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In pictures: The Kingdom of Women
High in the Chinese mountains lies a matriarchal society known for free love and fire dances.
Last updated: 25 Jun 2014 12:26
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Yunnan, China - The Musuo live on the banks of the pristine Lake Lugu, high in the mountains on the border of Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in southwestern China. 

In this traditional matriarchal culture, children live in their mother's home for their whole life. Grandmothers are heads of Musuo households. Family name and inheritance is passed through the female line and most manual labour is carried out by women. Men are, however, responsible for hunting and fishing.  
 
"Walking marriage" is a unique aspect of Musuo culture. In this practice, women can have as many or as few lovers as they choose. If a man is chosen as a partner, usually at a "fire dance" - where villagers gather to socialise - he will visit the woman at her family home at night and must return to his mother's home before sunrise. If a child is conceived, it will be raised by the mother and her family.
 
Due to their customs, the home of the Musuo, who number only around 40,000, has come to be known as the Kingdom of Women. Their reputation for "free love", along with the breathtaking landscape of their homeland draws increasing numbers of tourists, who travel by bus from Lijiang, in Yunnan Province, seven hours away.
 
Tourism has already made a huge impact on Musuo life, but they welcome the new wealth the tourists have brought to their villages. Until recently, Musuo survived on subsistence agriculture and hunting. Today, the villagers own iPads and sports utility vehicles. Much of their income is derived from entrance fees paid by tourist groups to attend fire dances.
 
It remains to be seen how much of the Musuo way of life can be preserved in the face of increasing curiosity and influence from the outside world, but practicing their traditions for visitors is one way they are fighting to keep their culture alive.


/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
The scenery is spectacular on the road from Lijiang to Lake Lugu in China's Yunnan province. Domestic tourism is booming here, on the borders of Tibet, Vietnam, Burma and Laos.


/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Aya Si Geng Ma, 69, and her nine-year-old grandson Aya Seny Long Duo Je at home in Luoshui Village, a Musuo community on the edge of Lugu Lake. The Musuo ethnic minority is a matriarchal society who practice Tibetan Buddhism.


/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Du Zhi Ma, 68, poses in front of colourful Musuo textiles at her home in Luoshui Village. The region is home to the matriarchial Musuo ethnic minority who practice "walking marriage".


/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Local men of the Musuo ethnic minority meet at a street market in Lake Lugu Township. The Mosuo people live in a matriarchal (or matri-lineal) society where name and inheritance is passed down through the female line.



/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Ci Li, a 34-year-old Naxi shaman, reads from a mystic text to determine the future of an Australian journalist. The Naxi ethnic minority are believed to have one of the world's last remaining pictographic languages.


/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
A Naxi woman holds a bundle of Tibetan Buddhist prayers, written in Naxi characters.


/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Aya Si Geng Ma is the 69-year-old head of a Mosuo household of eleven in Luoshui Village on the edge of Lugu Lake. Despite the matriarchal society here, she still feeds the pigs in the family's courtyard herself.


/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Aya Jia, 38, chops wood at her home in Luoshui Village. Musuo women are responsible for much of their household's manual labour.


/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Musuo villagers perform a fire dance for tourists. An increasing number of domestic tourists are drawn to the previously impoverished area around Lugu Lake by the stunning landscape and an exotic ethnic culture. Each night, through the tourist season, a crowd of around 400 are charged 30 yuan (around $5) each to attend these spectacles. Profits are then distributed throughout the surrounding villages.



/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Tourists pose with a Musou woman in traditional dress at a fire dance on the edge of Lugu Lake. The region is experiencing something of a tourism boom.


/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
The Musuo's traditional fire dance is helping spark a boom in the region's tourism.


/Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Hundreds of tourists - both domestic and international - pack out the Lugo Lake's performance space each night.



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images:
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captions:
The scenery is spectacular on the road from Lijiang to Lake Lugu in China\(***)s Yunnan province. Domestic tourism is booming here, on the borders of Tibet, Vietnam, Burma and Laos.;*;Aya Si Geng Ma, 69, and her nine-year-old grandson Aya Seny Long Duo Je at home in Luoshui Village, a Musuo community on the edge of Lugu Lake. The Musuo ethnic minority is a matriarchal society who practice Tibetan Buddhism. ;*;Du Zhi Ma, 68, poses in front of colourful Musuo textiles at her home in Luoshui Village. The region is home to the matriarchial Musuo ethnic minority who practice "walking marriage".;*;

Local men of the Musuo ethnic minority meet at a street market in Lake Lugu Township. The Mosuo people live in a matriarchal (or matri-lineal) society where name and inheritance is passed down through the female line.

;*;Ci Li, a 34-year-old Naxi shaman, reads from a mystic text to determine the future of an Australian journalist. The Naxi ethnic minority are believed to have one of the world\(***)s last remaining pictographic languages. ;*;A Naxi woman holds a bundle of Tibetan Buddhist prayers, written in Naxi characters. ;*;Aya Si Geng Ma is the 69-year-old head of a Mosuo household of eleven in Luoshui Village on the edge of Lugu Lake. Despite the matriarchal society here, she still feeds the pigs in the family\(***)s courtyard herself.;*;Aya Jia, 38, chops wood at her home in Luoshui Village. Musuo women are responsible for much of their household\(***)s manual labour. ;*;

Musuo villagers perform a fire dance for tourists. An increasing number of domestic tourists are drawn to the previously impoverished area around Lugu Lake by the stunning landscape and an exotic ethnic culture. Each night, through the tourist season, a crowd of around 400 are charged 30 yuan (around $5) each to attend these spectacles. Profits are then distributed throughout the surrounding villages.

;*;Tourists pose with a Musou woman in traditional dress at a fire dance on the edge of Lugu Lake. The region is experiencing something of a tourism boom.;*;The Musuo\(***)s traditional fire dance is helping spark a boom in the region\(***)s tourism.;*;Hundreds of tourists - both domestic and international - pack out the Lugo Lake\(***)s performance space each night. Daylife ID:
3bfcb89d9ad8537bbd35bca6a947a911
Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera;*;Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
The Kingdom of Womenhttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Womenen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Wed, 30 Apr 2014 15:22:30 GMT http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/d5f5a52116add47163029c2bcf950546

The scenery is spectacular on the road from Lijiang to Lake Lugu in China's Yunnan province. Domestic tourism is booming here, on the borders of Tibet, Vietnam, Burma and Laos.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/d5f5a52116add47163029c2bcf950546Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

The scenery is spectacular on the road from Lijiang to Lake Lugu in China's Yunnan province. Domestic tourism is booming here, on the borders of Tibet, Vietnam, Burma and Laos.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/f5196f9fc7d93f8bbd60151e38349615

Aya Si Geng Ma, 69, and her nine-year-old grandson Aya Seny Long Duo Je at home in Luoshui Village, a Musuo community on the edge of Lugu Lake. The Musuo ethnic minority is a matriarchal society who practice Tibetan Buddhism.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/f5196f9fc7d93f8bbd60151e38349615Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Aya Si Geng Ma, 69, and her nine-year-old grandson Aya Seny Long Duo Je at home in Luoshui Village, a Musuo community on the edge of Lugu Lake. The Musuo ethnic minority is a matriarchal society who practice Tibetan Buddhism.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/b2f8da2f9bf000725180957044e3b5f1

Du Zhi Ma, 68, poses in front of colourful Musuo textiles at her home in Luoshui Village. The region is home to the matriarchial Musuo ethnic minority who practice "walking marriage".

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/b2f8da2f9bf000725180957044e3b5f1Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Du Zhi Ma, 68, poses in front of colourful Musuo textiles at her home in Luoshui Village. The region is home to the matriarchial Musuo ethnic minority who practice "walking marriage".

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/aa7df23961f95cc20b29612d8a5fa592

Local men of the Mosuo ethnic minority meet at a street market in Lake Lugu Township. The Mosuo people live in a matriarchal (or matri-lineal) society where name and inheritance is passed down through the female line.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/aa7df23961f95cc20b29612d8a5fa592Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Local men of the Mosuo ethnic minority meet at a street market in Lake Lugu Township. The Mosuo people live in a matriarchal (or matri-lineal) society where name and inheritance is passed down through the female line.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/b204322f8051a1562828cb6b690e6068

Ci Li, a 34-year-old Naxi shaman, reads from a mystic text to determine the future of an Australian journalist. The Naxi ethnic minority are believed to have one of the world's last remaining pictographic languages.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/b204322f8051a1562828cb6b690e6068Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Ci Li, a 34-year-old Naxi shaman, reads from a mystic text to determine the future of an Australian journalist. The Naxi ethnic minority are believed to have one of the world's last remaining pictographic languages.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/ca836f9c628a45c35db4a3fe5bdfd09e

A Naxi woman holds a bundle of Tibetan Buddhist prayers, written in Naxi characters.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/ca836f9c628a45c35db4a3fe5bdfd09eDave Tacon/Al Jazeera

A Naxi woman holds a bundle of Tibetan Buddhist prayers, written in Naxi characters.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/c1418d70c966ccbd2f5b79c4d3f9da39

Aya Si Geng Ma is the 69-year-old head of a Mosuo household of eleven in Luoshui Village on the edge of Lugu Lake. Despite the matriarchal society here, she still feeds the pigs in the family's courtyard herself.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/c1418d70c966ccbd2f5b79c4d3f9da39Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Aya Si Geng Ma is the 69-year-old head of a Mosuo household of eleven in Luoshui Village on the edge of Lugu Lake. Despite the matriarchal society here, she still feeds the pigs in the family's courtyard herself.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/d7773e4400b93ab273d5d6aa4daddd74

Aya Jia, 38, chops wood at her home in Luoshui Village. Musuo women are responsible for much of their household's manual labour.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/d7773e4400b93ab273d5d6aa4daddd74Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Aya Jia, 38, chops wood at her home in Luoshui Village. Musuo women are responsible for much of their household's manual labour.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/4132b877cf03a3cd4a4446cfffdf366d

Musuo villagers perform a fire dance for tourists. An increasing number of domestic tourists are drawn to the previously impoverished area around Lugu Lake by the stunning landscape and an exotic ethnic culture. Each night, through the tourist season, a crowd of around 400 are charged 30 yuan (around 50 US cents) each to attend these spectacles. Profits are then distributed throughout the surrounding villages.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/4132b877cf03a3cd4a4446cfffdf366dDave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Musuo villagers perform a fire dance for tourists. An increasing number of domestic tourists are drawn to the previously impoverished area around Lugu Lake by the stunning landscape and an exotic ethnic culture. Each night, through the tourist season, a crowd of around 400 are charged 30 yuan (around 50 US cents) each to attend these spectacles. Profits are then distributed throughout the surrounding villages.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/8aa9a20c29eaa1e0cd9994bc5430e062

Tourists pose with a Musou woman in traditional dress at a fire dance on the edge of Lugu Lake. The region is experiencing something of a tourism boom.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/8aa9a20c29eaa1e0cd9994bc5430e062Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Tourists pose with a Musou woman in traditional dress at a fire dance on the edge of Lugu Lake. The region is experiencing something of a tourism boom.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/0a5e92f96a838c188820aa5eff0f7c74

The Musuo's traditional fire dance is helping spark a boom in the region's tourism.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/0a5e92f96a838c188820aa5eff0f7c74Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

The Musuo's traditional fire dance is helping spark a boom in the region's tourism.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/a81877baca635e2e9d00d48b3a417073

Hundreds of tourists - both domestic and international - pack out the Lugo Lake's performance space each night.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/a81877baca635e2e9d00d48b3a417073Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera

Hundreds of tourists - both domestic and international - pack out the Lugo Lake's performance space each night.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/48018f6fbfa4feeabfd2b61506a6e69cJuly 12, 2012, Yunnan Province, China - Zhu Ma Lu Chuo, 18, (right) sends a text message in traditional dress as others get ready to perform a fire dance for tourists. The isolated region is experiencing ever increasing numbers of tourists drawn by the stunning landscape and exotic ethnic culuture. (Dave Tacon / Polaris)http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/The_Kingdom_of_Women/slideshow/no-caption/48018f6fbfa4feeabfd2b61506a6e69cDave Tacon/Al Jazeera July 12, 2012, Yunnan Province, China - Zhu Ma Lu Chuo, 18, (right) sends a text message in traditional dress as others get ready to perform a fire dance for tourists. The isolated region is experiencing ever increasing numbers of tourists drawn by the stunning landscape and exotic ethnic culuture. (Dave Tacon / Polaris)


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