The Powerful “Kingdom of Girls”


Ibapyntngen in the cottage. (Karolin Klüppel)

Mawlynnong is about 90 kilometres from the capital of Meghalaya, Shillong, India. Mawlynnong is over hundred years old, keeping the surrounding environment clean an age old tradition. The society is matrilineal making women economically powerful. The Khasi trival inhabitans are known to be worshippers of nature which make them the main occupation of the villagers is agriculture.[1]

Wanda on the stairs to the treehouse, 2013. (Karolin Klüppel)

This Discover India Magazine declared the village as the cleanest in Asia in 2003, brought a Berlin-based photographer, Karolin Klüppel was travelled to india to document the phonemenon – tribes in the east Khasi Hills, Mawlynnong is located home to just 95 houses and a population of around 500.

Yasmin, playing at the river, 2014. (Karolin Klüppel)

In the Khasi tribe, when the youngest daughter inherits the family’s wealth and property, which men rarely own. The system also dictates that children take their mother’s surname and once a man marries, he lives in this mother-in-law’s home. A family with only sons is considered unlucky, Klüppel reports.[2]

Grace with dry fish, 2013. (Karolin Klüppel)

Grace in my dress, 2014. (Karolin Klüppel)

“To Disrespect a woman in this culture means to harm the society. Daughters are often more wanted than boys, and a family with just sons is considered to be miserable, because only daughters can assure the continuity of a clan.” Klüppel said in a statement to In Sight and Violet[3] magazine.

Ibapyntngen, playing, 2013. (Karolin Klüppel)

Steam, 2013. (Karolin Klüppel)

Karolin Klüppel saw this inverted world of herself. For nine months spanning two years lived with different Khasi families.

Klüppel says some, upset by their second-class status, are calling for gender equality. But mostly she was struck by “the respect that Khasi men have for women,” which is at the heart of this photo series. “I want everyone to know about cultures that are different from the patriarchal world we live in – and I want people to question that system.”[5]

Phida with balloon, 2013. (Karolin Klüppel)