Lugu Lake: A Stunning Plateau Pearl With Unique Mosuo Culture
Since the launch of the reality show The Inn, Lugu Lake has become one of the most favored spots for travelers. In late May, gusts of wind reach here, bringing the key to Lugu Lake's mystery. With retained natural beauty, Lugu Lake, straddling the remote Yunnan-Sichuan border, is a mysterious land renowned for its stunning scenery and unique Mosuo people who are considered as “a living fossil for researching the marital development history of human beings”. Encircled with hills, Lugu Lake likes a shining pearl that is little tainted by modern industry. When you arrive at the Lugu Lake, the first sight of its crystal-clear water will take your breath away. In addition, diverse experience and joy are waiting for you in the “Home of the Matriarchal Tribe”.
Blue beyond words
In Mosuo language, “Lu” means “valley”, while “Gu” means “in”, for which Lugu Lake means “the lake in the valley”. Embraced in green mountains, Lugu Lake, at an elevation of 2,690m, has a quite graceful natural shape — a horse's hoof shape. With its green rippling waves and attractive scenery, Lugu Lake is reputed as the “plateau pearl” inlayed in the embrace of mountains. In the morning, mist mixed with the sunshine of the rising sun offers the lake an orange glow. In the afternoon, when hills cast their shadows onto the surface of the lake, the water has the jade-green color. When the sun goes down, the lake is calm and the water becomes dark green.
Some people like to visit there for its beautiful flowers in blossom season. Flowers are blossom in different seasons, including peach blossom and pear flower in March and April, ghent azalea in May, June and July, sunflower in August and September, and coreopsis in October and November, presenting you a charming painting scenery. In spring, Lugu Lake is a land full of various blossoms, looking like a scenery of "Land of Idyllic Beauty". The temperature of Lugu Lake in summer is not hot, which can be said that it is the summer resort. In autumn, its surrounded mountains turn into a red and golden world with leaves changing. The winter of Lugu Lake is not cold and the surface of the lake may not be icy. At that time, it turns into a world of waterfowl. When winter comes, the rare migratory birds, such as swan and black-necked crane, will migrate to here for their winter, which will add a type of lively scene to Lugu Lake.
On the lake, there are five islands, three peninsulas and a sea-wall islet. Renewed as "the three islands from the fabled abode of immortals", the Heiwawu Island, Liwubi Island and Lige Island are like green boats floating on the lake. Inside the lush and virgin forest, panthers, roe, deer, bobtail monkeys and many other protected animals are known to appear, providing a kind of wild fun, which may make people too delighted to leave. Caohai Lake, also named Grass Sea due to the dense reed which looks like a sea of grass from the long distance, is a jade located in the southeast of Lugu Lake. Near the Caohai Lake, there are attractions including Walking Marriage Bridge, Lama Temple, Lover's Trees, Holy Gemu Mountain and Goddess Gulf.
Cycling is an economic way to appreciate the lakeside. In addition, considering there are many islands, go canoeing is another good choice to enjoy a leisurely morning or afternoon. Local boat, known as Zhucao boat, is the traditional transportation of Mosuo people. Boating in the lake, you can feel that the surface of the water is as smooth as a mirror and as blue as the sky. In the evening, bonfire evening party is a local custom, where a bonfire is lit nightly and a song and dance show is put on. Local people and tourists usually are dancing in a circle around the bonfire.
■ Location: At the border between Ninglang County in Yunnan Province and Yanyuan County in Sichuan Province, about 200 kilometers from Lijiang City,
■ Best Time to Visit: From April to June, or from September to October
■ Activities: Boating, cycling, campfire party, and visiting Mosuo family
■ Others: Respect local culture and protect your skin from the sunshine
Home of the matriarchal tribe
In northwestern Yunnan, an ancient group the Mosuo lives around the mysterious and ancient Lugu Lake. At present, all of humanity are generally monogamous, but the nationality around the Lugu Lake still keep the maternal line that the females manage the family’s affairs and carry on the family line.
The Mosuo people don’t pay much attention to each other’s parentage, identity and status, but the character, ability and appearance. The male and the female don’t marry each other. They have the "Walking Marriage", which is not affected by parents and family’s intervention. “A Xiao” is the marriage form of pairing marriage. The men and women with the relationship of love call each other “A Xiao”. Their relation is not bonded by marriage. Both men and women still belong to their own families. The form of marriage is that the men visit the women’s houses and live there. The next morning, they will come back to their home. The children belong to the women’s family and the men generally don’t assume the responsibility to bring up their children. The relationships between men and women are not fixed.
In general, the man will give the clothes or kerchief as the gift. If the woman is willing to build up the relationship, she also can grab a pen or a piece of cloth. Besides, she also can present the man her embroidery belt. There also exists another form. When a man loves a woman, he should let the matchmaker take the woman’s dress, belts, shoes, tea and other things to the girl’s house and show the meaning. The
girl’s mother should ask for the girl’s advice. If the girl agrees, the gifts will be received immediately. The girl should give linen trousers and linen girdle in return. The first time the man goes to the girl’s house, he should be accompanied with the matchmaker or one of his best friends with tea, sugar and so on which will be distributed to the members of the same clan to show her daughter’s "A Xiao". Terminating this relationship is also convenient. After a period of time, if they have personality clash between each other, both the man and woman can put forward to end up the relationship. The male can say he will not come again or he would not visit the woman for a long term, so the engagement will be canceled. If the woman wants to end the relationship, she can let the man not come again or refuse the man to enter the house.
There are several reasons for the existence of "Walking Marriage". One is that the Mosuo matriarchal society is not completely collapsed and the outside influence is also weak. Another is that the social productivity is backward, not forming individual ownership. Females are still the main force to seek for the life materials. The blood knot makes the traditional concept deeply root. And the last one is that the upper officials are not against the "Walking Marriage".
(By Mo Tingting)