This article is from WeChat official account:One ( ID: yitiaotv), editor: Xie Yimin, editor in charge: Shi Ming, source of head picture: “Naren Shuo”
In October 2020, the documentary “Naren Shuo” was launched. For the first time, we saw 25 Mosuo people collectively appear on the camera and speak: Who are we?
The Mosuo tribe is the only matrilineal clan society that still exists in China. “Walking marriage” is the public’s first stereotype of the Mosuo, and it is also the source of the deepest misunderstanding of them.
In the film, the Mosuo people reinterpreted their “walking marriage” tradition, how it includes love, responsibility and respect, as well as the characteristics of matrilineal patriarchy:
There are no “left-behind children” and “empty nest elderly”, and you can go home without making any money outside. You don’t need a gift for marriage, and there is no problem of adding a name to the house after marriage…
We interviewed Wang Zhe, the director of “Na Ren Shuo”, and two Mosuo people. The following are their self-reports.
The collective confession of the Mosuo people
“Can you fall in love with many women?”
“Naren Shuo” is an oral documentary about the Mosuo ethnic group. It has more than 20 Mosuo people standing in front of the camera and telling everyone who I am? How did I grow up? What do i miss? What makes me sad? So it was a collective confession from the Mosuo people.
We interviewed about 30 Mosuo people, including Dab, the female head of the Mosuo family, Daba, a spiritual leader in the Mosuo ethnic group, and interviewed the Mosuo culture. A very important profession, carpenter.
In the nearly 1 month shooting time, we seldom went to the noisy places such as bars and KTVs in Lugu Lake, and more often went to the Mosuo people’s home to get along with them.
In the process of contacting the Mosuo people, we will try to learn some Mosuo dialect and master some basic grammar and nouns, such as how “we” and “everyone” say, so that we In the interview, you can understand how they are talking.
Director Wang Zhe accepts an interview
There was a girl during the live interviewSimultaneous interpretation for us, because she can’t make a sound, so when the respondent speaks, she uses a pencil to write down the key words of each sentence in Chinese. For example, she would write “work”, “homesickness” and “huotang”, we can understand that the other person may be talking about where she lived while working in Beijing, but she still misses home very much and misses the Huotang at home so that we can speak Ask in time if there is no way.
The film we are seeing now is in the form of more than 20 Mosuo people telling the camera. In the middle, we also considered to follow a Mosuo family for a long time. But when we were doing research in the early stage, we chatted with many Mosuo people and could feel that they are extremely insecure about endorsing others, for example, they would say, who did he talk to last time? What happened, what became later. In such an era of information explosion, they feel that their voices are very weak.
We have a friend of Mosuo called Bingma. He said that most of the Mosuo people around him, even the children, may have suffered. “Did your parents get married?” “Do you know who your own father is? Is it?” “Can you fall in love with many women?” Such questions. So at that time we decided to let them speak for themselves, even the smallest voice.
Director Wang Zhe and Mosuo grandmother together
“When I encounter a snake on the road, I will ask Daba what to do?”
Actually, the connotation of Mosuo culture is very rich, its view of nature, its origin of creation, how do they view the relationship between people, what is the order of the family’s growth, and their lives Some criteria are not just a view of marriage or spouse.
So in the documentary we have divided 6 themes, “myth”, “daba”, “grandmother”, “love”, “outside world” and “future”. These themes are both important to Mosuo culture and allow us to There is sympathy.
For the Mosuo people, there are two more important religions involved in their lives, one is Buddhism, and the other is their native belief called Dabaism.
For their ethnic group, the two religions are not contradictory to each other, and they blend very well. Daba played a more in-depth role in their lives, because From the birth of a Mosuo, the coming-of-age ceremony to the death, there are rituals that are closely related to life in every month of the 12 months. In farming, some children are born in the family, or if something goes wrong, etc., Daba will preside over the ceremony.
Dabarao photos taken by Joseph Rock in the 1930s
The old photo of Dabbar is quoted from “Mosuo Art” by Liu Suihai
When Daba performs rituals, he needs to recite different scriptures. For example, they contain the scriptures of Genesis, how did the world come, how did the heaven and earth come, and worship the gods of water and mountains.
Daba is generally not a full-time job. He has his own profession. For example, some are monks and some are drivers. He must be invited to perform rituals that Daba should perform.
In the Chinese culture that we are familiar with, it is difficult to find a character like Daba to compare with, because we rarely entrust our lives to a certain person to decide.
But when the Mosuo people encounter problems that they can’t solve by themselves, they will go to Daba and hand their troubles and confusion to Daba. Daba will answer them. Once they are handed over, they will No longer worry about worries.
For example, when a Mosuo was driving today and saw a snake on the road, maybe the snake is in their cultural system. It is an unlucky or worrying thing, they will ask Daba what to do? Is it good or bad to encounter this snake in this situation? Is there any way to resolve it?
The most romantic person in the whole village
The oldest old Daba in our film is the most romantic person in the whole village.
Because he especially likes to see beautiful scenery, when he was young, he set up a simple shed on a mountainside near his home, then tidy up the small wooden shed, and sat in it to simmer tea. There is a kind of pot of tea that is being drunk in Yunnan and Sichuan. He made a fire, put the teapot aside, and put the tea in the pot. Then he was drinking tea while doing some woodwork, sitting in the mountains. Look at the scenery under the mountain in a small shed.
When he was a little older, he couldn’t walk that far because of inconvenient legs and feet, so he set up another shed in the backyard of his home, planted all kinds of flowers, and walked when he was fine. Ten walks to the shed, pouring up flowers, or just sitting there, doing nothing, looking at the flowers outside the shed with great satisfaction.
When we finished interviewing old Daba, he asked us to say that you are all from outside, my legs and feet are not very good, can you help me buy a plaster to treat the skin on my feet and send it to me , We said yes.
The oldest Daba Mupaduki in Muli
After returning to Beijing, I remembered that we had just made up the shorthand of this Arbor and translated the Mosuo dialect into Chinese. We wanted to send plasters to Lao Daba, so we contacted the village.
But unfortunately, they said that the old Daba had passed away yesterday, and now everyone in the village is helping him at his house and doing rituals for him. The old man is getting old and will always leave, but in our impression, Old Daba has always been the one who has only a few teeth left in his mouth and then grinned at us.
In my imagination, he always sits on the mountainside or in the backyard of his home, and he can enjoy the surrounding flowers and plants in a romantic mood.
The Mosuo people by the Lugu Lake
“If people outside walk like Mosuo, they will starve to death.”
In the past, Mosuo people rarely went to work outside. Relatively speaking, this ethnic group has a very important family concept, and the concept of hometown is also very important. If it is a last resort, they may not choose to work outside.
We heard Dabu, a brewing lady, said that if you don’t go out to work at home, your income will be very small, but if you go out to work, you can earn a few thousand yuan a year. Can manage the home and still live.
The brewing lady Dabu
Many of the young Mosuo people we have come into contact with are born in the 90s. When they were young, they had already developed information and the roads were open, so more and more people would go out to work.
But in fact, it is difficult for them to have too many career choices. The Mosuo people’s Mandarin is not that good, or they can’t write Chinese characters, so they can’t use the computer, and maybe they can’t keep an account. So they do more physical tasks, such as washing dishes in a restaurant, helping others move something, or helping people in a clothing store.
Mosuo young man Dan Zengdanla, went out to work and did 8 jobs
Furthermore, after working outside, it is difficult for them to accept the rhythm of big cities, even in central cities like Lijiang, it is already too fast for them. A carpenter said, The older generation of Mosuo taught the younger generation to walk slowly. If you walk fast, you feel anxious to grab something. This is a sign of no luck.. In the Mosuo culture, it is a blessed state to be leisurely and contented, not chasing or grabbing.
So he joked that if people outside walked like Mosuo people, they would starve to death, because there was nothing to fight for and nothing to grab. Their own culture has not cultivated them into a very competitive person.
Carpenter Dorje holds the children in the extended family
There is a young Mosuo named Gao Ge. He said that he realized that he was a Mosuo originally after he went outside. He went to Shenzhen and saw the big city of Shenzhen. When dealing with people outside, people would ask him, eh, you Mosuo people, ask him about things related to Mosuo culture, and he was telling people about it. Only then did he slowly understand his identity.
Most Mosuo people who go out to work will eventually return to their hometown. Because they have a very strong concept of hometown, when they reach a certain age, he feels that he wants to go home. They joked that if they died outside, they might not be a Mosuo.
Mosuo Youth Gaoge, now a promoter of Mosuo culture
In the Mosuo ethnic group, it is relatively rare for young and middle-aged people to go out to work, and children or the elderly are not taken care of. This is related to their special family structure.
According to the traditional Mosuo marriage model, the child lives with his mother in the mother’s big family, and the father lives in his original big family. He is an uncle and will raise his sister’s children.
In the mother’s big family, your uncle will take care of you, your aunt will take care of you, there will be grandma on top, and then there will be an old lady on top. Four generations live together, they willDo your best to raise younger generations and provide for the elderly, so there is no problem with the small family model of “left-behind children” and “left-behind elderly”.
“Individuals in the city, regardless of men and women, look like warriors.”
The house of the Mosuo is like the concept of a courtyard house. The tallest is the Jinglou. The grandmother’s house is one-story, and the grandmother lives in it. Next to the grandmother’s house is two-story or higher. There are even some large families who build two-and-a-half to three-story Jinglou. There are some flower houses next to them, which are the bedrooms of the younger generation.
Plan of Grandmother House
The grandmother’s house in the hearts of the Mosuo people is not only a space, it has its own soul. They will imagine how many ancestors have lived in this house, and they live in this house, they will feel that the ancestors’ gods are protecting themselves.
When they ate, there was a firepit, and there was a Guozhuang stone under the Huoshen brand. Every time they ate, they would put rice or vegetables on the Guozhuang stone. When they drank butter tea, they stood up and sprinkled it. These actions mean sacrifice to ancestors.
This kind of ritual sense always reminds you to respect every existence. The existence may be a god or a deceased predecessor.
So when we go to Mosuo’s house, we usually bring a little hand letter, even a bag of sweets, first go to their grandmother’s house to sacrifice the pot, and put the gifts we brought on their stove. They would warmly invite us to sit in the grandmother’s house, and then everyone would sit around the firepit.
Interior view of grandmother’s house
One time we filmed them dancing, and a collective dance of Mosuo people was called dancing. I thought they would stop dancing after we finished the filming, but they continued to sing and dance after we finished the filming. A group of people had a great time. This kind of mentality that can bloom at any time makes us feel that they are extremely free and passionate. They dance for the fun of dancing, not for our shooting tasks.
I feel homesick when I see these. Because when I was a child, I also used traditional stoves at home, and I also had some more gentle family habits and harmonious neighborhood relations. Sometimes life lacks a sense of rituals, but these rituals can actually make your spirit go from a very dry state to a more moisturized state. You will feel that you are surrounded by a certain culture, not without a place, so don’t be too afraid of the front.
We have lived in the city for a long time, and many times will look like a person with armor. We believe in personal abilities, do not easily reveal our weaknesses to others, and do not show our own fragility.
Because living in a city, one condition is not to cause trouble to others, so every individual in our city, whether male or female, looks like a soldier.
Mosuo woman and child in grandmother’s house
In addition to Wang Zhe, the director of “Naren Shuo”, we interviewed two Mosuo people who study their own culture. The following is their self-report:
Dan Slam, 28, Master of Ethnology, Yunnan University
It’s our tradition for thousands of years to sleep separately.
I was born in a family of Mosuo intellectuals. My father worked in the financial office of Ninglang County. He was the first of 6 siblings to go to high school. My mother was a Han nationality and worked at the post office. After the two got married, they returned to live in the countryside of Yongning and gave birth to me and sister.
Since childhood, parents have paid more attention to children’s education. My mother will order and study related magazines from the post office, Chinese composition, “Little Edison” popular science magazine, and Zheng Yuanjie’s fairy tales. Before junior high school, I studied in the countryside of Yongning. I had the opportunity to study at the High School Attached to Yunnan Normal University in Kunming. My family also supported me.
When I was in high school, my classmates were mostly Han nationality. Once I was at the same table holding an article in a magazine about the marriage of Mosuo people and asked me if it was true? You Mosuo don’t know who your father is? Can foreign tourists go to your place to get married?
Mosuo’s Bonfire Party
I was very surprised when I saw it. It’s not as written in the article. We all know who our father is. My little uncle and sister-in-law were married. He would ride a bicycle to my grandma’s house every night. The relationship between the two is very stable, but they don’t live together.
A few days ago, I saw a young man from Mosuo performing Climbing Flower Tower on Douyin. This should just cater to the imagination of the Mosuo people.
On our side, if the man and woman have a good relationship with each other, we will not go to each other’s house before we are sure of the marriage relationship, and more often we will meet in private. Until the two people are determined to be together, the man will come to the woman’s house one night, meet the elders, bring gifts, and offer them to Vulcan.
Actually, there is only a formal difference between marriage and marriage, that is, the spouse does not live together. Generally speaking, both husband and wife stay in their mother’s extended family.
Walking marriage does not mean that you can change partners at will. Although we do not have a statutory law that couples should be loyal to each other, there are moral laws. For example, people in a couple’s village know that they are young couples, and one of them is married. If others are ambiguous or good, everyone will not scold him in the face, but will still spurn in their hearts.
Mosuo female elders comb their hair for juniors
There are more and more marriages and separations
Now, we Mosuo people are not all matrilineal families. Generally speaking, there are three forms: matrilineal families where the husband and wife live separately, nuclear families where the husband and wife go out independently, and matrilineal and paternal dual-line families where the husband and wife live separately. .
Take our family as an example. Because my mother is a Han nationality, it is equivalent to marrying in to live in my father’s big family. My sister-in-law is married here, and my sister-in-law’s children also live with us, aunt I separated from my uncle and went out to live by myself.
The separation of families in Mosuo families is becoming more and more common now. When I was young, I lived with a family of 14 people. Soon my parents also separated a plot from my grandma’s house and built their own house to live alone.
The older generation of Mosuo is actually not able to accept this situation. They believe that the people and property in the extended family should not be divided. Therefore, the younger generations will be more solemn when it comes to separation. Two people who are trustworthy should discuss that the location should not be too far away from the hometown, basically it is in the village, and then they will talk about it when the whole family is there.
As for whether the house is built next to the man’s house or the woman’s house, it depends on the situation of the children on both sides. If it happens that there are more men in the man’s family and fewer women in the woman’s family, then build it near the woman’s home to try to ensure that the number of men and women in both large families is balanced and easy to handle.
An old photo of the Mosuo family. The picture was taken in the 1990s
Outside the male lead, the female lead does not hinder equality between men and women
In the Mosuo family, female elders are generally headed, and the female director in the family is called Dab.
When I was young, my dab was my grandmother. She would assign a family to do what they did. For example, my aunt was responsible for cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes, my uncle went to the mountains to chop wood and put pigs, and the girls went to cut. Pig grass, the boy is going to herd cattle, she feeds the pigs, cattle and sheep by herself.
Money is also in charge of grandma. Except for food, cows and horses, the biggest expense is the children’s tuition. My decision to go to high school in Kunming was made by myself. My grandmother didn’t intervene much. My father felt Kunming was too far away from home and worried that it would be difficult for me to adapt to the transition from a small village to the provincial capital. But I didn’t want to give up this opportunity, and my family supported it. Every time I came back from Kunming, my grandma would tell me to study hard outside and take care of myself.
An elderly grandmother
The people in the village will treat guests in March before and after the new year. The celebrations or the construction of new houses are usually attended by female supervisors on behalf of the whole family. Guests will bring a gift box made of cash and bamboo to the host. The gift box may contain rice or tobacco, alcohol and tea, and the host will prepare a separate gift box in return.
Actually, the Mosuo people are also in the division of labor between “women in charge and men in charge of outside”. Women are in charge of internal affairs, while men such as uncles are responsible for doing business outside and ask for help. But our Mosuo people’s concept of men and women is more equal. The root cause may lie in the heir system.To calculate, we follow the mother’s surname most of the time, and the child lives in the mother’s big family after the child is born.
Bingma, 26 years old, deputy curator of Mosuo Folk Museum
I can’t find a Dabbah who masters all Dabbah again
Daba used to be the equivalent of a Tibetan “guru” in the lives of the Mosuo people.
When the Mosuo encounter some supernatural phenomena that they can’t explain, they will consult Daba. For example, we all know that snakes hibernate. If in winter, if you go out and see a snake, or the snake comes home, the Mosuo people will think this is a symbol of bad luck, and they are very upset, so they will invite you. Ba Lai solved the confusion and asked him to judge whether this matter was really harmful to him, and if so, ask him to perform related rituals to eliminate the disaster.
The Mosuo family usually invites Daba to come home to recite scriptures during weddings and funerals or offering sacrifices to the kitchen god during the Spring Festival. When I was 13 years old for the coming-of-age ceremony, both of my parents were working in the county seat and made a special trip back to the countryside of Ningli to do the ceremony.
The ceremony was held on the morning of the first day of the Lunar New Year. Daba would be there. The male elders with the same sign on the birthday helped me take off my old clothes and changed my clothes. After changing clothes, he was next to the male pillar in the grandmother’s house, with one foot on the pig fat and the other on the grain, meaning that he would not worry about food and clothing in the future. Then kowtow to the Guozhuang and the old people present, and Daba recite the blessings, and the next two to three days will continue to the relatives’ homes.
Daba is generally part-time. They perform rituals for the people in the village. Each household will give some symbolic remuneration, but it is very meagre and basically a voluntary act, and it cannot make a living. Therefore, most of Daba comes from a family, and his parents and grandparents have been engaged in this profession.
AlsoThere are apprentices. For example, the old Daba in a village has passed away, and there is no new Daba to take over. It is inconvenient to go outside and ask Daba to come over. If someone wants to learn to be a Daba, the whole village will provide financial support. With spiritual support, a grand celebration ceremony will be held for Xindaba on the day of graduation.
The old photo of Dabbar was taken by Ruheng Ciren Duoji in the 1990s
Now there are very few Daba in Yongning, and there is no Daba who can master more than 60 Daba Sutras.
Dabaism and Tibetan Buddhism existed in Mosuo society at the same time. Many rituals can be done by Daba and lamas. The Buddhist system is more rigorous, and there are very strict requirements on the dress and life of the lamas. Every household will provide support. Unlike Daba who is usually indistinguishable from ordinary people, it is more respected in Mosuo society. . Therefore, the Mosuo people in the Yongning area often invite lamas to perform ceremonies, not as good as the Dabaduo in the areas of Rabo and Muli.
Bilingual teaching is popular in Mosuo school
The current Mosuo society and the outside world are on the same frequency. Children like to watch short videos, play mobile games, and watch favorite cartoons as members of iQiyi. When we were young, we liked playing in the water and mud, but we also liked watching TV and renting video discs on the street.
Mosuo children are more accustomed to speaking Mandarin, in fact, our generation is also. When children go to school to study, the first thing they do is to speak Mandarin and write Chinese characters. The teacher also asks to learn Mandarin from novels. They only speak their mother tongue, and cannot integrate into society without speaking Mandarin.
In the past two years, the Mosuo people have a strong awareness of protecting their mother tongue, and bilingual teaching has become popular in schools again, learning their mother tongue first, then Mandarin. The elders in the family will also ask the children to speak Mandarin at school, but must speak Mosuo at home. If the child speaks smoothly in Mandarin, his elders will correct him and ask him to speak the same meaning in Mosuo again. Therefore, many children speak Mosuo and Mandarin very slippery among my relatives and friends.
Among the Mosuo people who go out to work, there are some who are big leaders of the company, but they come back very often, maybe 6-7 out of 10 people will come back. When the farm is busy, I help my family. In recent years, Lugu Lake tourism has been developed. The local area also needs a lot of labor. There are various service personnel and art performers. Many people choose to work in their hometowns.
The little Mosuo boy in the film said that he wants to be an explorer, not a boss. After making money, he will go to the world to explore. In fact, the spirit of adventure is the commonality of Mosuo men. We have a caravan tradition of driving horses and doing business for a long time. People in the past may also be eager to go out for a break. Rather than saying that the younger you are, the more you yearn to venture out, as it is a continuation of tradition.
butMost of the Mosuo people who have gone outside are more willing to return to their hometown, which may also be related to the strong hometown complex of the Mosuo people. The Mosuo people believed that if they could not die at home, they would not be able to return to “Sibuanawa” (Mosuo ancestral land). Death outside is regarded as accidental death or abnormal death, which is very unlucky for the Mosuo people.
No matter which ethnic group you are, you may prefer the familiar, warm, and growing up environment in your heart.
The Mosuo people you don’t know
The coming-of-age ceremony is one of the important ceremonies in the life of the Mosuo people. The Mosuo people are considered adults at the age of 13, women wear skirts and men wear pants.
The dressing ceremony was presided over by the mother. The girl stepped on the pig fat and grain pockets, and the mother dressed the girl in adult clothes. Women in adulthood should keep their hair braids. And can wear different accessories.
The trouser-wearing ceremony is presided over by the uncle. The boys must bring some food to the dogs, as a person’s gratitude to the dogs when they grow up. The young man passed the roof of the main house with a spear in his hand as a weapon he carried for life.
When getting married, the man can only sneak into the woman’s “flower house” (i.e. the woman’s room) after nightfall, after sharing the bed with the woman , And leave (“shuttle out”) before dawn. This kind of marriage relies only on emotions and has nothing to do with all external conditions such as the economy.
This article is from WeChat official account:One (ID: yitiaotv), editor: Xie Yimin, editor in charge: Shi Ming