Lugu Lake and Mosuo People
The Lugu Lake is located between Ninglang
County in Yunnan Province and Yanyuan County in Sichuan
Province, 303 kilometers away from Lijiang County. It is
a plateau lake with a total area of 52 square kilometers,
2,685 meters above sea level. The average depth is 45 meters,
the deepest point being 93 meters. The water is very clear.
The lake remains an uncontaminated plateau lake.
Among the five islands in the lake, three
are in the territory of Yunnan and two in that of Sichuan.
Heiwawudao, Liwubidao, Ligedao are metaphorically called
"Three Islands of Penglai" (Islands of the Immortals ).
Sitting in the middle of the lake, Heiwawudao Island is
also called " the Chieftain Island" because Ashaoyun, the
chieftain of Yongning, built his villa on the island in
the Guangxu Period of the Qing dynasty. Rock, an American
scientist, also used to reside on this island. On the south
side of the lake stands Liwubidao Island on which there
is a temple and the chieftain Ashaoyun's tomb. Ligedao Island
lies at the foot of the lion Mountain. It is actually a
small peninsular formed by the extension of the Lion Mountain
into the Lake. A dozen of Mosuo families live on this island
so it is possible for the visitors to experience the life
on the island and, at the same time, enjoy the beautiful
scenery of the lake.
The pretty and graceful Mosuo girls, the
ancient and natural canoes and the moving and pleasant fishing
songs and are consider to be the " three most enjoyable
things on the lake."
The Ligu Lake is embraced by green mountains.
The best-loved one by the Mosuo people is the Holy Gemu
Mountain. The local people worship it as their Goddess Gemu.
On 25th July of each lunar year, they will gather at the
foot of the mountain for a great sacrificial rite.
Many cultural sites and scenic spots are
scattered along the lakeside. They are Mosuo villages, plateau
hot springs, the underground maze-The Lucky Cave, the Chieftain's
Palace, the Zhamei Lamaist Temple, Riyuehe- The Ruins of
the Yuan Army Quarters when Kublai Khan was on his south-expansion,
Yongning-the key town on the ancient tea and horse trading
route. Many beautiful legends have been circulating among
the people. The Mosuos, a branch of the Naxi nationality
with a population of about 15,000, are the main ethnic group
scattered in the lakeside villages.
The Mosuo women wear long hair tied into
a bun and red, green and black garments and white folding
skirts with colorful sashes tied round their waists. Before
13 years old, they usually wear long gowns. After the initiation
ceremony at the age 13, men wear trousers and women wear
The Mosuo people have their own ways and
customs, still retain some remnants of the matriarchal society.
Men and women are not bound by marriage, each living at
one's mother's home. Men work at home during the day and
spend their night with the women they love in their homes.
Children are under the care of and supported by their maternal
families. Fathers do not live in the same family with their
children and women so that they are not bound up with their
women financially in their production and life. This unique
wedlock values affection and gives more freedom to men and
women in their relationships. They may choose to unite or
separate at will. It has been considered as the living fossil
as a basis for a study of social patterns and matriarchal
marriage customs in today's world.
The Mosuo wooden houses are built with
square-edged timber in the style of " Jinganshi building
", also called Mulengfang. The Naxi Villages look graceful
and unaffected. The Zhuanshan Festival ( the Festival of
Turning-around the Mountain) which falls on 25th July of
the lunar year is the traditional festival of the Mosuo
people. On that day they would dress in their Sunday vest
to worship the Gemu Goddess Mountain and pray for the Goddess'
protection. It is also a time for horse racing, wrestling
and antiphonal singing. The young people take the chance
to search for their lovers, whom they call Axia.