineage – which itself may include multiple extended-family households. Public offices are thus vested in the lineage, as are land tenure and other lineage property. In other words, lineage property is inherited only by matrilineal kin.Busia, Kofi Abrefa (1970). ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', 1970. William Benton, publisher, The University of Chicago. , Vol. 1, p. 477. (This Akan article was written by Kofi Abrefa Busia, formerly professor of Sociology and Culture of Africa at the University of Leiden, Netherlands.) "The principles governing inheritance stress sex, generation and age – that is to say, men come before women and seniors before juniors." When a woman's brothers are available, a consideration of generational seniority stipulates that the line of brothers be exhausted before the right to inherit lineage property passes down to the next senior genealogical generation of sisters' sons. Finally, "it is when all possible male heirs have been exhausted that the females" may inherit. Each lineage controls the lineage land farmed by its members, functions together in the veneration of its ancestors, supervises marriages of its members, and settles internal disputes among its members. The political units above are likewise grouped into eight larger groups called ' (similar to s), named Aduana, Agona, Asakyiri, Asenie, Asona, Bretuo, Ekuona and Oyoko. The members of each ''abusua'' are united by their belief that they are all descended from the same ancient ancestress. Marriage between members of the same ''abusua'' is forbidden. One inherits or is a lifelong member of the lineage, the political unit, and the ''abusua'' of one's mother, regardless of one's gender and/or marriage. Note that members and their spouses thus belong to different ''abusuas'', mother and children living and working in one household and their husband/father living and working in a different household. According to this sourceashanti.com.au (before 2010). http://ashanti.com.au/pb/wp_8078438f.html, "Ashanti Home Page: The Ashanti Family unit" Archived at WebCite https://www.webcitation.org/5xVwnX0ie?url=http://ashanti.com.au/pb/wp_8078438f.html on 28 March 2011. of further information about the Akan, "A man is strongly related to his mother's brother (wɔfa) but only weakly related to his father's brother. This must be viewed in the context of a society in which the mother/child bond is likely to be much stronger than the father/child bond. As a result, in inheritance, a man's nephew (sister's son) will have priority over his own son. Uncle-nephew relationships therefore assume a dominant position." Certain other aspects of the Akan culture are determined rather than matrilineally. There are 12 patrilineal (which means spirit) groups, and everyone belongs to their father's Ntoro group but not to his (matrilineal) family lineage and ''abusua''. Each patrilineal Ntoro group has its own surnames, taboos, ritual purifications, and etiquette. A recent (2001) book provides this update on the Akan: Some families are changing from the above ''abusua'' structure to the .de Witte (2001), p. 53. Housing, childcare, education, daily work, and elder care etc. are then handled by that individual family rather than by the ''abusua'' or clan, especially in the city. The above taboo on marriage within one's abusua is sometimes ignored, but "clan membership" is still important, with many people still living in the ''abusua'' framework presented above.


The (Arabic:طوارق, sometimes spelled Touareg in French, or Twareg in English) are a large ethnic confederation found across several nations in north Africa, including , and . The Tuareg are ''clan''-based,Haven, Cynthia (23 May 07). http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2007/pr-tuareg-052307.html, "New exhibition highlights the 'artful' Tuareg of the Sahara," Stanford University. Archived at WebCite https://www.webcitation.org/5xd6eNYUc?url=http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2007/pr-tuareg-052307.html on 1Apr11. and are (still, in 2007) "largely matrilineal".Spain, Daphne (1992). ''Gendered Spaces''. University of North Carolina Press. ; p. 57. (April 1966). Untitled review of a 1963 major ethnographic study of the Tuareg. ''American Anthropologist'', New Series, 68 (1966), No. 2, 554-556. (The main part of this review is available online at https://www.jstor.org/pss/669389, a JSTOR-archive Permalink.) The Tuareg are , but mixed with a "heavy dose" of their pre-existing beliefs including matrilineality. Tuareg women enjoy high status within their society, compared with their counterparts and with other Berber tribes: Tuareg social status is transmitted through women, with residence often . Most women could read and write, while most men were illiterate, concerning themselves mainly with herding livestock and other male activities. The livestock and other movable property were owned by the women, whereas personal property is owned and inherited regardless of gender. In contrast to most other Muslim cultural groups, men wear veils but women do not. This custom is discussed in more detail in the Tuareg article's , which mentions it may be the protection needed against the blowing sand while traversing the .


The of , the and are patrilineal (''simanGol'' in ) as well as matrilineal (''tim'', "Sagesse : Essais sur la pensée , KARTHALA Editions (1994). For ''tim'' and ''den yaay'' (see p. 116). The book also deals in depth about the Serer matriclans and means of succession through the matrilineal line. See also pages : 38, 95-99, 104, 119-20, 123, 160, 172-4

(Retrieved : 4 August 2012)
). There are several and . Some of these matriarchs include (1335) and (1367) – matriarchs of the which also became a dynasty in (Senegal). Some s or maternal clans form part of and history, such as the s. The most revered clans tend to be rather ancient and form part of . These clans hold great significance in and . Some of these proto-Serer matriclans include the ''Cegandum'' and ''Kagaw'', whose historical account is enshrined in Serer religion, mythology and . In Serer culture, inheritance is both matrilineal and patrilineal. It all depends on the asset being inherited – i.e. whether the asset is a paternal asset – requiring paternal inheritance (''kucarla'' ) or a maternal asset – requiring maternal inheritance (''den yaay'' or ''ƭeen yaay'' Becker, Charles: "Vestiges historiques, trémoins matériels du passé clans les pays sereer", Dakar (1993), CNRS - ORS TO M
(Retrieved : 4 August 2012)
). The actual handling of these maternal assets (such as jewelry, land, livestock, equipment or furniture, etc.) is discussed in the subsection of one of the above-listed main articles.


The inhabitants of island had developed a matrilineal society by the time the and their people, called , were conquered by the Spanish.

In Asia

Sri Lanka

Matrilineality among the and in the Eastern Province of arrived from , India via Muslim traders before 1200 CE. Matrilineality here includes and social organization, inheritance and property rights. For example, "the mother's property and/or house is passed on to the eldest daughter." The are the third ethnic group in eastern Sri Lanka, and have a kinship system which is "intermediate" between that of matrilineality and that of , along with "bilateral inheritance" (in some sense intermediate between matrilineal and patrilineal inheritance). While the first two groups speak the , the third group speaks the . The Tamils largely identify with , the Sinhalese being primarily . The three groups are about equal in population size. social structures apply to all of Sri Lanka, but in the are mixed with the matrilineal features summarized in the paragraph above and described more completely in the following subsection:

= A matrilineal and patriarchal mixture

= According to Kanchana N. Ruwanpura, "is highly regarded even among" "for the relatively favourable position of its women, reflected" in women's equal achievements in "(HDIs) as well as matrilineal and" "inheritance patterns and property rights". She also conversely argues that "''feminist economists'' need to be cautious in applauding Sri Lanka's gender-based achievements and/or matrilineal communities", because these matrilineal communities coexist with "''patriarchal'' structures and ideologies" and the two "can be strange but ultimately compatible bedfellows", as follows: She "positions Sri Lankan women within gradations of ''patriarchy'' by beginning with a brief overview of the main religious traditions," , , and , "and the ways in which patriarchal interests are promoted through religious practice" in Eastern Sri Lanka (but without being as repressive as classical patriarchy). Thus, "feminists have claimed that Sri Lankan women are relatively well positioned in the" region,Agarwal, Bina (1996). ''A Field of One's Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia.'' New Delhi: Cambridge University Press. (First edition was 1994.) despite "patriarchal institutional laws that ... are likely to work against the interests of women," which is a "co-operative conflict" between women and these laws. (Clearly "female-heads have no legal recourse" from these laws which state "patriarchal interests".) For example, "the economic welfare of female-heads eads of householdsdepends upon networks" ("of kin and atrilinealcommunity"), "networks that mediate the patriarchal-ideological nexus." She wrote that "some female heads possessed" "feminist consciousness" and, at the same time, that "in many cases female-heads are not vociferous feminists ... but rather 'victims' of patriarchal relations and structures that place them in precarious positions....
hile Hile ( ne, हिले) is a hill town located in the Eastern Part of Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणत ...
they have held their ground ... provided for their children". On the other hand, she also wrote that feminists including and have criticized a romanticized view of women's lives in Sri Lanka put forward by Yalman, and mentioned the Sri Lankan case "where young women raped (usually by a man) are married-off/required to cohabit with the rapists!"


In the matrilineal culture in , a person's name is important in their marriage and their other cultural-related events.Sanday, Peggy Reeves (Dec2002). http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~psanday/report_02.html, "Report from Indonesia". Archived by WebCite® at https://www.webcitation.org/5yuG1WLRW?url=http://www.sas.upenn.edu/%7Epsanday/report_02.html on 23May11.Sanday, Peggy Reeves (2004). ''Women at the Center: Life in a Modern Matriarchy''. Cornell University Press. . Parts of this book are available online at books.google.comFitzsimmons, Caitlin (21Oct09). http://www.roamingtales.com/2009/10/21/a-matrilineal-islamic-society-in-sumatra/, "A matrilineal, Islamic society in Sumatra". Archived by WebCite at https://www.webcitation.org/5yuEENZ0B?url=http://www.roamingtales.com/2009/10/21/a-matrilineal-islamic-society-in-sumatra/ on 23May11. Two totally unrelated people who share the same clan name can never be married because they are considered to be from the same clan mother (unless they come from distant villages). Likewise, when meet total strangers who share the same clan name, anywhere in Indonesia, they could theoretically expect to feel that they are distant relatives. Minang people do not have a family name or surname; neither is one's important clan name included in one's name; instead one's is the only name one has. The are one of the world's largest matrilineal societies/cultures/ethnic groups, with a population of 4 million in their home province in Indonesia and about 4 million elsewhere, mostly in Indonesia. The Minang people are well known within their country for their tradition of matrilineality and for their "dedication to Islam" – despite Islam being "supposedly patrilineal". This well-known accommodation, between their traditional complex of customs, called , and their religion, was actually worked out to help end the Minangkabau 1821-37 . This source is available online. The are a prime example of a matrilineal culture with female inheritance. With Islamic religious background of ism and places a greater number of men than women in positions of religious and political power. Inheritance and proprietorship pass from mother to daughter. The society of Minangkabau exhibits the ability of societies to lack without of genders. Besides Minangkabau, several other ethnics in Indonesia are also matrilineal and have similar culture as the Minangkabau. They are Suku Melayu Bebilang, Suku Kubu and Kerinci people. Suku Melayu Bebilang live in Kota Teluk Kuantan, Kabupaten Kuantan Singingi (also known as Kuansing), Riau. They have similar culture as the Minang. Suku Kubu people live in Jambi and South Sumatera. They are around 200 000 people. Suku Kerinci people mostly live in Kabupaten Kerinci, Jambi. They are around 300 000 people


Originally, s were derived matrilineally,linguistics.berkeley.edu (2004). http://www.linguistics.berkeley.edu/~rosemary/55-2004-names.pdf, "Naming practices". A PDF file with a section on "Chinese naming practices (Mak et al., 2003)". although by the time of the (1600 to 1046 ) they had become patrilineal. (The first few sentences are accessible online via JSTOR at https://www.jstor.org/stable/2743616, i.e., p.753.) Archaeological data supports the theory that during the period (7000 to 2000 ) in China, Chinese matrilineal clans evolved into the usual patrilineal families by passing through a transitional patrilineal clan phase. Evidence includes some "richly furnished" tombs for young women in the early Neolithic culture, whose multiple other collective burials imply a matrilineal clan culture. Toward the late Neolithic period, when burials were apparently of couples, "a reflection of patriarchy", an increasing elaboration of presumed chiefs' burials is reported. Relatively isolated ethnic minorities such as the (Na) in southwestern China are highly matrilineal. (See several sections of the article.)


Most ethnic groups classified as "(, and )" are matrilineal. On , according to Alessandra Chiricosta, the legend of is said to be evidence of "the presence of an original 'matriarchy' ... and led to the double kinship system, which developed there .... nd whichcombined matrilineal and patrilineal patterns of family structure and assigned equal importance to both lines."


Of communities recognized in the as Scheduled Tribes, "some ... matriarchal and matrilineal" "and thus have been known to be more egalitarian." Several Hindu communities in South India practiced matrilineality, especially the (or ''Nayar'') and in the state of , and the and in the states of . The system of inheritance was known as in the ''Nair'' community or in the ' and the ' community, and both communities were subdivided into s. This system was exceptional in the sense that it was one of the few traditional systems in western historical records of India that gave women some liberty and the right to property. In the matrilineal system, the family lived together in a which was composed of a mother, her brothers and younger sisters, and her children. The oldest male member was known as the ''karanavar'' and was the head of the household, managing the family estate. Lineage was traced through the mother, and the children belonged to the mother's family. In earlier days, s would be of the maternal side. All family property was jointly owned. In the event of a partition, the shares of the children were clubbed with that of the mother. The karanavar's property was inherited by his sisters' sons rather than his own sons. (For further information see the articles and and .) has stated that, although there were numerous other matrilineal succession systems in communities of the south Indian coast, the Nairs "achieved an unparalleled eminence in the anthropological literature on matrilineality". In the n state , the , , have a long tradition of a largely matrilinear system in which the youngest daughter inherits the wealth of the parents and takes over their care.


A culture similar to the those practiced by the ''Minangkabau'' as a product of West Sumatran migration into the in the 15th century becoming the basis for the state of known as the .

The Kurds

Matrilineality was occasionally practiced by mainstream , , , , and , though the practice was much rarer among non- -speaking . The clan of the, Culturally, tribal confederation and, politically, is an enatic clan, meaning members of the clan can only inherit their mothers last name and are considered to be a part of the mothers family. The entire Mokri tribe may have also practiced this form of enaticy before the collapse of their emirate and its direct rule from the Iranian or Ottoman state, or perhaps the tradition started because of depopulation in the area due to raids.

In Oceania

Some oceanic societies, such as the and the Trobrianders, the , the and the Siuai, are characterized by matrilineal descent. The sister's sons or the brothers of the decedent are commonly the successors in these societies.

Matrilineal identification within Judaism

Matrilineality in Judaism or matrilineal descent in Judaism is the tracing of descent through the maternal line. Close to all Jewish communities have followed matrilineal descent from at least early (c. 10-70 CE) times through modern times.Reviewed by

Originally published in Judaism 34.1 (Winter 1985), 55-59.
The origins and date-of-origin of matrilineal descent in Judaism are uncertain. , who believe that matrilineality and matriarchy within Judaism are related to the metaphysical concept of the Jewish soul, maintain that matrilineal descent is an from at least the time of the Receiving of the Torah on (c. 1310 BCE).Midrash Rabbah, Numbers, 19 Theologian Rabbi suggests that the marriage practices of the Jewish community were re-stated as a law of matrilineal descent in the early Tannaitic Period (c. 10-70 CE). The law of matrilineal descent was first codified, as all Jewish Oral Law, in the (c. 2nd century CE). The (c. 500 CE) adduces the law of matrilineal descent from : You shall not intermarry with them: you shall not give your daughter to his son, and you shall not take his daughter for your son. For he will turn away your son from following Me, and they will worship the gods of others... Conservative Jewish Theologian Rabbi Louis Jacobs dismisses the suggestion that "the Tannaim were influenced by the Roman legal system..." and that "even if the Rabbis were familiar with the Roman law, they might have reacted to it nsteadby preserving the patrilineal principle, holding fast to their own system." The Jewish Oral Tradition cites the Book of Ezra, Chapters 9, 10, regarding the law of matrilineal descent in Judaism. The medieval French commentator, (1040-1105 CE), in his commentary on Prophets references the law of matrilineal descent regarding , daughter of . Maimonides re-codified the law of matrilineal descent in his compilation of Jewish Law, (c. 1170-1180 CE). The law of matrilineal descent was again re-codified in the Code of Jewish Law, (1563 CE), without mention of any dissenting opinion. The ish philosopher, (c. 20 BCE – 50 CE) calls the child of a Jew and a non-Jew a ''nothos'' (bastard), regardless of whether the non-Jewish parent is the father or the mother. While Flavius (c. 37-100 CE), the Romanized Jewish historian, writing about events that were alleged to have occurred a century prior, has (c. 63-37 BCE), the last king of Judea, denigrating –whose father's family were Idumean Arabs forcibly converted to Judaism by (c. 134-104 BCE) and whose mother, according to Josephus, was either an Idumean Arab or Arabian (Nabatean Arab)– by referring to him as "an Idumean i.e. a half-Jew" and as therefore unfit to be given governorship of Judea by the Romans. In practice, Jewish denominations define "" via descent in different ways. All denominations of Judaism have protocols for for those who are not Jewish by descent. Orthodox Judaism practices matrilineal descent and considers it axiomatic. The Conservative Jewish Movement also practices matrilineal descent as virtually all Jewish communities have for at least two thousand years. In 1986, the Conservative Movement's Rabbinical Assembly reiterated the commitment of the Conservative Movement to the practice of matrilineal descent. In 1983, the of passed a resolution waiving the need for formal conversion for anyone with at least one Jewish parent, provided that either (a) one is raised as a Jew, by Reform standards, or (b) one engages in an appropriate act of public identification, formalizing a practice that had been common in Reform synagogues for at least a generation. This 1983 resolution departed from the Reform Movement's previous position requiring formal conversion to Judaism for children without a Jewish mother. However, the closely associated has rejected this resolution and requires formal conversion for anyone without a Jewish mother. does not accept Jewish Oral Law as definitive, believing that all divine commandments were recorded with their plain meaning in the written Torah. As such, they interpret the Hebrew Bible to indicate that Jewishness can only follow patrilineal descent. In 1968, the movement became the first American Jewish movement to pass a resolution recognizing Jews of patrilineal descent.

In mythology

Certain ancient myths have been argued to expose ancient traces of matrilineal customs that existed before historical records. The ancient historian is cited by in his translations of Greek myths as attesting that the ns of their times "still reckoned" by matrilineal descent, or were matrilineal, as were the ns. In Greek mythology, while the royal function was a , power devolution often came through women, and the future king inherited power through marrying the queen heiress. This is illustrated in the ic myths where all the noblest men in Greece vie for the hand of (and the throne of ), as well as the Oedipian cycle where weds the recently widowed queen at the same time he assumes the Theban kingship. This trend also is evident in many , such as the (Welsh) stories of , or the (Irish) , most notably the key facts to the cycle that Cúchulainn gets his final secret training with a woman, , and becomes the lover of her daughter; and the root of the , that while may wear the crown of , it is his wife who is the real power, and she needs to affirm her equality to her husband by owning chattels as great as he does. The Picts are widely cited as being matrilineal. A number of other stories also illustrate the motif. Even the legends have been interpreted in this light by some. For example, the , both as a piece of furniture and as concerns the majority of knights belonging to it, was a gift to Arthur from 's father . Arguments also have been made that matrilineality lay behind various plots which may contain the vestiges of folk traditions not recorded. For instance, the widespread motif of a father who wishes to marry his own daughter—appearing in such tales as ', ', ', and '—has been explained as his wish to prolong his reign, which he would lose after his wife's death to his son-in-law. More mildly, the hostility of kings to their daughter's suitors is explained by hostility to their successors. In such tales as ', ', or ', kings set dangerous tasks in an attempt to prevent the marriage. Fairy tales with hostility between the mother-in-law and the heroine—such as ', ', and Perrault's —have been held to reflect a transition between a matrilineal society, where a man's loyalty was to his mother, and a patrilineal one, where his wife could claim it, although this interpretation is predicated on such a transition being a normal development in societies.Schlauch 1969, p. 34.

See also

* , advocate for matrilineality * * * , "the mother is always certain" – until 1978 and ''in vitro'' pregnancies. * *



Further reading

* Schlegel, Alice (1972) ''Male dominance and female autonomy: domestic authority in matrilineal societies''. HRAF Press.
* Cameron, Anne (1981) ''Daughters of Copper Woman''. Press Gang Publishers. * Holden, C. J. & Mace, R. (2003). Spread of cattle led to the loss of matrilineal descent in Africa: a coevolutionary analysis. ''The Royal Society'
Full text
* Holden, C.J., Sear, R. & Mace, R. (2003) Matriliny as daughter-biased investment. ''Evolution & Human Behavior 24:'' 99-112
Full text
* Knight, C. 2008. Early human kinship was matrilineal. In N. J. Allen, H. Callan, R. Dunbar and W. James (eds.), Early Human Kinship. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 61–8
Full text
* * {{Authority control Matriarchy