Mawlynnong isn’t like the rest of India, or the rest of the world for that matter. Tucked into the jungle of the northeast Indian state of Meghalaya, on the border of Bangladesh, the village is home to the indigenous Khasi people. Theirs is a matrilineal society, where women inherit land, children take their mothers’ names, and men marry into their wives’ family homes. This social organization is striking in India, where sons are usually preferred without question. In Mawlynnong, a family with just sons is considered unlucky, because only daughters can assure the continuity of a clan. The succession after maternal line guarantees girls and women in Meghalaya a unique economic and social independence compared to general Indian conditions. To disrespect a woman in the khasi culture means to harm the society.
The setting is also unique: lush, and so well-cared for, tourists across India visit to marvel at the lack of trash. There are just 95 houses and a population of around 500, all of whom can read and write, and their homes have a toilet.
The girls and young women of Mawlynnong attracted the attention of Berlin-based photographer Karolin Klüppel, who originally travelled to Mawlynnong to study these eco-friendly habits among the people. Last year, the German photographer traveled there to photograph the girls of the village in their homes and outdoors. In her series “Mädchenland,” or “girl-land,” Klüppel shows her subjects in classically girlish poses. She did this to highlight how adult they actually are.
Be sure to check out Karolin’s work here.