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Where women rule

Soon after setting foot in the ancient town of Lijiang, on a high plateau in mountainous northwest Yunnan province, you will likely come across a large water-wheel and hear ethnic tunes, then catch sight of a group of dancers dancing in the middle of the square.

Mosuo people live around beautiful Lugu Lake in a "women's world", the only surviving matrilineal community in China. Li Li

They are elegant middle-aged women who move with an easy grace in long, gray-blue pleated skirts. These ethnic Naxi women come to town and dance, after finishing morning chores around their homes and farms, to earn a few tourist dollars.

As you stroll down the cobbled lanes that wind their way alongside brooks fed with fresh spring water from Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, north of Lijiang, an enterprising woman peddles wild strawberries picked that morning.

Down an alleyway en route to the heart of the old town in Sifangjie (Square Street), where visitors to Lijiang gather to feel the pulse of this World Heritage Site, a map-seller calls out in several foreign languages, while her sister hawks sightseeing tours.

If you are a keen shopper you will note the tiny stores lining the narrow streets are run by women shopkeepers and sales assistants, weaving shawls or tidying up native handicraft on the shelves.

When you tire after meandering up and down this hilly town gawking at intricately carved wooden doorways and cornices of two-story Naxi-designed wooden houses, it's time to find a restaurant and eat some fresh food, like the five mushrooms hotpot I tried at a restaurant run by women.

Then, just when you think you will not be surprised any more, you wander into a busy market where only the locals roam and find rows of meat stalls staffed by robust cleaver-wielding Naxi women known as the "lady butchers".

Key Words

Tea   West Lake   

Temple      Su Dongpo 


Fans   Embroidery


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