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The Women's Kingdom -- that's how some people describe Lugu Lake, home to the Mosuo, one of China's smaller minority groups. It is a somewhat exaggerated description, but the Mosuo are nevertheless one of the most unique cultures I've ever experienced.|
The Mosuo are a matriarchal culture (well, actually, they are matrilineal, but its a relatively small point), in which women are the head of the household, and own the property. They practice $$an Buddhism, as well as their own native religion called Da Ba.
But what they are most famous for is their practice of "walking marriages". In traditional Mosuo culture, couples do not get married...instead, the women simply pick partners as they wish. A woman may choose to have one lover her whole life, or she may choose to have many different lovers (the latter choice being more common)...but she will never get married.
The Mosuo also live in one of the poorest regions of China. Many Mosuo villages still have no electricity; most of them have no running water. Average annual income is RMB 500-1000. The quality of education offered to most children is abysmally poor.
I have recently set up a non-profit organization to work with the Mosuo, and help them address some of their more serious needs. This organization is run by the Mosuo themselves -- all that I do is help them find money/resources to accomplish their most immediated goals. Some of the projects we have begun, or plan to begin soon:
* The Mosuo have their own unique oral language, but no written form of their language. We are bringing in linguistic professionals to help them develop a written form of their language.
* We are setting up women's training centers, to train young women in various skills that they can use to make more money. Our first training center trains women how to hand weave traditional Mosuo clothing/fabrics, and then we help them sell it in neighboring tourist centers like Lijiang and Kunming
* Because there are not enough qualified teachers living in that area, many of the schools use local volunteer teachers. But many of these volunteers themselves have never finished high school. We plan to send in professional trainers to work with these volunteers, and help improve their own knowledge and skills, so that they can pass that on to their students. We also plan to help provide more qualified teachers in future.
* We are setting up artist exchange programs, where we invite international artists -- painters, writers, musicians, etc. -- to spend time living at Lugu Lake, then produce something that reflects their experience there.
There are many other things that we are planning to do. If you're interested to get more information, please go to the Mosuo Website (www.mosuoproject.org/forum), where you'll find far more detailed information about the Mosuo, their culture, their situation, and our work with them.
And for anyone who is interested to see the Mosuo for themselves, we are planning a trip to Lugu Lake during the Spring Festival, from Jan. 31-Feb. 5. Anyone who wants to join us is welcome...the more, the better!
[ Last edited by canadianguy at 2005-12-21 11:33 PM ]