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Mosuo Culture and Special Exhibition, April 22 [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2006-4-12 00:16:05 |Display all floors
My abiding passion is in learning about different cultures; I work as a cross-cultural consultant, and have travelled extensively in China, visiting many different regions and many different minorities.

One minority that has particularly captured my interest, and my passion, is the Mosuo culture.  Although not very well-known, they are a very unique culture.  They have many aspects of matriarchal cultures, with women in charge of the family, owning all property, etc.  They also do not practice marriage; instead, women can choose (and change) partners as they please in a system called "zou hun" or "walking marriage".

One and a half years ago, I began working with the Mosuo to set up a non-profit organization to support them in their endeavors.  They live in one of the poorest regions of China, high in the Himalayan Mountains, on the border of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces.  Many villages still have no electricity; most have no running water.  Average annual income is around RMB 500-1000.

In January of this year, we completed registration of the Lugu Lake Mosuo Cultural Development Association.  We have established our website at, which I would encourage everyone to check out.  It has detailed information about the Mosuo culture, about our organization, and about the projects we plan to do.

On April 22, we will be holding an Art Exhibition in Ritan Park, to publicize our organization, and to raise funds for our work.  This will be a rather unique art exhibition, done in partnership with Montessori Schools; the "artwork" will be drawings and paintings done by local schoolchildren (from both international and Chinese schools), and the idea is that you "buy" a painting for a voluntary fee (whatever you want to give), and the money goes to support our work.  In addition, we will have a special exhibit of paintings done by Mosuo schoolchildren.

Throughout the day, we will have other activities, such as singing/dancing by Mosuo women, talks about Mosuo culture, and introductions about our organization and our work by several of the Mosuo members of our organization.  We will also be showing various movies and documentaries about the Mosuo throughout the day, and the directors of one of the documentaries will be there to talk about her time with the Mosuo, and the making of her documentary.

All in all, this should be a great day, and provide lots of entertainment and information for those who are interested in learning about one of China's most unique minority groups.  It is free to attend, no invitation is needed, and you can come/leave at any time you like (the art exhibition will be held all day, from approximately 9:00-5:00).

I'd also encourage you to pass this information on to your friends; the more people who come, the better!

Hope to see you there!

[ Last edited by canadianguy at 2006-4-12 12:19 AM ]

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Post time 2006-4-12 07:58:36 |Display all floors


I'm quite interested in that.

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Rank: 6Rank: 6

Post time 2006-4-12 08:30:24 |Display all floors

Great Job, Canadianguy!

Mosuo culture is a treasure for human beings, especially for their maternal clan traditions.

I am just wondering what kind of written language you are going to "create" for them at last.

April 22 is a Saturday, I will ask someone to Ritan Park to "buy" some paintings as a donation since I am not in China now.

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Post time 2006-4-12 09:14:21 |Display all floors

thank you :-)

Catbird -- thanks!

simba -- thanks for posting the pic of the Mosuo symbols; I should clarify that those symbols do not represent a written language, they are symbols used in the Mosuo religion (called Daba).  It would be similar to the symbol of the cross, or the dove, in the Christian religion.

Our plans to create a written language involve modifying these symbols, then using each symbol to represent one sound in the Mosuo language.  Not quite sure what the final version will look like yet, but we hope to have this part of the project finished by the end of this summer.

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Post time 2006-4-12 15:43:34 |Display all floors

the attitude of perserving a culture

I still hold the idea that the more the outsiders involve into the Mosuo people, the less authentic their culture will be preserved. Unless they are endangered by diseases, shrinking resources, deteriorating environment...then  we should help them.

How can you judge the decisions of the leaders of Mosuo people are right for perserving their culture?
Vision without action is illusion---Y.J.

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Post time 2006-4-12 18:03:18 |Display all floors

Let me reverse the question...How can you "judge" if ANY decision is the right one?  How can you judge that IGNORING them is the best decision?

In the end, all we can do is do our best to make sure they have a CHOICE.  Right now, they are being overrun, and are overwhelmed by the 'outside world'.  If they are just ignored, and we do nothing, then it is CERTAIN that their culture will be destroyed.

Cultures change.  That is inevitable.  But when people are SPECIFICALLY requesting help and assistance, and someone stands by and just says, "Its not my business"...well, what does that say about us?

You can read more about my thoughts on this subject at, but I'll give you an excerpt here:

"Ever since I started this project, one of the most frequent questions/issues I have faced is the question of if the Mosuo should change; and if so, how? Some people have told me that they feel Mosuo culture is "primitive" and "pointless". They feel that the Mosuo should be encouraged to abandon their "outdated" practices, and embrace the modern world. Other people have told me that we should do our best to "shield" and "protect" the Mosuo, to shut them off from outside influences, and to help them preserve their culture intact, unchanged.

Quite frankly, I disagree with both attitudes. Although they may seem diametrically opposed to each other, they are actually remarkably similar. " How are they similar?" you may ask. They are similar in that both attitudes essentially seek to remove the choice from the Mosuo themselves. Both attitudes come from people who really don't care what the Mosuo themselves want; they simply have their own presuppositions about what is "right", and then seek to impose that on the Mosuo."

[ Last edited by canadianguy at 2006-4-12 06:16 PM ]

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Post time 2006-4-13 11:53:18 |Display all floors
Rescuing their culture, help them develope in balance you are talking about. Or humane care. Then I can understand. I read the projects from your website it's far away from the "Many villages still have no electricity; most have no running water.  Average annual income is around RMB 500-1000." problem your first post stated. They have already affected by outer impact.
Vision without action is illusion---Y.J.

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