Left: The fire and its power are important, right: The outside of a Mosuo home. Walking marriage The Mosuo are an ethnic minority, located in the provinces of Yunnan, Tibet and Sichuan in the southeast of China. The Empire of Women, Not a Fairy Tale, English cover

For this project, the Qiau Zi family from the Chinese village of Lijuazie sold a Mosuo community house to the artist as an exhibition piece. Their intention was to promote and spread the principles of matriarchal social structures, especially those lived by the threatened Mosuo minority. The Mosuo are an ethnic group in the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of Southeast China. Their houses serve community life and reflect the social structures of their society. Women in Mosuo households hold the role usually assumed by the man in a traditionally patriarchal family: the family name, property, economic means and education of the children are responsibilities shared by all members of the household, male and female. Members of the family clan elect a matriarch as their temporary leader.
A traditional Mosuo house consists of various buildings around a courtyard. A Zumu is the common space shared by all. Its two sacred fireplaces and two pillars holding the roof stand for the equal value given men and women in this society. In 1976, anthropologist Lévi-Strauss introduced the concept of “house societies” to describe communities where the domestic unit is more important for social organization than ancestry.

Copyright
In cooperation with Currents – Art & Music, Beijing

This project has been shown at
Mosuo Fireplace Goddess, Currents – Art & Music, Beijing, 2007

 

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