The Mosuo minority of Lugu Lake
Unique Marriage custom:
The Mosuo people, who are living around the Lugu Lake in Lijiang, have their own unique marriage custom – living in the matriarchal way. After men and women built up their matrimonial relationships, they both live in their mothers’ home separately, forever. This state of matrimony is called locally “zou hun” (?? in Chinese, which means “avoid marriage”) or “Axia Marriage” (?? in Mosuo language means partners, close friends). Mosuo boys stay in the girls’ home during all the night then back to his family at the break of the day to start the daily work. Children of them are breed up by the mother side’s family. Traditionally, men in the Mosuo minority have no responsibilities to bring up their children. This kind of matrimonial relationship is totally base on their own free wills, they can stay together or end up the relationship whenever they want; some continues for few months, few years, few decades or even lifelong. Their “marriages” are not bound by laws, it’s fully depending on their feelings and protected by their personal conservative morals. As long as one of them not willing to be the Axia, without any formalities their marriage will be dissolved. They are free to meet any other new partners and families will neither interfere nor raising the objection.
The Mosuo start to meet their Axia when they are in teen ages. They seek out their Axia through the daily works, activities in festivals, temple and market fairs etc. If one side falls in love to the other, he/she will snatch some object from him/her to sound out his/her willingness to take up the relationship. If the opposite side tacitly approves for the action, that means he/ she agrees for the acquaintance, then they both start to build up the relationship; otherwise if he/ she responses with the serious attitude and asks to give back the object, that represents his/her disagreement.
Singing gives a significant effect when ones want to make friends or even marriage with their admire Axias, especially for those teenagers. They like to sing the Mosuo traditional love songs to look for and sound the Axias who has the strong admiration. Therefore, Mosuo has plentiful Axia love songs sources.
To test with the stone-throwing is another way to meet Axias. When dusk comes, Musuo boys will throw a stone to the roof of the Axia’s house then wait for the response patiently. Girls when they hear the noise of the throwing stone, they will check out from the window. If she is in love with the boy, she’ll open the door and let the boy enters. If not, she’ll stay inside without giving any response, and then the boy will realize and give up the further action.
To disencumber the Axia Marriage is quiet simple. As long as the girls keep the door closed or the boys stop visiting their houses and leave a message to the others, right after that the Axia Marriage is regarded to be finished. But few of the Mosuo people did have a serious marriage and extended to have a regular family system.