Chinese Art & Language Classroom

China Tour -- 006: The Mosuo People of Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake is located on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan, 2,685 meters above sea level. The area of lake’s surface is 52 square kilometers.
I visited Lugu lake for the first time in 2004 and was then more interested in the beautiful scenery. Last week was my second visit, and this time I paid more attention to the culture of the local people.

Last Sunday, July 8, 2007, after flying for 2 hours and a bus journey of about 6.5 hours, we arrived at Lugu Lake in the rain.

Even though the weather was not very good, we still kept to our schedule and visited a Musuo family and learned something about this ancient and mysterious nation...

Mosuo People have a population of 50,000. They are famous for their unique customs and cultures:

First of all, Mosuo nation is the last surviving matriarchal society in the world and it still keeps its ancient matriachal traditions. In their world, women have the greatest rights as the highest rulers. Every family has a woman elder as their highest leader, responsible for all the important things of economy and life...

Secondly, instead of getting married, their girls and boys keep the tradition of "Zou Hun” -- Walking Marriage or Visiting Marriage, in which a girl and a boy can be lovers and have children together, but they never actually get married. As soon as a girl and a boy fall in love with each other, they can have a date in the girl's room and spend the nights together freely. The boy must then leave the girl's home in the morning and can not even eat there. Their children are raised by their uncles -- the girl’s brothers, and the boy has no responsibility in raising his own children...

Every evening, the brothers leave the clan house and the lovers enter; every morning, the lovers leave and the brothers come back. This is the typical matriarchal visiting marriage, which still exists among the Mosuo today. A Mosuo man has his rights and duties in the house of his mother, not in the house of his lover, where he is only a guest.

Lovers can end their relationship at any time; a woman may signal her change of heart by simply no longer opening the door.

Thirdly, Mosuo people's religion is Naturism. The Gamu Mountain is their Goddess Mountain. In August "Turn-Mountain Festival", the Mosuo people will come together, climbing the Gamu Mountain to show their respects. After dying Mosuo people are usually cremated. They believe that human body contains the soul which has to be freed from the dead body to become the "Skirt Soul" in Heaven. They also believe that a child has no soul yet, so if a child dies, the body is buried...

Even though I   had a very difficult journey from Shenzhen to Lugu Lake, first to Lijiang by airplane and by bus for about 6.5 hours, on a very bad mountain road, making me badly sick, I still felt good for having learned so many things about this mysterious nation.

To help you to learn something about the Mosuo, I have found some data for you. You can click on the links below to find them:

Mosuo People's Customs No. 1

Mosuo People's Customs No. 2

Mosuo People's Customs No.3


If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please write to shirley@ebridge.cn or shirleyz004@yahoo.com. You are also welcome to publish your opinions in Forum For Friends .

Shirley Zhang

Written and Edited on Sun, July 16, 2007

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