Lugu Lake

In the sublime Xiaoliangshan Mountains of Yongning District of the Ninglang Yi Autonomous County is inlaid a shimmering pearl - Lugu Lake. It is the native place of "The Females' Kingdom" composed of the Mosuo people, a branch of the Naxi nationality. "Lugu" means "falling into the water" in the Mosuo language ("hu" means lake in Chinese.) Hence the name of the lake.

Lugu Lake is located between Yunnan's Ninglang County and Sichuan's Yanyuan County, with a total area of 77,700-odd mu, the space within the precincts of Yunnan being 41,400 mu. It is 2,685 m. above sea level, counting from the surface of the water, and is therefore the lake with the highest altitude in the province. Its average depth of water is 40 m., the greatest depth being 90 m. Among Yunnan's lakes it stands only second to Fuxianhu Lake in terms of depth of water. The water of the lake is generally clean and green, with different shades of colour: now turquoise blue, now sapphire blue, now white-gray, simply beyond one's imagination. On the lake are the "pig-trough boats" ("zhucaochuan") specific to the place. Teeming in the lake are fine-scaled fish, carps and other species. The lake waters flow eastwards to the Yalong River and finally into the surging Jingshajiang River.

Lugu Lake is surrounded by high and sublime mountains and is snowbound for over 3 months. Since the lake is rather deep, a definite regulating influence is exerted on the temperature of the lake shores. Therefore the surrounding mountains abound in forest resources which afford an exquisite beauty, much fresh air and charming scenery. At present it is one of the places in China which is least damaged by human efforts and best preserved in its natural features.

The shores of the Lugu lake is inhabited by the Mosuo people who have peculiar customs and ways, up to now still retaining remnants of matriarchal society. Men and women are not united by wedlock, each living at the mother's home respectively, yet keeping a casual cohabitation relationship. Thus the place is called "A Quaint Realm of Matriarchy".

The male and female youth of the Mosuo people, having fostered mutual love in the long period of productive labour and social activities, begin to reciprocate "tokens". The male party, in accordance with his economic conditions, presents the female party with gold or silver ornaments, jade bracelets, beads and silk threads, etc. The "tokens" returned by the female party are generally some personal accessories which the other party likes. Given such an affection on both sides, the seniors of the male party would bring some "loquat meat", and some tea, sugar or wine to pay a visit to those of the female party. Once agreement is obtained from them, an axia (spouse) relationship is established for the two. However, such relationship can also be fixed without going through the above procedure. After this the two parties continue to live in their own homes. The male "axia" labours for his home in the daytime, and goes to the female "axia" at night for cohabiting with her in her home. The family of the female "axia" looks upon the male as one of its own members. During the rush farming season, the male "axia" goes to the home of the other party to help with work. Those who have fixed their "axia" relationship call each other "azhu", which means "dear companion", but never husband or wife. Therefore, it is not appropriate to speak of "father", who instead is only referred to as "maternal uncle". The female is predominant and is therefore the leader of a family. With the Mosuos goddess worship and the remnants of the matriarchal period, the Luguhu Lake area is indeed one of the rare specimens of "The Female's Kingdom" in the world and a 'living fossil of the matriarchal society hard to come by".

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