(Southwest University for Nationalities)
Paper Short Abstract:
According to their ancient records, the patrilineal Nuosu or ‘Liangshan Yi’ people on the Sichuan/Yunnan border, China, an indigenous group of people numbering around three million, used to be a matrilineal society. We are looking here at traits signalling this ancestry.
Paper long abstract:
On the border between Sichuan and Yunnan, China, the Nuoso or Liangshan Yi ethnic minority, an indigenous group of people numbering around three million, used to be a matrilineal society. According to the ancient genealogical records of the Nuosu, they shifted to patrilineal clans about 4200 years ago. But they kept traces of their previous matrilineal culture and visible traits signal the importance of women in their society. For the Nuosu, where 'men are the root, and women are the flower of the patrilineal clan,' the male must provide for the plant in order for the female to produce offspring. The diviner who is consulted for the family rituals and important decisions starts from the horoscope of the mother's date of birth or date of her giving birth to a son. Also, when there was internal conflict in Nuosu society, once the women came to intervene, then the two sides had to stop or risk having the victorious side regarded as the loser. Many historical cases reflect this role for women in mediation. Lastly, if the 'Zimo' (official appointed by the royal court) had daughters but no son, he selected a married daughter and brought the young couple into his household (from the household of his daughter's father-in-law). This would allow their son to inherit the bloodline and the official title. However, the son should address his mother as 'father' and his grandmother as 'grandfather'.