Lugu Lake in the foothills of the Himalayas is home to China’s 40,000-people-strong Mosuo tribe, one of the world’s last matriarchies. Living more or less isolated for centuries, the Mosuo tribe have developed their own unique family structure in which there is no traditional father role and inheritance is matrilineal, passed from mother to the oldest daughter.
Above: 23-year-old Lamu outside her bedroom, called “the Flower Room.”
In Mosuo culture, only the women of childbearing age have their own rooms, whilst men are at the mercy of either staying with their girlfriends or sleeping on the hay with the animals.
Instead of traditional marriages, the Mosuo have “walking marriages” , where each partner continues living with his or her respective family.
The man visits his walking marriage wife at night and then returns to his own family in the morning to take care of his sisters’ children.
Lamu’s grandmother in the picture above, is in the common space of a traditional Mosuo home that can function as a living room, kitchen and temple, and is always stocked with tea, rice wine, apples, sunflower seeds and walnuts.
Grandmothers are the most important figure in the household.
Most Mosuo are monogamous but the walking marriage model means partnerships can be ended and both men and women are able to have several partners throughout their lives.