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The Kingdom of Women

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“I never set out to write a book when I first stepped inside the Kingdom of Women. I was on a journey to discover my Chinese roots and explore the vast land of my ancestors with its 5,000 years of historical and cultural treasures. Picturesque Lugu Lake, on the borders of Yunnan and Sichuan in western China, the home of the Mosuo tribe, was just one stop on my grand tour of China. Tucked away in this remote part of China as a tribal community reputed to be one of the last surviving matrilineal societies in the world. The Mosuo tribe seemed to be frozen in a time and place that had long since died out in China. The fact that it was also matriarchal touched a deep nerve in me, too.”

Excerpt from the Prelude to The Kingdom of Women: Life, Love and Death in China’s Hidden Mountains by Choo Waihong, published by I.B. Tauris, p. xiii

Singaporean corporate lawyer turned writer Choo Waihong will be joining us for a very special talk about her book, The Kingdom of Women: Life, Love and Death in China’s Hidden Mountains, which offers an insider account of life in the Mosuo tribe and her life with them in China’s Yunnan Province.

A Mosuo matriarch such as this one always takes her prime place on the more important female side of the room by the family hearth, where the embers are never allowed to die out.

A Mosuo matriarch always takes prime place on the more important female side of the room by the family hearth, where the embers are never allowed to die out

The Mosuo tribe worship the female spirit, celebrate every aspect of womanhood and structure their social hierarchy according to maternal bloodlines. This offered a stark contrast to Choo Waihong’s own traditional Chinese upbringing and the male-dominated world of corporate law. Intrigued by the question of how the Mosuos have kept their traditions alive for thousands of years – not succumbing to the patriarchal influences in the world around them – Waihong became Godmother to a local Mosuo girl and became the first outsider to move into the heart of the community, where she stayed for six years.

She now spends half the year with the Mosuo tribe who helped her build a house for herself near Lugu Lake. In conversation with Isabel Hilton OBE, acclaimed journalist and editor of chinadialogue, Choo Waihong will be taking us on a journey through her experiences.

Building a house the Mosuo way

Building a house the Mosuo way

This original account of the Mosuo tribe is perfectly in line with current debates about traditional gender roles: Is the Mosuo way of life the perfect model of a feminist utopia? And, how can they be protected from a growing tourism industry that leaves them vulnerable to exploitation?

We recently published Literature Programme Manager Hande Eagle’s interview with Choo Waihong on the occasion of 2017 International Women’s Day to brush away common wide-spread misconceptions and to set the record straight on Mosuo traditions and their way of life.

The talk will be followed by a book signing. Chinese rice wine and prosecco will also be available at the cash bar after the talk.

To book tickets for this event, please click here.

General: £10, Concessions: £8, Asia House Arts Members: £5

Asia House Arts Members need to enter their unique membership number when booking online. This can be found on the back of your membership card. Please call 0207 307 5454 if you experience any issues booking tickets.


April 24, 2017
18:35 - 20:00
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Asia House
63 New Cavendish St W1G 7LP United Kingdom
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