The Charming Lugu Lake
Ihave seen the magnificent and limitless Dongting Lake, the vast and fogg y Taihu Lake an and the ri rippling and charming W West La ke. But none can erase my longing for the mysterious and f fantastical Lugu Lake. The Lugu Lake w was called the Haizi of the grottoes, also kn known as Zuosuo Lake. It is commonly known as the bright lake. The loca locals call it “Xie Naimi”, mean meaning the mother lake. This lake is surrounded by a group of mountains which are beside Yongning Villag Village( in the northern Ningla Ninglang County) and on the left side of the Yanyuan County in Liangshan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province.
The deepest freshwater lake spanning two provinces
Daluoshui village next to the Lugu Lake is 73 kilometers away from Ninglang county and 200 kilometers away from Lijiang. It is a boundary lake shared by the two provinces: Sichuan and Yunnan. Two-thirds of the lake is in Sichuan and one-third in Yunnan. The Lugu Lake covers an area of more than 50 square kilometers, with an elevation of 2,690 meters, an average water depth of 45 meters and the deepest point is 93 meters under the surface. Its transparency is up to 11 meters and the maximum visibility is of 12 meters. The lake featured with clear water and is regarded as the highest Lake in Yunnan province, one of the deepest freshwater lakes in China,
and also the largest natural freshwater lake in Sichuan province, known as the “Pearl of the Plateau”.
There are five islands, three peninsulas and one seawall island in the Lugu Lake. Their shapes are different from each other, but all are green as jade. The lakeshore bends treacherously and is covered by a dense forest. The Lugu Lake is also seems like a giant sapphire or a radiant mirror hidden by the creator. The mountains, the water and the plants here are all endowed with the female image depicted in fairy tales, making the lake become the veritable “country of women”.
There are so many things that attract tourists to focus on this mysterious land, such as the picturesque scenery of the Lugu Lake, the unique ancient folkcustom relics of the matriarchal society, the story of “Noah’s Ark” in Christianity, and the fascinating drum and bell of the Lamaism.
The Heiwawu Island, Li Wu Bi Island and Rig Island on the Ninglang side are the three most attractive spots in the lake with the highest sightseeing values. They are known as the “Three Islands in Penglai”. Heiwawu Island is located in the heart of the lake, 2,500 meters away from the lakeshore. Full of trees, this island is the habitat of wild ducks and migratory birds, which are always on the move. It was also the water palace of the former Yongningchieftain Ayun mountain. It is said that American explorer John Rock once traveled and lived here.
Living by the mountains and water
The Mountain of the Goddess is 3,754.7 meters above sea level and is the highest peak around the lake. Looking far away from the south and crossing the lake, you may find that the Mountain of the Goddess looks like a lion lying beside the lake with her head held high. For that hat reason, people also call it the Lion Rock. In the Mosuo mythology, this mountain is the embodiment ment of the goddess Gem. m. The shape of the lake is s like a half-moon. Only when you climb the goddess ddess mountain can you see the panoramic mic view of the Lugu gu Lake. During the he Zhuanshan festival, al, the Mosuo people e will go to the mountain to worship the goddess. From the hilltop to the foot, the crowd climbing ng the mountain looks like a long, colorful olorful dragon, proudly singing the “Goddess Song”. g”.
Xiaoluoshui Village, seated on the foot of Mountain of the Goddess, is located in the northern part of the Lugu Lake and is one of the oldest villages of the Mosuo tribe. The boundary of Yunnan and Sichuan is right at the entrance of the village. The road around the lake is clearly cut into two sections there: the stone pavement belongs to Yunnan province and the asphalt pavement is in Sichuan province. It is a traditional and ancient Mosuo village with only 24 households left. The
ancient residential buildings and the original ecological folk customs of Mosuo have been well preserved until now. In recent years, Xiaoluoshui Village has been opened to the outside world, becoming a base for tourists, experts and scholars to experience the Mosuo style.
The Black Lama Temple built on the Caohai Lake is a religious place of the oldest sect in Tibetan Buddhism, “Benbo sect” (also known as Black Sect), and the ceremonial activities here are held regularly, becoming a grand festival for the Mosuo people.
Mosuo tribe villageis located in the deepwater area along the lakeshore. Boarding from there and passing the Caohai Lake, tourists cangointo the “Bright Lake” (the deep water area of the Lugu Lake) and directly steer to Boou Island (also known as the Princess Island), then boating along the Boou Lake Bay and finally landing in Luowa Village. There is no travel routethat can be more characteristic than this.
A secular version of country of women” with a special marriage custom
The Mosuopeople of Naxi nationality who have lived beside the Lugu Lake for generations have unique marriage customs. The heads of their family are all women, and their family members are all of maternal origin. Among the family members, the ancestors are all grandmothers from maternal side and their siblings. As for the mothers’ generation, there are only mothers, and their brothers and sisters. The children of this kind of marriage call their fathers “Abo” or “Ada” .
The country of women mentioned in the folklore of all countries in the world now may only exiting in the Mosuo. They still retain the matriarchal family system where female are in charge of the family and bring up the next generations, and the matriarchal clan marriage system (commonly known as walking marriage), which is “No marriage, association and separation are freewill”. Today, monogamy is widely accepted in human society, but people living beside the Lake still retain the “Axia” marriage which has the characteristics of pairing marriage in ancient China. “Axia” is the mutual name of both men and women who have a love relationship among the Mosuo people in this area. They are also called “Xia Bo” and “Axia”. The distinguishing feature of this kind of marriage is that there is no wedding between intimate partners, and both men and women belong to their original family. The form of this kind of marriage is that the man visits and stays at the woman’s home, and returns to his home the next morning. Because it is a marriage realized by the man’s “walking”, the locals call this relationship a “walking marriage”. The children belong to the woman, taking the mother’s surname, and the man does not have to bear the responsibility for nurturing kids. Generally, a man or woman has only one “Axia”, and only when they are incompatible with each other will the relationship be cut off, and then they can find another “Axia”. There is a wooden bridge that spans the Caohai Lake and connects the villages on both sides of the lake. It is more than 300 meters long and provides a convenient passage for “Axias” to perform their “walking marriage”, which is why it is also known as “the first love bridge in the world.”
Great landscape with even better delicacies
In the fertile land of the Lugu Lake, local food culture is deeply rooted in nature. Just enter a wooden raft; the hospitable
owner will propose a bowl of Sulima to you (it’s a Mosuo wine made by traditional craftsmanship). It is produced by mixing a variety of grains such as highland barley, barley, wheat, buckwheat, hazelnut, corn, millet, etc., cooked in a large pot and baked until the bottom layer smells like crispy rice. It is then put aside until it cools down, and mixed with self-collected and self-made wine, put it into a bamboo strip-madefermentor and set it indoors, fermenting. When the alcohol is slightly distributed, the wine is sealed in a jar for about ten days. After unsealing the jar, the Mosuo will mix some alpine spring water with the wine then drink the juice from an open bamboo tube. This kind of wine is slightly orange, with a low alcohol content and mellow taste. What`s more, it also contains rich amino acids, vitamins and carbohydrates,thereby being called “Mosuo Beer”. It is often used for the Mosuo and Pumi people to welcome guests, and allegedly, drinking Sulima frequently can strengthen the spleen and promote appetite.
If you are fortunate enough to visit the Pumi and Mosuo people on the shores of the Lugu Lake, you must have the chance to taste the legendary Lute-shaped pork at heartyfolk banquets. This kind of pork is salted using a unique process after slaughtering a pig. It is made by removing all bones except the skull, applying various flavorings to the pork, then suture and pressed into a lute shape. Lute-shaped pork is often salted during winter, and once it is made it can be saved for several years without going bad, and is even used for medicinal uses if saved long enough. Due to the unique process and the rich spices, Lute-shaped pork tastes oily but not greasy, and not only delicious but also nutricious. It is a delicacy used by Pumi and Mosuo people to give as gifts and welcome guests.
Baked dried-fish is made from a kind of fish named Spanish Mackerel living in the Lugu Lake. The cocking process is: cut the fish open or cut a small mouth into the abdomen, remove the internal organs, sprinkle some salt, pepper and all spice, and then place the fish on the fire or in an iron pan baked slowly. When eating, cook the fish on a charcoal fire or fry itin cooking oil. The taste is crispy and delicious and this food is a kind of sacrifice that goes with wine. For cooking soup, the baked dried-fish could be used to boil a milky white soup, which is thick in flavor, excellent in taste and rich in nutrients. In the past, the caravans who went out often took a large amount of dried-fish in order to exchange for what they needed with foreign merchants.
“Qingna Manan” is a kind of fruit wine, which is a kind of oil squeezed by the Mosuo people with the wild plant Prinsepiautilis Royle. It is the original creation of the Mosuo people in this area. For thousands of years, Mosuo people drank Qingna Manan and used it as health care and medical supplies. The late spring and early summer is the ripening season of the green fruit. Crowds of Mosuo girls will hang the bamboo-made basket on their waist, hold wooden hooks, and collect the green fruits in the dense green thorn forest. After washing, drying, grinding, steaming and other processes, the clear and slightly golden fruit wine is extracted, giving off a rich fruits flavor.
The Lugu Lake combines the tranquil natural landscape with the unique humanistic landscape perfectly. Moreover, the Mosuo people have an important place in the world cultural heritage with its special ancient culture, customs and rich spiritual connotations.