Mosuo women

A Yi woman near Lugu Lake.
Mosuo girl weaver in old-town Lijiang.

The Mosuo (Chinese: 摩梭; pinyin: Mósuō) are a small ethnic group living in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in China, close to the border with Tibet. Dubbed the 'Kingdom of Women' by the Chinese,[1]:2 the Mosuo population of about 50,000 live near Lugu Lake in the Tibetan Himalayas 27°42′35.30″N 100°47′4.04″E / 27°42′35.30″N 100°47′4.04″E / 27.7098056; 100.7844556.

Scholars use diverse terms and spellings to designate the Mosuo culture. Most prefer 'Mosuo' some spell it 'Moso', while a minority use neither term, but refer to them as the Na people.

The Mosuo people are known as the 'Kingdom of Women' because the Na are a matrilineal society: heterosexual activity occurs only by mutual consent and mostly through the custom of the secret nocturnal 'visit';[2] men and women are free to have multiple partners,[2] and to initiate or break off relationships when they please.[citation needed]

The origin of matrilineality/matriarchal

Introduction

Matrilineal cultures trace descent through the female line. It can also be considered a society in which one identifies with one's mother's lineage including familial lineage or property inheritance.

Matriarchal cultures are run by women. Women hold primary power, predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property at the specific exclusion of men, at least to a large degree.

Technically, Mosuo culture is matrilineal, but many anthropologists classify the Mosuo tribe as a "matriarchal society".[3] The Mosuo themselves sometimes use the term matriarchal to describe their culture in order to bring more tourism and interest into their culture. Mosuo culture does have characteristics of a matriarchal society, in that women are the head of the household, the property is passed down through the female line, and the women make business decisions; yet political power tends to be in the hands of males, disqualifying them from matriarchy status.[4] Nevertheless, some anthropologists, like Peggy Reeves Sanday, determine that societies like Mosuo are in fact matriarchies. They note that, rather than a simple mirror of a patriarchal society, a matriarchy "emphasizes maternal meanings where 'maternal symbols are linked to social practices influencing the lives of both sexes and where women play a central role in these practices'".[5] These scholars thus favour redefining and reintroducing the word matriarchy, especially in reference to modern matrilineal societies like the Mosuo.

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