WORLD WITHOUT FATHER NOR HUSBAND
the Moso people, in the south-west of China.
source: the documentary film “a world without father nor husband” (2000 - 52 minutes), of Eric Blavier and Thomas Lavachery, Belgian realizers of Brussels.
update of the 5/12/2007: to see it video of Namu declaring its love to President Sarkozy.
In the south-west of China, on the buttresses of the Himalayas, an ethnos group of 30.000 inhabitants still little known preserves through the ages of the traditions and the particular rites. Astonishing resistance of the people Moso, this insulated “female kingdom”, where our Western designs stagger.
In this cut enclave of the world, the woman plays a part of foreground.
The mothers are the pillars of the company. Only the female ascent is taken into account and the transmission of the name as of the goods is exclusively female. The concept of father is non-existent. The men and the women do not live couples some but each one in its family of origin. Several times per annum, the man will join for a few days the mother and his appointed partner. The more the man comes by far, the more prestige of the woman is tall. Without that being felt like sexual lightness and while observing the taboo of the inceste strictly, in particular between brother and sister, the connections are tied and untied without any social constraint. Without marriage nor inaccuracy, this company excludes the possession so radically that the jealousy becomes ashamed about it.
The men are exempted of work and are occupied in group with their occupations even with their inactivity. Time with others, they arrange the houses, repair them or others build some. The women in group ensure the essence of work for the daily subsistence. With fallen the night, the men join them: they are presented under the window of the young woman of which they hope for the favors. This one chooses of them one with which it will spend the night. Each evening it can if it wishes it, choose a different partner. The man drawn aside by a young woman hastens to go to join another young woman until finding of them one which accepts it. Quickly the couples were formed and during the night, they must lead their frolicking with discretion without disturbing the household. This practice of the visits is spectacular for us Western but the majority of the young women choose to tie a more durable relation with a man and once this relation officialized in front of the community, the man and the woman can behave one towards the other in a fidelity chosen for one duration which can go until death. However, to died from the one of them, the other will not come from its village to attend the funeral. It will not come to be involved even on this occasion in the life of the family of its partner.
The children are raised by the uncles of the mother who replace the father and they have affection for them like a father. The women are proud of their social position and while laughing, explain that the men in the course of the day must rest to be more valiant in their lasting bed the night. They are due today always to the maintenance of this way of life because they estimate to live with their companion only moments of love and feelings shared without no argument coming to destroy or disturb this relation. The material aspects, the questions of property, the aspects of the education of the children, all the subjects on which all the alive couples unit will quarrel early or late, do not exist for the in love ones with the Moso people. They like unconstrained. There is no arranged or worse marriage, forced. They were chosen and when the man languishes himself of his partner, it will see it. Once watered marks of love, it sets out again and both remotely maintain this crowned fire. As the means of communication have until now summer non-existent, the man did not have the means of warning his partner of his arrival. It arrived and the woman received it at her.
The mother is a head of household. Old, it will prepare one of her daughters to her succession. There is no division of the inheritance to its death. The Community property remains same generations in generations and the family, once her ensured subsistence, does not make effort to increase it with the detriment of other families or to embellish her inheritance with richly decorated works. There would be even a certain scorn or an idleness not to improve circulation of drinking water, to install minimum of a practical and hygienic comfort. On the contrary each one benefits from it to organize rate/rhythm of a peaceful and pleasant life, to have time for him. The village at the edge of the lake Luju, where the film was made, is located in a landscape enchanter. The men fish thin fish because altitude borders the 2700 meters.
During the turning of film, the ways of life had already changed and manners official of the Chinese government taken the step on considerable ancestral habits. A first attempt at setting to the step of the Moso people during the Cultural revolution in the years 1950-1970, showed a failure. Summoned by the Chinese capacity to marry under arrangements of their families or to marry of force by the direction of the Party, of many young people couples the in love ones, rather than to see their love being broken, fled in the mountains to give death. In front of the hecatomb, measurement was repealed.
For these last years, the Chinese school installed in the village has preached the marriage and the education of the children by the father and the mother living under the same roof.
In front of the camera, the children acknowledg this wish more or less freely whereas the women do not want any !
The men found an occupation in the development of tourism following the construction of a road which goes up to the village from the distant city of almost 200 kilometers. They are made boatmen to walk the tourists on the lake. The latter are especially attracted by the reputation of the women of the village as if they went exhiber anything in front of them or worse, prostituer for them. It is all the opposite and the tourists are to be disappointed because the day, there is nothing in particular and the night, all is done so discreetly that they do not notice anything of it also and of course, they do not take part in the visits of the young women. This development of pleasing tourism of the money at the village and people can go to the city to buy consumer goods or equipment of which they had until there never the use. The girls start to dream on the photographs of young couples in the magazines and start to plan to leave the village for the city. Their elder refuses to give up their ways of life which guaranteed to them a peaceful life without violence, hatred or jealousy in a freedom and a sexual freedom without equal. For how long still will be able they to fight to preserve this way of life without argument and these human relations in their community? For the moment the men are occupied walking the tourists and each family takes care that this remuneration is equal between all the families. The men build also new houses to place the tourists.
to see the Web pages on this film : http://www.cfwb.be/av/KIOSK/HTM/FILMS/Funmonde.htm
We will not draw up a comparative table with the ways of life of the natives of the Trobriand islands In fact they are two different ways of life: if the company is well matriarcale in Oceania, it is it probably at the Moso people but much more slightly because there are not many exchanges of tangible properties between communities and the concept of personal property is very weak even non-existent at his place. In the Trobriand islands, there are richnesses and trade with other islands. The men are done warlike, they fish and are developed through the most painful tasks. The rite of the visits to the woman is the same one but in Oceania, the woman leaves her family a moment given to live with her husband and the father of her children in their own residence. What could explain this so disconcerting characteristic of the Moso people ?
Probably its framework of life much harder and poor, especially the winter at this considerable altitude. The area offers few resources and even the wood of quality is rare. The families cannot thus compete of efforts to monopolize these natural richnesses with the detriment of the others. On the contrary, it is necessary to help oneself to preserve these resources. The roughness of the life makes that there does not need two people to exploit nature and the men, let them run the mountain, would return generally the empty hands, complexed per so many failures. It is then to better exempt them work like saving their honor. It is undeniable that these people knew to develop and preserve an art of living certainly rudimentary but indeed pacifist, in which hatred and the jealousy are ashamed.
These extremely honourable values and which we would need well in our civilization materialist, are they deduced from the constraints of life of this area? Are they the result of a wise compromise worked out starting from a good direction one cannot more enlightened? Or are they the will of the founders of these people who to preserve them, chose to withdraw themselves in this area with the variation of the company, as of other communities have to do it in particular in the United States at the 19th century? We do not have the response safe in the words of the young women who today always prefer this life peaceful and released on the sexual level. Do these sexual practices have they be desired right from the start by the founders or are they a compromise, a valve to give more gaîté and the unforeseen ones in a quite monotonous everyday life even heavy? It is undeniable that this organization functions correctly from the economic and social point of view, that there are no quarrels on political choices. It is clear that the children are far from being private of love and affection, that they will not know starting from their adolescence sexual frustration and the arguments in love, nor of the quarrels of property.
The fact that under difficult living conditions and a certain roughness even poverty, nobody steals the others or quarrels, nobody seeks to grow rich on the back by his neighbors or nobody lets himself go to idleness and misery. A real solidarity exists and it did not exclude there. Even at the time of the visits at the fallen night, nobody remains alone in the street. Poverty does not mean forfeiture towards misery, the obscurantism and violence. On the contrary, it does not prohibit to live in peace, to like as good it seems to you and to help itself to satisfy your material, social and spiritual needs individual.
All the subjects of discord are evacuated and if the social and economic organization comprises constraints, those are accepted taking into consideration advantage that they comprise as for the minimization of violence. Nobody imposes his will on the other, the possession is excluded from the values of the culture of these people.
Alcohol, drugs did not exist before the arrival of people of the city. Sexuality is used for to défouloir in a good ambient mood: each night, the men must be able to satisfy the women who chose them to share their bed (and they have all the day to recover!). To give pleasure with the carnal body and the production of emotions is a as important statutory value on their premises as work on our premises, seems it, and the men must excel there. A man who would not be accepted the night by the woman, reached any more worst of the social conditions.
The personal property does not exist, especially not that of a man on a woman and her children. She is only Community and family, she does not cause conflict in a village because the productions are distributed in proportion to the contributions of each one. However the man must make a gift with the woman before it invites it to join it. The man who would not have the means of getting a gift can be helped: the woman who wishes to invite it will give him a gift, a hen, an object and it will be enough with the man to return it to him.
The chief has only one presence symbolic system and a role limited to the presidency of certain social rites at the time of the festivals. These festivals seem good rarer and less sumptuous than those of the natives of the Trobriand islands. The chief cannot impose his decision within the families. The decisions are collegial between women, the mother slices when it is needed. The men do not have anything to say and their capacity of male violence is isolated as regards the social aspects. It is one of the bases of this pacifist organization. On the religious level, the monks lamaïstes ensure the ceremonies according to rites' Tibetans. At the time of the cremation of the body of late, the members of the family must from go away from roughing-hew without being turned over, the monks ensure only the funerary rites. The monks have a secondary role for the Moso people. In many the ancients like contemporaries, to avoid the division of the inheritance between several wire, the parents keep close to them the heir and the others wire are placed in monasteries where they work for the good of the community. The girls are married and have children for the development of the people. At Moso, the wire which do not inherit, do not need to go in a monastery and none is placed out of the family. The mother keeps her children near it her life during and manages their tangible properties. All remain in the community, nobody is not excluded from it for questions from management from the property. The fact for a young woman or a mother to change lovers if it wishes it has any economic and social consequence in the community, he there no threat for the children and not of subjects of quarrel.
The couples organize with discretion not to be ground for dispute or of embarrassment. The love is free and during youth, young people and young women devote themselves to it until satiety according to wills' of each one. A young woman can without complex advance a number of partners higher than the hundred, another to be satisfied with around fifty, essence is not to have made no twists with the one of them, to have respected them and to have satisfied them. Y to arrive represents well a prowess worthy of praises without counting that these satisfied men on the sexual level will tend less to leave the village or to seek quarrel between them for peccadillos. Each one has its chance, with him to seize it and being patient if necessary. To maltreat a woman or to violate it, as in the Trobriand islands, does not have any direction since the possibilities are real to be able one day to make love with it, it is enough to gain its confidence so that she says to you yes at least once! Apparently the women prefer the joys of the love to chastity and do not want to lose them or to deprive themselves some.
Civilizations or at least of the social organizations disappear under our eyes whereas they contain solutions of peace, human relations and social interdependent, of absence of wasting or management of the shortage, vision of the love and pleasure, in particular sexual, for us in our companies of increasing violences and yelling inequalities to the common values in perdition. Instead of accumulating the capital and the richnesses, to conquer the grounds of the neighbors if his are too poor for them, the Moso people show us that one should be deprived of love and initially of carnal love, that neither from the questions of property, neither from the political or religious questions, nor the education of children, should not come to lock up a couple in a social status which inevitably will oblige it to know the arguments, the lack of respect, carried out the manipulators or aggressive towards the other, even the divorce or hatred, and at best long and inexpressible déshabitude of the intimacy of the other. A community in which the individuals do not have an object of quarrels is all the more strong to preserve the richness of the division of its purest feelings, of its freest moments of love even if those do not last a whole common human existence under the same roof. The will of these women not to live with the elected man of their heart can appear shocking for our mentalities and our educations but can we show them of a disproportionate selfishness at the point to prefer the play of the desire, the pleasure each time renewed of waiting and preparation of the meeting, with small and great miseries of the common life ready to extinguish the flame of attraction towards the other, to lose the dash in love that to develop it? Where is the wisdom and the art of living the human love?. A thing is certain, the manners of living of the Moso people are changing and the will of the Chinese government to arrive to its ends by less brutal ways, is not any doubt even if it does not use does not seem it here the criminal methods which it deploys in close Tibet and which since ten years, this area of Yunnan and of the country of the clouds access is not prohibited any more. This documentary film thus takes all its value in this restitution of a social organization in which the practice of the love overrides the wars, misery, the rapes and the rejection of the other. The woman-future of the man still lives for a few times, wish it, more the banks of the lake Lugu that our cities and our campaigns of the countries known as civilized… and the Romeo of the Moso people do not have to follow a long time the race of the moon before being languished in the arms of their one night old beloved. That has what to fascinate us as these Chinese tourists who go up in these villages but isn't enough for us to change our glances between us men and women?
Finally, by looking at these photographs of the lake Mothers, French translation of the word Lugu, we must remember another lake with close also of 3.000 meters altitude in the Andes and cradle of the people telamon when the visitors come from Venus unloaded there to transmit their form of life to an alive species on our planet. Did the Moso people withdraw themselves at the edge of this lake by simple convenience to flee the others and to thus live in peace and love? Did the founders of these people want to reproduce the original step installed with Tiahuanaco of the thousands of years before knowing that if they “returned”, their place would be ideal to find them? Before this culture does not disappear under the pressure from the Chinese and Western cultures, is it still possible to find traces of these legends founders which would connect to us at these origins of before the last great cataclysm which inevitably left significant traces through the chain of the Himalayas, especially if it escaped the flood ?
links for reading other pages devoted to this film:
links with pages on the Moso people:
For the following photos: the boats for tourists on Lake Lugu, a public bath with hot water spring, a woman prays in the morning by Lake Mother.
page put in line 21/11/2003 and updated 10/01/2005. We thank the team for film to have transmitted to us these two photographs in order to illustrate this page.
update of the 15/10/2005:
to take note of the article on the book of a Moso girl, Yang Erche Namu, become a star in China and which hesitates between its maternal culture and the modern culture :
to order this book:
Presentation of the editor
Good-bye with the lake Mère is the account of an extraordinary childhood in a company out of the commun run. This childhood is that of Yang Erche Namu, celebrates Chinese singer and mannequin, which lives today between Beijing, Rome and San Francisco. Namu was born in 1966 at Moso, a company matrilinéaire of the mountains of Yunnan, at the border sino-Tibetan, 2700 meters of altitude. The Chinese call the country moso “the country of the girls”, because at Moso, the women are heads of household. Moso rejected the marriage. The sexual unions are temporary and the children belong of office to the maternal family. The company moso encourages the tolerance, the respect of others and the collective assistance. Good-bye with the lake Mère reports the first sixteen years of the life of Namu, its painful relationship to his/her mother, her desires of voyage and escape, its ambition to see the world and the result of its dreams when it makes a success of a contest of song and integrates the academy of music of Shanghai.
The account of the training of Namu is at the same time full with drama, strangeness and beauty. Through the eyes of a child then of an impetuous teenager, one penetrates in the alcoves where with the corner of fire the weather-beaten faces shine, one tastes with the tea with the butter of yak and one enivre of the air of the mountains. It is discovered how are declined there the love between mother and girl, the conflict between the individual and the company. One tests the upheavals without precedent which are the intrusion of the Chinese revolution in this thousand-year-old company as well as the awakening with the freedom of a girl to the exceptional destiny. This book rests on the meeting of Namu with an anthropologist Frenchwoman, Christine Mathieu, who is one of the first Western ones to have been able to study manners of Moso.
update of the 5/12/2007: to see it video of Namu declaring its love to President Sarkozy :
Our short comment: Namu, we love you and your Moso sisters for a long time. It is true that France needs a revolution and the place which you wish to take you will suit to wonder, especially if you accept at your table some poets as us and I see that you like them already much. In the absence of a positive answer of Nicolas, has patience a little. We will change the life into France and certainly also in China and elsewhere, that will be able to point out to you a little your village of childhood and its values of peace and love. You will be festival on our Elysées Fields. Our kisses accompany you over the summits of the Himalayas.
of the "People Building a Long House"