Mosuo: A Mysterious Matriarchal Group in China
As a source of spiritual guidance, this religion is deeply rooted in the
daily lives of the Mosuo people, who believe that their sacred gods have
protected them in the past and will protect them in the future.
Axia Marriage and the Matriarchal Family
There are three kinds of marriage patterns among the Mosuo people: the
traditional Axia system (visiting marriage), Axia cohabitation
Monogamy only exists among urban Mosuo people and other Mosuo villages
inhabited by many ethnic groups. People around Lugu Lake and the Yongning area
still widely practice the Axia marriage.
A Mosuo wedding
The traditional Axia system is marriage-free. Mosuo men call their
beloved women Axia ("intimate companion") and women call their lovers
Azhu. They are not bound by marriage and will live in their mothers'
homes all their lives. Every adult Mosuo girl has a special Azhu house
of her own where her lover can visit during the night but must leave early the
next morning. If the girl wishes to stop the love affair she simply closes the
door and then the man will not return. The lovers have no economic or legal
ties: Their relationship is based only on mutual love and affection, where the
will of the female is highly respected. If children are born into the family,
they belong exclusively to the mother's side and inherit her surname. They are
raised with their mother and uncles and are not introduced to their father until
their adult ceremony.
The matriarchal family has the following advantages:
First of all, there are no complex
relationships; the relations among family members are simple. As a result, there
are fewer conflicts.
Secondly, since women serve as the heads of the
families, they are in charge of most of the work and handle property matters,
while uncles look after the boys. Such a blood-based connection may prove to be
more stable than the love-based marriage of duty. Thus, every family is
harmonious and united.