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Syed Ali Murtaza Section J
What do you learn from the Matriarchal society and the Naga society prevailing in South China? Write about them.
A matriarchy is a tradition and a form of government in which community power lies with the
eldest mother/lady of a community. The word matriarchy is driven from the Latin words matri meaning mother and arch meaning chief or prime. It refers to the ancient tradition of motherdominated societies and clans, though it is often confused as meaning woman-dominated. Matriarchy is sometimes extended to refer to "government by women since women have the central roles of political leadership and moral authority. There are no known societies that are unambiguously matriarchal now a days, though, Yunnan ± a province in China ± is believed to have Matriarchal society prevailing there. Yunnan is located about 280 miles from the world famous city of Li Jiang, China. The people living around the lake are called Mor Soue people. This is the only group of people in China, perhaps in the world that is still within a matriarchal system. The head of the family is the mother or grandmother. All other members in the family are either her siblings, her own children, niece or nephews. She is the only one that controls family's financial situation. Men and women here do not get married. They have only lover or "Achia" which means the dear one. When the boy and the girl find their "dear one", they will signal each other. The boy will go visit the girl at her house and spend the night there, then go back to his own home in the morning and make his living there. The children born out of this relationship are the girl's responsibility and the children adopt their mother's last name. The child knows who their father is but there is no close relationship between them and their father; instead, they are closer to their uncle. The boy's responsibility is to take care of his sister's children. When the relationship ends, the boy will not be welcomed at the girl's house any more. No divorce. No legal or financial matters to discuss. Both sides have the right to seek a new Achia. In the evening, when the boy is on his way to his Achia's house, when people ask him where he is going, the answer usually is "Go for a walk" so the Chinese call this kind of relationship "Walking Marriage". In the home, the main room belongs to the mother and all the family functions are held there. When the girl comes of age, she will be giving a room called "The Flower Room" for her to meet her Achia. There is no room for the man in the house as they are expected to spend the night at their dear one's house. Occasionally if they have to spend the night at their own home they will sleep with the children or any place that is available.
Matriarchal and Naga Societies
Because of their unique custom and the area's beautiful scenery, tourists are beginning to visit. Unfortunately, the infrastructure is not ready for tourists yet.
Moreover, there is also as ethnic group, known as the Mosuo group. Mosuo are a small ethni
group living in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in China. In the Xiaolianghshan Mountains, Yunnan province (South East China), live the Mosuo people, one of the last living matriarchal societies today. They are closely related to Tibetans. In their social system, paternity and marriage are not the same as in our world. The main pillar of the family is the mother. The Mosuo culture is frequently described as matriarchal. While they have aspects of a matriarchal culture, in that women are, in many households, the head of the house; property is passed through the female line; and women tend to make the business decisions; yet political power tends to be in the hands of males, which disqualifies them as a true matriarchy. However, the women are clearly the center of this culture.
Matriarchal and Naga Societies
Naga tribes of Nagaland appear to belong to a race which resided in south-west China. While its main body migrated to Burma and Malaysia to Indonesian islands, it had sent a side stream into the hills of Assam. Naga is a generic term which is applied to several clusters of tribal groups inhabiting the states of Nagaland, Manipur etc. The Naga also belongs to the Indo mongoloid race. The Naga groups share common cultural features like the youth dormitory system, house pattern, disposal of dead, betel chewing habit, marriage pattern, life cycle rituals, traditional political organisation and clan system.
Nagas build their villages on hill tops. Naga village has been regarded as a small republic as every Naga village has existed as an independent village state or a small republic. The Naga built their granaries around their villages. The youth dormitory is known as Morung among the Nagas. It is an important centre around which the Naga folklore flourished. It is equally important as a residential and training centre for traditional art. Boy`s dormitory is known as Ikhuichi and Iloichi is the name for dormitory of the girls. Joint family is the traditional form though nuclear family has become a new trend. Agriculture is the main system which regulates the soil practice of the Naga tribes. Shifting cultivation and terrace cultivation are practiced. Agriculture is the main occupation of the Nagas. The practice of jhumming is done in two ways-first for paddy cultivation and second for growing vegetable like millet, maize, oil seeds, , chilies, pumpkin, Gourd, potato, brinjal, mustard, cucumber, beans, ginger and garlic. They also collect honey, resin, seeds, barks from the jungle and sell them in the market. The Nagas also produce a variety of wooden articles such as utensils, rice pounding tables, smoking pipes, musical instruments, cups and plates of various shapes and size. They engage in elaborate wood carvings for decorating their Morung. Nagas excel in making baskets and mats. They make earthen pots by hand alone. One of the major contributions of the Christian Church has been to liberate the Nagas from the fear of evil spirits and evils of head hunting and continuous warfare. The Nagas followed their traditional practices until they converted to Christianity. The traditional Nagas believed in various malevolent and benevolent spirits. They are polytheist or animist. By offering gifts and sacrifices these spirits are worshipped. The traditional religion of the Nagas is entirely social and individual in character. It is practical and revolves round the needs of the people. The Nagas do not care so much for life after death. Their festivals are related with their religion which is associated with their economic vocations, social and cultural ethos. They celebrate festivals in relation with different stages of agricultural activity. Gan Ngai is a post harvesting festival. This festival is also known as festival of lights. In
Matriarchal and Naga Societies
this festival, a farewell feast is celebrated for the spirit of those people who died in the previous year. Rih-Ngai is a war festival held for purifying village. Nanu is children`s ear boring festival. The ears of all children who were born during previous year in the village are pierced on this day. Gantham is a spring festival where they worship all the deities by offering animals. Napko or Napao is celebrated by the villagers as a whole. Ginkimei is a religious festival which is celebrated to please the goddess of wealth. The Nagas are known for their dance and songs. The Naga have been able to preserve their culture language, identity, traditions and customs through these songs and dances.