Faces of Bougainville: Mother and Daughter

Happy International Women’s Day.

A Traveler's Tale

Jessie T. Ponce Photography “Mother and Child”; Autonomous Region of Bougainvile; December 2012

This image, my favorite amongst my Bougainville portraits, made me think  of the unusual role this mother and daughter play in the family.  Almost all the clans in Bougainville are matriarchal.  Intrigued by this unfamiliar practice, I had to ask a Bougainvillean woman colleague how it works and she summed it up like this:  “Mothers hold an important leadership role, not only in the family but also within the clan, especially when it comes to rights and ownership over ancestral lands.  Clan land has to be under the name and discretion of the clan’s woman elder.  Only female children are entitled to inheritance.   Men and boys may use the land to prosper the family but the ownership remains under the name of a woman.”   I truly wonder about the advantages and disadvantages of this arrangement compared to…

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  1. Shutter Bug · March 8, 2014

    Thanks for the reblog. Happy International Women’s Day to you!


    • Spinster · March 8, 2014

      You’re welcome, and thank you.


  2. philosophermouseofthehedge · March 9, 2014

    What an interesting post – lovely picture.
    How different from Saudi Arabia where women are leashed…and that attitude follows here – I’ve seen a grown woman/mother in a school parents’ meeting having to bow to a middle school boy/son’s orders as he was left “in charge while his father was out of the country. Defied logic and common sense, but it’s their tradition and culture so no one said anything. The respecting diversity thing, I guess
    Hawaii had women as rulers didn’t they?


    • Spinster · March 9, 2014

      Sure did (Hawaii).


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