There existed two main types of family in primitive society-the mother- right family and the father-right family. A contrast between the two should be instructive.
Under the mother-right family the wife and under the father-right the husband is the pivot in which the family relationship turns. Under the mother family, the wife remains the member of her own family. Under the father family she passes of her family altogether, she is separated from her family cult and family-gods, her husband’s people and her husband’s good are her gods.
Under the mother family husband goes to live with the wife’s.people and the position is reversed, the children takes mother’s name and belong to her kindred. In mother-family it is brother of the wife who acts as guardian of those children and discharges all duties towards them. Mother’s brother is their natural guardian. The maternal kinfolks stand together in blood-bond. They and not the husband protect the wife and the children. They may even protect her and children form her husband himself.
Under the father-family it is the, relationship through the male which counts. The father is the natural guardian of the children and in case of divorce he retains them. It is to him and his kin that the wife and the children look up for protection. In mother-family relationship through mother is generally a bar to marriage. The degrees are not carried so far as on the masculine side. Even in father-family the wife’s family retains the right the property passes through the women if not to be woman. Under father- right family it goes from father to the son.
In the end it may be remarked that while in the father-right family woman’s status was at the lowest-ebb it was under the mother-right family that woman rose to the highest position they ever reached. It was at that time that they were the complete masters of the situation. They ruled over the family their voice was heard in the councils and they controlled the food. In the wake of the rise of the patriarchal family the influence slowly waived.
One most important point of contract between the two types of family is that whereas in the father-right family decent is determined through the father’s name, it is done through mother’s name in case of mother-right family. When all this is said and done one must admit that “favourable as the position of woman under the mother-right family appears on the surface, the truth it is not bar to complete legal subjection.”