Blog: Kingdom of women in China

AlHounida Alassad Albalooshi

If you believed that matriarchal societies had been phased out, think again.For more than 2,000 years, up to this day, there has been a matriarchal community from the Mosuo tribe, made up of some 30 to 50 thousand people, that has lived by the shores of the Lugu Lake in southern China, near the border between the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. They have always stood by their rather uncommon customs and traditions, and continue to do so.

The women are the rulers, whereas the men lack any social power. Every morning, the women go out to perform their demanding tasks, while the men are happy just watching them, carrying out the household chores and, occasionally going hunting.

This Chinese kingdom of women is under the authority of a woman, who determines what is allowed and what is forbidden. Moreover, she fulfills roles in most things that are elsewhere accorded only to a man. In fact, words such as ‘father’ have no meaning in this tribe and are, therefore, not in their lexicon. Children are brought up by mothers; consequently, blood relationships are determined by motherhood.

Men are invested of little social value or significance. In the laws of their kingdom, inheritance is only a woman’s right, or pejorative. Possessions are passed on from mothers to daughters, or from female to female only, but they are never the patrimony of men or boys. for this nation believes that only women can be heads of families and proprietors in the family. Consequently, the men cannot be heirs and have secondary roles. For example, they are only allowed to live in a woman’s house (without ever being able to own it). Furthermore, men are guests because not only does the word ‘marriage’ not have any real meaning, it is also forbidden. Whoever wishes to use the word is fined.

One of the strangest customs and traditions of this community is that dogs are considered members of the family. As a result, unlike in most Chinese towns where people are allowed to eat dogs, in this tribe such a practice has been outlawed. To them, killing a dog would be similar to killing a relative.

Another interesting practice of theirs is that whenever someone from the tribe dies, they are burned with their private possessions.

Despite there being no marriage, assaults perpetrated against women are unknown in this community because women are the ones who decide what relationships they wish to establish. We could say that this is an exemplary society. It has deserved special mention at the United Nations for not having problems which are elsewhere usually associated with women’s rights, such as feuds between women and men, and conflicts regarding property or inheritance.

Finally, it is interesting to know that the Chinese government does not interfere with the customs and traditions of this community because the local men are
satisfied and happy with the state of affairs. Moreover, they are proud of their lives, which they value just as they are (and have always been).

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