Where women rule: the last matriarchy in Europe – in pictures

All text and photos are from The Guardian

“Big Heart, Strong Hands is the story of women on the isolated Estonian islands of Kihnu and Manija in the Baltic Sea. Often viewed as the last matriarchal society in Europe, the older women there take care of almost everything on land as their husbands travel the seas – Anne Helene Gjelstad’s Big Heart, Strong Hands is published by Dewi Lewis”

2953Vahtra Helju, 2008 by Anne Helene Gjelstad.

“Vahtra Helju had a modest wish. She wanted to be photographed with her beloved cow. And so I learned how sweet, personal and curious cows really are.”

2953 (1)Järsumäe Virve 2013 by Anne Helene Gjelstad.

“Järsumäe Virve has always loved animals and all living creatures. She doesn’t know how many cats she now has, and even the neighbours’ cats come to her to eat. She has two dogs and a horse that runs free on her property in the warm season. When we first became friends she also had two goats and loved drinking straight from the mug just after she had milked them. She explained how healthy this was and graciously shared the warm milk with me.”

2953 (2)Saundi Mann, 2010 by Anne Helene Gjelstad.
2953 (3)Järsumäe Virve 2008, Anne Helene Gjelstad.

“Järsumäe Virve regularly appears on TV and in the papers. At the age of 81 she fulfilled her life’s dream of going tandem skydiving. And because she is such a sweet and warm woman, everybody wants a piece of her. Often foreigners drive around Kihnu Island looking for Virve’s house and quite often, to protect her privacy, the other islanders send visitors in the wrong direction.”

View the full article here.

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