The unique family structure of Mosuo

In China, there is a fantastic place called Lugu Lake where is a legendary pure land surrounded by mountains and located in the North West Yunnan Province. If you want to go Lake Lugu isn’t easy. The inconvenient traffic leads to the isolation from the outside world helped the tribe keep their customs and culture intact. Fortunately, I have been there many years ago and attention to Mosuo culture at the first time.


(Lugu Lake, Zoe Chen, 2011)


(Map of Lugu Lake)

The most numerous of these are the Mosuo people who are a kind of China’s ethnic minorities and they have their own language. The lake is also well known “The Women’s Kingdom” is home to the Mosuo where women rule and the dominant role of the Mosuo women in their society. Moose people still maintain the continuance of traditional culture, walking marriages to now.

“It is the role of Mosuo women that sets them apart from other cultures: they don’t marry. Instead, womenfolk take a series of lovers throughout their lives, and the children of these ‘walking marriages’ remain in their mothers’ homes under a matriarch’s supervision. “( 

Walking marriage is based on love, it should a peacefully and free relationship. Mosuo people don’t  believe in marriage and don’t  marry in the traditional way. In their own words, marriage license likes a handcuff to yourself.


(大连晚报, 2011)


  • Reflection

Nowadays, due to the world of increasing communications and fusions of cultures and the society is being prosperous daily lead to a series of social problems. More and more tourists come to the hometown of Mosou and the invasion of other culture. As a result, tourism provides Mosuo people a good opportunity to make money, improve their living conditions. On the other hand, walking marriages will gradually fade away and the value of young Mouso have changed. The young people want to go out explore and raising a family of they own. 

There was a Mosuo man as my tour guide during my journey of Lugu Lake. He told me he is a father for 3 children who come from different families.  He and his children occasionally meet, also offer some child-support payments for children‘s family based on the special father-child relations. But he still took on his “father’s duty” for his sister’s children. This is his responsibility as a male in his family.

In my opinion, the social high-speed development, people’s value also in the change, the material, the money, the status also as if already turn the weight love the standard. Mosuo culture insists on free love, love not because of who you are, because of who I am when I am with you. But, Different impact the social values of local culture, young people to the relationship with different understanding and values. Mosuo young people look forward to the new way of life and love,  expect to break through the original cultural values of the BOX which mean must be living with old grandmother and the big family, a lifetime without marriage. This is a big controversy, how to protect our own family? If we living in Lugu Lake where is the hometown of Mosuo, with the concept of traditional life here without different values. I believe human will come back to the original, the most simple values of love and family. On the other hand, when Mosul life of rules mixing other cultural values rules, the human weakness will exploit loopholes of Mosul life. I’m not sure the new values involved in their original life, it will MUST improve the Mosuo’s way of life.

The unique family structure of Mosuo different from ordinary family values. The lack of live-in fathers shouldn’t be taken as evidence that the Mosuo don’t value family life. Mosou man as a son, a brother, an uncle is responsible for protecting and educating children of his sister in the big family. However, I believe the parents are the first teacher for children. As parents not only teach children new skills of life but also they are the good example to display how to love each other. The unique family structure is around women: the women make all the important decisions, control the family’s resources, run the household. They are proud of being girls. They have found some form of gender balance in their traditional way.


Free Love | National Geographic: 2008.

Leaving the Motherland: 2003.,9171,526551,00.html.

纪录片《女人王国》(Documentory Film – KINGDOM OF WOMEN): 2017.

走进“女儿国” 感受原生态: 2011.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s