In a mist-shrouded valley on China's invisible border with Tibet is a place known as the "Kingdom of Women," where a small tribe called the Mosuo lives in a cluster of villages that have changed little in centuries. This is one of the last matrilineal societies on earth, where power lies in the hands of women. All decisions and rights related to money, property, land, and the children born to them rest with the Mosuo women, who live completely independently of husbands, fathers, and brothers, with the grandmother as the head of each family. A unique practice is also enshrined in Mosuo tradition-that of "walking marriage," where women choose their own lovers from men within the tribe but are beholden to none.
Choo Waihong, a corporate lawyer who yearned for escape and ended up living with the Mosuo for seven years – the only non-Mosuo to have ever done so. In The Kingdom of Women, she tells the remarkable story of her time in the remote mountains of China and gives a vibrant, compelling glimpse into a way of life that teeters on the knife-edge of extinction.
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About the Author
Originally from Singapore, Choo Waihong was a corporate lawyer with top law firms in Singapore and California before she took early retirement in 2006 and began writing travel pieces for publications such as China Daily. She lived for six years with the Mosuo tribe and now spends half the year with them in Yunnan, China. The other half of the year, Waihong lives in Singapore.
Table of Contents
List of Plates ix
Map: Kingdom of Women xx
1 Arriving in the Kingdom of Women 1
2 Building a Mosuo Home 19
3 Going Native 35
4 Getting to Know the Mosuos 51
5 Becoming the Godmother 69
6 Hunting and Eating in Bygone Times 87
7 How the Mosuo Women Rock 103
8 The Men Rock Too 123
9 A Marriage That Is Not a Marriage 143
10 The Matrilineal Ties That Bind 161
11 The Birth-Death Room 175
12 On the Knife-Edge of Extinction 187