The Mosuo People

On the border of the Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in China by Lugu Lake there’s a society that’s quite different from the traditional Chinese ethnic minorities. The village has been called the “Land of Women” and “Country of Daughters” and has a population of about 40,000. The Mosuo people have be advertised as a matriarchal society or the land of promiscuous and exotic women within Tourism. However, the truth about the Mosuo people is far from what the words of tourism have spread. With so little information about who the Mosuo People and so many speculations and hearsay it’s hard to tell what is fact and fiction about this community of people. This research paper will hopefully give people more insight in what tourism sells about the Mosuo People and who these people are. For one the Mosuo People are quite different from other ethnic minorities within China especially in their way of living. Interestingly enough, despite being so different from other ethnic minorities in China; the people are not within the 56 officially recognized ethnic groups within the Chinese government.

Mosuo Women singing

The Mosuo People are not acknowledge as an ethnic minority group in China. This is because they are considered either Naxi or Mongol even though their culture is quite different from each other. However, the Mosuo People have been acknowledged as different from the Naxi and Mongols and therefore are identified as a sub group but not an official minority. This has caused many issues and opinions on the matter which is why it’s difficult to tell what it tourist advertisement and what is fact.

Over the years the Mosuo People have accumulated different images for themselves and not by choice. This is mainly to do with the boom of the tourist industry within the villages and the inaccuracy of public information on the Mosuo People. Labeled as a “last matriarchy” or a place with promiscuous women and “free love” the Mosuo People have effected from the outside opinion and in turn changed a few important aspects of their culture to appeal to the tourist. For one thing they aren’t a matriarchy exactly, but matrilineal. This inaccuracy has led to tourists think that the Mosuo villages all have women head that control everything, but the truth is that Mosuo people are more equalitarian than matriarchal. The tourist industry has also been growing over the years and therefore the effects have also increased and impacted the Mosuo People in multiple ways.

Lugu Lake

The purpose of the paper is to give fellow peers information on the Mosuo People: who they are, what they are known for, and other things. More importantly explain the tourist ideals, how they came to be so different from actual facts of the Mouso, and how this has effect their culture. Many think that Mosuo People have promiscuous women and this has impact them in more ways than one. For one how the tourists interact with the Mosuo is through the eyes of exotic adventure instead of accurate information and since the appeal of visiting these villages is the skewed tourist ideal the Mosuo people have changed to fit them.

One of the biggest impacts the Mosuo people have gone through is there loss of their identity. Since they are not an official ethnic minority they do not have the benefits that come with being a minority. However they are not Naxi nor are they Mongol, but information about them according to the government is that they are part of Naxt/ Mongols. Over the years the Mosuo People have fought to be known as a separate ethnic minority but denied. However there are Mosuo People who have accepted being part of the ethnic minority assigned to them by the Hans and find it to be fact which has cause more misconceptions.

I hope through this project that everyone will be a little more acknowledgeable about the Mosuo People and who they really are instead of what they have been portrayed to be. Also notice just how tourist expectations and the actually reality is so different and why it has information on the Mosuo has become this way. My paper will show the tourist perspective and the Mosuo perspective and how the two clash but also have worked together to begin to create something new. More importantly it’ll discuss the impact tourism has had and all the information about the Mosuo People I’ve found to be accurate and what I’ve found to be false.


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