In the lush jungles of northeastern India, hard against the Bangladesh border, is a tiny village with an unconventional social order. Mawlynnong is where about 500 members of the indigenous Khasi tribe still follow ancient matrilineal traditions. Where succession, money, property, and power pass from mother to daughter. Where girls—literally—rule their roosts.
Karolin Klüppel wanted to see this inverted world for herself. So for nine months spanning two years, the Berlin-based photographer lived with different Khasi families in the “unbelievably clean, calm, and peaceful” village. What she found was a culture in which youngest daughters (called khadduh) inherit wealth and property, husbands move into their wives’ homes, and children take their mother’s surname.
Girls go to school in the village until they’re teens, though some move to the state capital at 11 or 12 for further education. After that they attend college or
return to Mawlynnong, where they care for their parents. They may marry whomever they choose; there is no stigma attached to divorce or opting to stay single.