Walking Marriages

Yang Erche Namu, Lake Lugu, Eastern Himalayas, China.

Singer and author. www.namu.com.cn

(Submitted by The Art of Living Team)

In our Moso language there are no words for husband, wife, jealousy or fidelity; women make all the decisions about who they go with and who they stay with. A man may be an azhu, a close male friend, but that’s as close as we get to any form of marital obligation.

According to our tradition, a family should never divide. In the Moso culture, marriage is considered to be an attack on the family. We practice zouhun, ‘walking marriage’, in which a man and a woman may spend the night together, but he walks back to his own home in the morning. Couples share neither ties nor possessions. We women inherit all the property and bring up the children, who grow up side by side with their cousins - the children of our mother’s sisters.

The only men who live in the house are our brothers and uncles. So in place of one father, Moso children have many uncles who take care of them.

Women and men should not marry, for love is like the seasons - it comes and goes.

Among my people this is how families live together.

From 'Leaving Mother Lake' by Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu, 2003, Little, Brown & Company.

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