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Her own room

by Melisa Fajkovic

Lugu Lake, Yunnan province

CiLi NaCuo adjusts her hair wig. She looks out at the crowd on the mountain plateau.


Today, the day after the Chinese New Year, families in Lugu Lake celebrates their thirteen year olds transition to adulthood. The annual "Coming of Age" Ceremony is considered one of the most important events in a Mosuo child’s life.


Mosuo is a small female dominated ethnic group living high up in the Tibetan Himalayas. The society is matriarchal and in every family the oldest grandmother is in charge.


The ethnic group practices Walking Marriage, which means that men and woman are free to have multiple romantic partners, and can initiate or break off relationships when they please. When a child is born, it lives with it’s mother and her family their whole life. When the man visits a woman he has to do it at night, and he has to return to his mothers house before sunrise. After the "Coming of Age" Ceremony the girls will be given their own private room in their home.


In the village LuoShui, around the Lugu lake, a lot of big Mosuo families live. Because of the increasing boom of tourism, this has made the living condition better for the Mosuo. Many own hotels, restaurants or shops to earn money. Buses come up the tall mountains every day, crowded with curious tourists. It takes nine hours and the road is bumpy.


At the end of this year, they are opening an airport in Lugu Lake, which will result in more tourists the coming years.


After the Spring Festival, most of the youth in Lugu Lake goes back to school in the bigger cities nearby, like Lijiang or Kunming. Ciren Youngzhen (19) is one of many Mosuo girls living in Kunming to get an education. When they are finished with school they wish to come home, or live as close home as they can.