Lugu Lake, Where Women Are in Charge

by Jim Goodman

A Mosuo woman is the "owner" of her labor.

Mosuo women, Lige village

Among Yunnan’s many physical attractions, the most beautiful body of water, butterfly-shaped, at 2700 meters altitude, covering 90 sq km, is Lugu Lake, in northern Ninglang County. The face of Lion Mountain towers another 1000 meters above the northern shore and five small islands speckle the lake’s surface. Even higher, snow-capped mountains tower in the distance. In good weather the scenery is so breath-taking it is easy to see why Lugu Lake is drawing so many tourists. But the scenery is not the only attraction. The district is home to the Mosuo people, a branch of the Naxi nationality, but differing in one important aspect—the Mosuo are mainly a matrilineal society, as are their Pumi neighbors, a rarity even in a land of great cultural diversity. Only the A clan, the smallest of the five Mosuo clans, is patrilineal. And that’s because they are descendants of the Mongol officers who stayed behind when Kubilai Khan conquered the area in the 13th century, married local women and became the ruling class.

The essence of matrilineal societies is that women inherit the property. It is they, not the men, who own the house, fields and immovable property. Descent is reckoned through the mother, with usually the youngest daughter being the heiress. If a Mosuo mother doesn't have a daughter she adopts one of her sister's daughters. All children belong to the mother and they, in turn, contribute their labor and loyalty to their mother's household. Elder daughters set up their own households, but sons do not. The latter remain attached to their mother's household even after they have set up conjugal relationships with women.

... ya better read the whole story on a society where only women are in charge.

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Lugu Lake, Where Women Are in Charge

                                                            by Jim Goodman     Among Yunnan’s many physical attractions, the most beaut...