While feminism has been bandied about in western society for 50 years, the women of a mountain-dwelling minority in China would make hardened feminists blush…or drool.
The Mosuo (moe-sua) people live in go cabins in the middle of which there is a kitchen range where first keeps burning forever. They put food beside the kitchens for worshipping their ancestors.
When boys and girls are 13 years old, a ceremony shall be held to celebrate their growing-up. In the ceremony, standing on pork under a column (the upper end being the column of women and the lower end that of men), boys put on leather boots and wear red guimp lace on the waist; girls put on top-knots from ancestors and white pleated skirts. Afterwards, both sides can begin social contacts. Young men are allowed to pursue girls publicly. He can co-habitat with a girl on condition that the girl approves. In the morning, lots of men come and go. They all come out of their lovers' houses. The relation is not steady when they are young. Sons and daughters all live with their mothers; and their fathers have no duty to take care of them. When men become old, their nephews support them.
Marriage free - Azhu Lovers
Mosuo people are marriage-free. When the Mosuo girls reach 15 years of age and the boys reach 17, they are allowed to start their love affairs. The lovers (called Female Azhu and Male Azhu) find each other freely. Mosuo people are good in singing and dancing. The young people dance together and singing in Musou language to express their love.
The Musou girl has a special Azhu house to meet her lover. Her lover visits her during night and leaves at morning. If the girl wishes to stop the love affair, she closes the door of her Azhu House to the man. Then the man will not come again. The love affair is finished. The lovers have no economic or any legal relationship. It is based on mutual love and affection only. The willingness of the females is very respected.
The children will grow up with their mother and uncles. They inherit their surnames from their mothers. They even don't know who is their father. Woman is the head of the family. Women are in charge of most activities in the society.
These single mothers are happy. The uncles play the male part in the family and look after the boys. Such blood connection may be more stable than the love-based marriage & duty. A unique and perhaps wise arrangement?
When the Mosuo children grow to 13 years old, they will go through a special Adult Ceremony to become the adults. The Adult Ceremony always be held on the New Year's Day. The mother helps the girls to wear beautiful new dresses and jewels. The uncle helps the boys to wear new clothes and waist knifes.
On the Adult Ceremony, the girls stand in the Female Rank, the boys stand in the Male Rank. They keep one foot on the pork meat and one foot on the rice bag…the symbol of a rich life. After the Adult Ceremony, they are allowed to attend all adult activities. After age 15 they can beet their lovers.