THE WORLDPOST
12/21/2010 11:18 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

China's Mosuo Tribe: The World's Last Matriarchy?

Women from the Mosuo tribe do not marry, take as many lovers as they wish and have no word for "father" or "husband." But the arrival of tourism and the sex industry is changing their culture.

Two women row a canoe made of driftwood across a lake, their eyes fixed on a destination in the distance. The woman in the foreground bites her bottom lip with determination. There's a steeliness in her expression that says she's done this many times before.

In a series of exceptional photographs, Italian photographer Luca Locatelli spent a month documenting the lives of the Mosuo tribe, often described as one of the last matriarchal societies in the world. Locatelli travelled to Lugu Lake in southwest China, 2,700 metres above sea level, taking two days to reach his destination by road. There, in a valley on the border of the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, he shadowed a society where women are in charge and where there are no words to express the concepts of "father" or "husband".

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