So I was channel surfing this weekend and I came across a show on PBS that was talking about the Mosuo people of China. I’d never heard of them before, but what caught my interest was the statement about the matriarchal style of society that the Mosuo have. Apparently, the Mosuo people live in an area of the Himalayas around Lugu Lake in the Southern part of China.
What makes this society so unique is that they are one of the world’s few remaining matriarchies. Among the Mosuo people, the women are in charge of all aspects of their society. They lead their families, they raise the children, they control the finances and they rule when it comes to choosing their bedmates.
Among the Mosuo, the women practice what are called walking marriages. What does that mean? According to the documentary, the Mosuo women will give a signal to the man of their choosing and it lets him know that he is going to be walking with her to her room that night. The next morning, he will return to his mother’s home.
The marriages made by these women are not marriages as we would consider them because they do not have to stay with the same man for the rest of their lives. They can invite the same one as many times as they want or never invite him again. The men always live in the homes of their mothers and they help to take care of their sisters and the children their sisters have.
When a woman has a child, that child remains with her in her home and her brothers will help her to raise him. Interestingly enough, the father of the child has very little to do with his child, but the child is not deprived of a male influence because his uncles all live in the same home with their mother and their grandmothers.
What’s Even More Interesting
You may be wondering what can be more interesting than what I’ve already described about this particular society? The answer to that is their language. You see, in their language, there are no words for rape, war or murder and they don’t have any jails. This doesn’t mean that they don’t know these things, they do know what rape is — but the sentence for rape is execution and they do have a word for kill, still — it’s a nice concept.
No matter how peculiar you may think their society is – I have to admire that. I want to learn more about the Mosuo and their walking marriages. I’ll let you know what I find out. Have you ever heard of the Mosuo people?