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How did the Matrilineal system of Kerala work? | Thiruvananthapuram

In the 1800s, the Kingdom of Travancore followed the matrilineal system. This meant that the king’s heir was his nephew, not his son. His sister was the queen, not his wife. This inheritance system was followed not only by the royals but also by most Hindu communities in Kerala. This system had its advantages and disadvantages. This is the story of the matrilineal system of Kerala.

In the 1800s, in the Kingdom of Travancore in Kerala, a king’s son could never hope to be king. Instead the crown passed from the king to his nephew. That’s how the matrilineal system worked. The king’s wife was called an Ammachi and she was not even considered a royal. She lived outside the palace, in a house called the ammaveedu. Who was the queen then? This is the story of the matrilineal system of Kerala.

Thanjavur ammaveedu http://ddarchitects.in/portfolioentry/tanjavur-amma-veedu/

Sketch of ‘A Nair’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nair#/media/File:Daniel_Thomas-A_Nair.jpg By Daniel Thomas (1749-1840) – http://www.artnet.com/artists/thomas-daniell/a-standing-soldier-a-nair-two-seated-musicians-KMaAXA3lGlZ3mVehxDQ9MA2 Public domain

A Garo woman 1912 : Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garo_people#/media/File:A_Garo_woman.jpg Public domain

Young Garo girls in 2016 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garo_people#/media/File:Young_Garo_Girl%E2%80%99s_With_there_Traditional_Dress.jpg Picture by Vishma thapa via wikipedia . CC by 4.0.

Lakshmi Bayi of Travancore https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Bharani_Thirunal_Lakshmi_Bayi Public Domain

Geographic_subject_Najer_-caste_-_people_-_Nayar_women_having_mealhttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f9/Geographic_subject_%2C_Najer_-caste_-_people_-_Nayar_women_having_meal.jpg

Swathi thirunal – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swathi_Thirunal_Rama_Varma#/media/File:Swathi_Thirunal_of_Travancore.jpg – By Stephen Crening, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39282094 

Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (Queen that signed the Nair regulation)https://en.wikipediam.org/wiki/Sethu_Lakshmi_Bayi#/media/File:SethuLakshmiBayi.jpg

Travancore in the Madras Presidency in 1859 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travancore#/media/File:Madras_Prov_1859.gif By Unknown author, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7265173

Nair women 1914 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nair_Women_(1914).jpg#/media/File:Nair_Women_(1914).jpg By Clain and Perl studio, Madras. Copyright by Basel Mission – http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/- USC Digital library. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20372701 Public domain

Khasi Girls https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrilineal_society_of_Meghalaya#/media/File:Khasi_Girls.jpg By Bogman – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17152165 

Kodial Guthu family (circa 1900)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunt_(community)#/media/File:Buntfamilyofkodialguttu.jpg By Anonymous – http://www.daijiworld.com/chan/exclusive_arch.asp?ex_id=442, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10848856 

:Ammachee_wife_of_His_Highness_the_Maharaja_of_Travancore https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ammachee_wife_of_His_Highness_the_Maharaja_of_Travancore_1868.jpg – By Nicholas Brothers : Madras & Ootacamund (photographer) – Royal Collection RCIN 2701537, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38786334

Bharani_Thirunal_Lakshmi_Bayi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharani_Thirunal_Lakshmi_Bayi#/media/File:Bharani_Thirunal_Lakshmi_Bayi_1885.jpg By Creator: Unknown Person (photographer) – Royal Collection RCIN 2907286, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38785663 

Rani_Bharani_Thirunal_Lakshmi_Bayi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharani_Thirunal_Lakshmi_Bayi#/media/File:Rani_Bharani_Thirunal_Lakshmi_Bayi_of_Travancore_(1848%E2%80%931901).jpg By Raja Ravi Varma – https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/maharani-lakshmi-bayi-raja-ravi-varma/QQELuTuxfIagcA, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17903387 

Flag of Travancore https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travancore#/media/File:Flag_of_Kingdom_of_Travancore.svg By Washiucho – File:Travancore State Flag.png, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9653509 


Group_photo_of_a_Nair_family_on_the_Malabar_coast_of_India_-_1928 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Group_photo_of_a_Nair_family_on_the_Malabar_coast_of_India_-_1928.JPG 

16th_Century_Malabarese_Nayar.png https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:16th_Century_Malabarese_Nayar.png


Attingal Palace – http://archaeology.kerala.gov.in/monuments/koyikkal-palace/40 


Kerala backwaters – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_backwaters

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