My personal projects bring me to unexpected places without and within. They allow me to discover new perspectives on life, on womanhood, on identity and spirituality.
We don’t need husbands!
This Project brought me to Lugu Lake, high in the Tibetan Himalayas where the leading role in the society is not taken by men, like almost all over the world, but by the women and especially by the mothers of the community. These leadership roles are not only seen within the family structure and decision making, the women of the Mosuo community in fact take on many of the more labour intensive responsibilities. During my time here I have gained an unparalleled respect for these women and the way in which this ‘unorthodox’ minority, consisting of a population of 50,000, have lived for thousands of years.
The Mosuo Women work harder than man, they take all responsibilities on board and share them with their family. Mosuo culture tend to trace their lineage through the female side of the family, therefore every child remains in the mothers family. The role of the biological father who normally does not live with the child’s mother is not regarded as important as it is in our society. Raising children without the biological father is no reason to feel sorry for, in fact it is normal.
However when a newborn child turns 30 days old the Mosuo people celebrate not just the birth of a new family member but also the relationship between it’s parents and a link between their families. In the first 30 days of a child’s life its biological Father would stay day and night with the child and his ‘wife’. From then on their relationship will return to be a walking marriage, which means the man will visit his wife at night and return back to his own family during the day, for which he feels responsible for.
This means it will mainly be the uncle who would be the father to his nieces and nephews and which he would consider as his own family members or children. Despite the fact, that the Chinese government have in the past tried to force these people to adapt a patriarchal way of life, which meant they were forced to get married and leave their mothers, the Mosuo have always kept and defended their traditions – but now everything seems to change. These days the Chinese Government have recognised this unique culture and now try to make a business from it. They have started buying the land from the Mosuo people and have already begun to build a touristic infrastructure including streets, hotels, billboards and even an airport is planed to attract Tourism from all over the world to witness the unique way of life of this matriarchal Minority. This means though, that it is just a matter of time before their traditions and way of life will fade due to the influence of money, globalisation and the touristic impact.This is happening already as these photographs show. It is sad but already visible that some of the Mosuo People have adapted a western way of life, and now exhibit their traditions more for the tourists and visitors rather than for themselves.
Like hundreds of traditional societies around the world, they too seem to lose their heritage from this capitalisation, not yet conscious that this will irreversibly cut off the bond to their past and their cultural identity. Ironically in this case the Chinese government want them to keep their traditions which can only fail when selling them a dream of a modern lifestyle.