Life of Khasi Tribe (Khasi Peple)

The people belonging to the Khasi Tribe lives in the Khasi and Jaintia Hill districts of Assam. They are famous all over the world as the best example extant today of a society which is nearest to being a matriarchy.

The Khasi tribes trace their descent from mythical female ancestress. In a family are to be found a mother, her unmarried children, male and female, her husband, her married daughters and their husband. The Khasi are matrilocal at the time of marriage, but late on, when a husband shows evidence of his ability to support himself, his wife and children, he may set up an independent household of his own. This is a condition which has been very probably the effect of contacts with, and in the case of many people conversion to, Christianity. A family may include an adopted daughter if all females have died out.

In the matrilocal family, all the earnings of males and females are owned jointly and administered by the head woman. According to the traditional law, man have no individual right to ownership, whether they are husbands or sons. Property is inherited by women from women.

Khasi family life is woven into religious ritual and ceremonial. Since brothers and sons will migrate to their wives’ homes and since husbands are aliens, men have no role to play in these rituals and ceremonies. The Khasi say that it is the youngest daughter who ‘holds the religion, and, therefore, gets the major share of parental property. The absence of a daughter has, therefore, to be filled in through adoption. Women enjoy high status and power. The economic life of the Khasi is, therefore, characterized by division of labor based on sex. Thus, agriculture is carried on mostly by males and weaving by females. However, both sexes may earn money as porters.

However, men-folk are respected and even exercise some authority. The all-powerful Khasi woman addresses her husband as her lord.

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