In the state of Meghalaya in India, the indigenous people of the Khasi form the majority of the population. The Khasi are a matrilineal society—in other words, family ties are determined by the mother, not the father. Indeed, throughout Khasi society, it is girls who are of particular importance and who play the key role in the family.

Another unusual aspect is that the line of succession passes through the youngest (daughter), rather than the oldest son, which we are accustomed to in the Western world. If and when the youngest daughter marries, her husband is taken into her family’s house and the children take their mother’s name.

A family with just sons is considered miserable because only daughters can assure the continuity of a clan. For my series “Mädchenland” I spent nine months in the village of Mawlynnong in northeast India. In my photos, I chose to concentrate on the girls themselves by contextualizing them in their everyday physical environment.

—Karolin Klüppel