To promote the use of art for raising awareness about the developing world
Where women rule ! ... by Simon & Katerina
See latest photos from our trip on our - Facebook page.
Today, the 'Peoples Republic of China' is a burgeoning economic super power where the male dominated Han society rules supreme. High in the Himalayas in Southwest China, however, the Mosuo tribe have somehow survived the conditioning of Communist reforms, and managed to preserve their matrilineal system, which includes the highly controversial practise of ‘walking marriage’!
Matriarchal strength... High
- All children belong to the mother - fathers do not exist.
- Men and women are free to choose their sexual partners, based on love.
- Women are equal to men and make major decisions in life.
- The most capable daughter inherits the family property.
Threats to the system... Medium
- Tourism is turning Lugo Lake turning a sex theme park.
- The expanding consumer culture of China is making Mosuo society more patriarchal.
- Mosuo who travel outside to study, often leave the culture behind.
“If all the women leave, all the men will jump in the lake”, says one of the Mosuo boat men, who rows tourists out to a Buddhist monastery in the middle of the lake.
“It is true, we do not marry, but we have long term relationships and feel we have equal rights. This is our culture; we do not feel it is unfair.”
The boatman continues on another tack...
“The impression tourists get from our culture, however, is that relationships are casual and free, but this is not the true picture;
Are there any prostitute houses here ?
Yes, up near the police station, but that is for Han Chinese only not for Mosuo.
The popular misconception that the Mosuo are promiscuous is often blamed on the famous Mosuo celebrity - Yang Erche Namu.
Namu became the first Mosuo to study at the prestigious Shanghai Music College. Since then she has became a famous singer, outspoken model, writer and TV celebrity.
Despite these achievements, however, she continues to remind everyone that she is Mosuo, and comes from the beautiful Lugo Lake, or 'Mother Lake' as she likes to call it.
Although, she dismisses her provocativeness as 'this is how I am', many Chinese men now see the Mosuo women as exotic, promiscuous and free.
We visit a few of the prostitute houses outside Da Luoshoi.
In one of them I find two Han Chinese businessmen drinking, and three scantily dressed girls sat behind the bar watching a Chinese soap. A policeman and self-proclaimed guide to the local nightlife, explains jokingly he has a child by one of the bar girls.
“Ah… you are looking for a Mosou girl," he says to me, "we will send for one”.
He takes me to the door and points to some lights down by the lake.
"250 Yuan (25 pounds)", he says, and a girl behind the bar gets out a phone...
There are roughly 35,000 Mosuo, most live close to Lugo Lake, a prestine Himalayan lake at 3000m altitude.
The Mosuo have their own native religion called Daba, but most of them are now Tibetan Buddhists.
Until recently they have been an isolated minority, but now with the expanding tourism industry, the local Government has placed a toll of 7 dollars to enter the region.
Back in Da Luoshoi we talk to Shama, a hardworking lady who runs the family guesthouse where we are staying - ‘Home of the Goddess.’
“My mum is in charge of the family,” she says humbly, “I have a long term visiting husband from another big family here in Luoshoi and have one daughter with him”.
“All my family is traditional, they have not married anyone from outside. My friend’s family, however, have children who have studied outside and have married outsiders and left the culture.”
How will you keep your daughter from leaving the culture?
“I hope that she will go to study outside and will bring her husband back here. But, if she decides to stay there, what can I do ?"
"When you go to the University and learn lots of things, there is not much for you to do back here.”
Mosuo culture washing down the Yangtsi River.
Please feel free to leave your comments - we appreciate all feed back - Thank you...