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My Uncle, My Father

Tourists take pony rides led by Mosuo women at Lugu Lake. Yunnan, China.
Tourists take pony rides led by Mosuo women at Lugu Lake. Yunnan, China.

Introduction

In Aguwa village, Yunnan province, the Mosuo continue to practice their ancient tradition of matriarchy. Women rule the tightly-knit families as heads of households, while men practice “walking marriages,” fathering children whom they seldom help raise. Instead, these men are duty-bound to stay with their families and take care of their sisters’ children, so as to keep family bonds intact. These “uncle-fathers” serve an important role in the Mosuo culture even as it slowly disappears. —Edwin Koo

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Koo is a Singaporean documentary photographer currently represented by Cosmos and based in Katmandu, Nepal since 2008. From 2005 to 2008 Koo was a staff photographer with The (Singapore) Straits...