|Photo © Karolin Klüppel | All Rights Reserved|
And Karolin Klüppel's 'The Dabu' is a classic example of ethnophotography.
The Mosuo, also known as the Dabu, are a Chinese ethnic minority of around 40,000 people that enjoyed hundreds of years of relative stability in a complex matriarchal structure that values female power and decision-making. Centered around Lugu Lake; high up in the Himalayas between Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, the area is somewhat insular and is naturally protected from outside influences.
The area is known for the Mosuo, the ‘Kingdom of Women’. The most striking tradition among the Mosuo traditions is the practice of the “walking marriage”, where the women may choose and change partners as they wish. Since Mosuo children stay with their mothers’ families for life, men only visit their female partners by entering their houses at nighttime.
The Mosuo are often characterized as a matriarchal society, as the household heads are always women, who are responsible for all financial decisions and for passing of the family name and property. The matriarch (Ah mi, or elder female, in Chinese) is the head of the house. The Ah mi has absolute power. Mosuo women do all the housework, including cleaning, tending the fire, cooking, gathering firewood, feeding the livestock, and spinning and weaving.
Since the Cultural Revolution, Mosuo couples have been forced to marry, so their traditional way of life and stability have been been slowly changing. Chinese communists tried to dismantle much of the Mosuo’s traditions, burning monasteries and prayer books and outlawing their traditional walking marriages.