List of matrilineal or matrilocal societies

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The following list includes societies that have been identified as matrilineal or matrilocal in ethnographic literature.

"Matrilineal" means property is passed down through the maternal line on the death of the mother, not that of the father.

"Matrilocal" means new families are established in proximity to the brides' extended family of origin, not that of the groom.

Note: separate in the marriage column refers to the practice of husbands and wives living in separate locations, often informally called walking marriages. See the articles for the specific cultures that practice this for further description.

Group name Continent Country Marriage Lineage Reference (year)
Alor Asia Indonesia Cora du Bois 1944
Bamenda Africa Cameroon patrilocal only Kom matrilineal Phyllis Kaberry 1952
Bantoc Asia Philippines Albert S Bacadayan 1974
Batek Asia Malaysia patrilocal Kirk Michael Endicott 1974
Boyowan Australasia Papua New Guinea patrilocal matrilineal Bronisław Malinowski 1916
Bribri North America Costa Rica matrilocal matrilineal William Moore Grabb 1875
Bunt Asia India patrilocal matrilineal E Kathleen Gough 1954
Chambri Australasia Papua New Guinea Margaret Mead 1935
Filipinos Asia Philippines both both Chester L Hunt 1959
Fore Australasia Papua New Guinea Shirley Glasse (Lindenbaum) 1963
Garo Asia India matrilocal matrilineal
Hopi North America United States of America matrilocal matrilineal Barbara Freire-Marreco 1914
Iban Asia Borneo both neither Edwin H Gomes 1911
Imazighen Africa North Sahara George Peter Murdock 1959
Iroquois North America North East North America matrilocal matrilineal Lewis Henry Morgan 1901
Jaintia Asia India matrilocal matrilineal
Jivaro South America West Amazon R Karstan 1926
Jews Israel, Judaism by country [1] matrilineal Judith Buber Agassi[citation needed] 1989
Karen Asia Burma matrilocal matrilineal Harry Ignatius Marshall[2] 1922
Khasi Asia India matrilocal matrilineal P. R. T. Gurdon[3] 1914
!Kung San Africa Southern Africa Marjorie Shostak 1976
Marshallese Oceania Marshall Islands matrilocal matrilineal
Maliku Asia India separate matrilineal Ellen Kattner 1996
Minangkabau Asia Indonesia both PJ Veth 1882
Mosuo Asia China separate matrilineal Joseph Francis Charles Rock 1924
Siraya Austronesia Taiwan duolocal,uxorilocal matrilineal Shepherd & Candidius 1995
Nakhi Asia China matrilineal Joseph Francis Charles Rock 1924
Nair Asia India matrilineal E Kathleen Gough 1954
Navajo North America United States of America matrilocal matrilineal
Nubians Africa Sudan Ernest Godard 1867
Jaintias Asia India matrilocal matrilineal
Tlingit North America United States of America matrilocal matrilineal Aurel Krause 1885
Vanatinai Australasia Papua New Guinea matrilocal matrilineal Maria Lipowsky 1981
Wemale Asia Indonesia Adolf E Jensen 1939
Woorani South America Ecuador John Man 1982


  1. ^ see Jewish views of marriage
  2. ^ Marshall, Harry Ignatius (1922). "The Karen People of Burma: A Study in Anthropology and Ethnology." Ohio State University Bulletin 26(13). ISBN 9748496864
  3. ^ The Khasis by P. R. T. Gurdon