Matriarchal Societies

Matriarchs have existed worldwide. Presumably they developed in East Asia and spread over waterways as agricultural societies. A matriarchal society structure is even found in the Paleolithic. Later on, a differentiated definition of the society structures was developed in the Neolithic Age, based on agriculture. From 7000 years before our time until the Bronze Age in 1400, early, middle and late forms (Amazons) of matriarchal societies have existed.

The replacement of matriarchy by patriarchy lasted for centuries. The time of upheaval started in the Iron Age with the invasion of the Indo-Europeans in the Middle East and Mediterranean area. The causes are still to be identified; there are several theories why there was the building of governance structures. Matriarchal elements still exist in folklore, especially in borderlands.

Matriarchal organized peoples still exist. The most popular ones are the Mosuo in China, the Minangkabau in Indonesia and the Khasi in India. However, their existence is in danger in many respects.

In South and Central America there are the Juchitecs (Mexico), the Kagaba in Columbia and the Cuna in Panama, as well as the indigenous peoples in Brazil and Amazonia.

In North America there is a growing literature on the research of indigenous peoples. It ranges from the Mohicans over the Natchez, Omaha, Apaches and Huron to the Pueblos. The most known are the Hopi.

In contrast, in Europe the writings are limited to peoples like the Basque, Bretons, the Baltic people and Siberia. Matriarchals were thoroughly eradicated or taken over. Nevertheless, there is a rich literature of European folklore that passes on the remnants of matriarchals.

In Asia the refugee areas of some peoples were maintained, for example the people of southwest and west China as well as the Masuo mentioned above. This almost classic matriarchy is well known throught several publications. In India there are the Khasi of the Mountains of Assam, as well as the Jaintia and Garo, the Adivasi, the gypsies and the Naya of Malabar, which only show a few elements of matriarchy. Furthermore, there are research reports from Nepal, Tibet, Indonesia (the Minangkabau), Malaysia, as well as Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

In the South Pacific there are the Trobariand Islands and Polynesia, Hawaii, Palau, Melanesia and the Australian aborigines.

In Africa there are the Luapula in Zambia, the Ashanti and the Akan in Ghana, the Ila in Zimbabwe, the Yoruba and the Bidjogo in West Africa; numerous matriarchal peoples. In the north there are the Tuareg people and the Kabylei and the Sudan.

That list is not exhaustive. Discover further interesting examples by browsing through the online catalog of the MatriArchiv.

Heide Göttner-Abendroth: Das Matriarchat II, Teil 1+2, Stuttgart, Kohlhammer 1991, 2000.


Caliban und die Hexe

Silvia Federici: Caliban und die Hexe. Frauen, der Körper und die ursprüngliche Akkumulation. Wien: Mandelbaum, 2012. 315 S.

Caliban und die Hexe ist eine Geschichte des weiblichen wie auch des kolonialisierten Körpers während des Übergangs zum Kapitalismus. Ausgehend von den Bauernaufständen des späten Mittelalters und dem Aufstieg der mechanischen Philosophie untersucht Federici die kapitalistische Rationalisierung der gesellschaftlichen Reproduktion.

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Berggöttinnen der Alpen

Heide Göttner-Abendroth: Le società matriarcali. Studi sulle culture indigene del mondo.

Roma, Venexia 2013. 709 Seiten.

“All’inizio le madri” e non “il dominio delle madri”, in forma speculare al patriarcato: questo sono le società matriarcali, che stanno all’inizio delle civiltà umane e ancora oggi sono diffuse in tutti i continenti. Il libro, frutto di una lunga ricerca sul campo e degli studi di ricercatori indigeni, dopo un excursus teorico sulla letteratura sui matriarcati, documenta in profondità il funzionamento, le finalità e l’estetica delle società improntate ai valori materni.

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Ave Dea - 13 Göttinnen

Jill Cook (Hrsg.): Ice Age Art. Arrival of the Modern Mind.

London: British Museum, 2012. 288 S. Erscheint anlässlich der gleichnamigen Ausstellung im British Museum vom 7.2-26.5.2013

This unique book explores the extraordinary sculpture and drawings created during the last European Ice Age, between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago the oldest known figurative art in the world. Over 100 objects are featured alongside stunning illustrations, including small but exquisite sculptures made from mammoth ivory, engraved drawings, and jewellery from the age of the great painted caves, in addition to celebrated masterpieces. Featured are the “Swimming Reindeer” (13,000 years old), the so called “Willendorf Venus” (25,000 years old) and the “Vogelherd horse” (32,000 years old), examining them in a new light.

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Critical Review of the Exhibition by Annine van der Meer:

Review of the Exhibition


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