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Matrilineality is a way of identifying kinship ancestry through the mother or female line. A matriline is essentially a mother's line, which traces the descent from a female ancestor to an individual. Patrilineality is a way identifying ancestry through the father or male line. A patriline is essentially a father's line, which traces the descent from a male ancestor to an individual.

The use of these systems often involves inheritance of names and of possessions and a way of identifying kin. The system of patrilineal descent is usually more common than matrilineal descent.