About the author: Christine Mathieu was born in France. She immigrated to Australia a a young adult where she pursued her undergraduate studies in Anthropology at the University of Western Australia. She earned her doctorate in Social Sciences in Asian Studies from Murdoch University. Mathieu was among the first Western scholars to return to northern Yunnan in the early 1990s, four decades after the region was closed to foreigners. She was also the first Western scholar to do fieldwork among the Mosuo people of Labei and to study Mosuo religion. To date, she is the only scholar to have produced an in-depth historical study of Naxi and Mosuo. She currently teaches anthropology at Saint Mary’s College of California. She has contributed several chapters on Mosuo religion and culture for various anthologies.2003 0-7734-6645-2
This study contributes to Naxi and Mosuo studies, Chinese, Yunnanese and Himalayan studies, and the fields of anthropology, history, ethnic studies, and religion. It is a multidimensional anthropological study devoted to the history of Naxi social institutions and the political history of the southwestern Sino-Tibetan frontier. This study presents original data on both matrilineal and patrilineal Mosuo society, and original ethnographic information on patrilineal Mosuo families and marriage system. It also proposes a Mosuo matriarchal history, a significant claim for anthropological theory. It also contributes to the fields of Himalayan studies and pre-Buddhist religions and the relationship between religion and politics in tribal societies. It explains the origins of Naxi Dongba pictographic script in territorial cults and military expansion. On the basis of her own fieldwork, the author also describes the rapidly disappearing Mosuo Daba religion, of which little is known outside China. It presents an entirely original reading of primary and secondary Chinese sources.