Kingdom of Women

22 12 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italian photographer Luca Locatelli documents the lives of the Mosuo tribe, often described as one of the last matriarchal societies in the world.

Women from the Mosuo tribe do not marry, take as many lovers as they wish and have no word for “father” or “husband”.

The Mosuo people’s ancient history is identified with Lugu Lake and they are famous for their matriarchal traditions and “walking marriages,” where marriage is not sacrosanct as women exercise the right to choose and change their husbands at will. There are around 90,000 Mosuos, mostly concentrated around Lugu Lake. Azu marriage is the way of living of the Mosuo people, and Azu in the local Mosuo language (which does not have its own script) means “intimate sweet heart”. It is a convenient arrangement in which the partners come and go as they like. Three types of Azu marriages have been mentioned namely, the “travelling marriage,” which is marriage without cohabitation; and the second type is the marriage with cohabitation that have developed into deep feelings after living under “travelling marriage” practice; they then live together and raise children as a family.

The third type of marriage, which is linked to the history of Mongolian people occupying Lugu Lake who inculcated the practice of monogamous marriage among the Mosuo people, is called “One on one marriage.” However, in all the three types of marriages, women have the rightful ownership of land, houses and full rights to the children born to them. The children carry their mother’s family name and pay greatest respect to their mothers who in turn enjoy high social status. The male companions are known as “axias” and they work for the women.

Lugu Lake is located in the North West Yunnan plateau in China. The middle of the lake forms the border between the Ninglang County of Yunnan Province and the Yanqing County of Sichuan province. It is an alpine lake at an elevation of 2,685 metres (8,809 ft) and is the highest lake in the Yunnan Province, surrounded by mountains and it has five islands, four peninsulas, fourteen bays and seventeen beaches.

The lake’s shores are inhabited by many minority ethnic groups, such as the Mosuo, Norzu, Yi, Pumi and Tibetan. The most numerous of them all are the Mosuo people, with an ancient family structure considered “a live fossil for researching the marital development history of Human beings” and “the last quaint Realm of Matriarchy.” The matriarchal and matrilineal society of the Mosuos is also termed the “Women’s World.”

(excerpts from Wikipedia)

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