Tradition and transformation of culture in a matrilineal society: A Study on the Rabha tribe of West Bengal

  • Dr. Suchismita Sen Chowdhury
Keywords: women, Rabha, matriliny, transformation, tradition, clan, family, kinship


When the descent is traced through mother’s line it is called matrilineal. There are a few matrilineal communities in the world. For example, Trobriand Islanders, Ashanti of Ghana, Bemba of Zambia (a sect of Bantu), Minangkabau of Sumatra and so on. In India there are matrilineal tribes like Khasi, Garo, Jayantia and the Rabha, residing mainly in the north eastern states. Among them Rabha and Garo tribes are found in West Bengal. The objective of the study was to understand the tradition and change connected to the matrilineal aspects of the Rabha society. The Rabha are mainly concentrated in Alipurduar district of West Bengal. The present study was done in a forest village of Alipurduar district. The study was based on primary data collected through field work. It was mainly dependent on qualitative data gathered through anthropological research methodologies like observation, genealogy, case study and interview. It has been observed that the traditional matrilineal societies are undergoing changes mainly due to influence of the neighbouring patrilineal communities. Changes could be observed in family, kinship and clan structure. The women in the Rabha family have a special position. They participate in economic activities and local political system. But modern outlook towards life, inter-caste marriage, change in religious beliefs etc. are influencing transformation of Rabha tribe from matriliny to patriliny.


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How to Cite
Sen Chowdhury, D. S. (2021). Tradition and transformation of culture in a matrilineal society: A Study on the Rabha tribe of West Bengal. International Bilingual Journal of Culture, Anthropology and Linguistics, 3(1-2), 38-62. Retrieved from