Legend of Lugu Lake

Updated: 2011-06-22

There are many legends about Lugu Lake. According to one, the goddess Gemu was a diligent, beautiful girl in Zhebo Village at the foot of Lion Mountain. Young men admired her and wanted to court her. She turned them all down, sending each a band patterned with flowers. The mountain god took a fancy to her and blew her to the blue sky in a whirlwind on July 25 in the lunar calendar. All the people and livestock of Yongning dam area were startled and screamed. The mountain god laid her down. But she could not return to the world. She was attached to the white cliff of Lion Mountain, wearing her white robe and white skirt, riding a white deer, and holding a golden flute and pearl tree twigs to bless all living creatures on the shores of Lugu Lake. Lion Mountain became known as Gemu Goddess Mountain, and July 25 became a festival date of the Mosuo.

Gemu was beautiful and virtuous. She was a lover of mountain gods far and near. One day, a mountain god from afar came to visit Gemu and discovered she was dating another mountain god. He turned around and left. Gemu followed him, shedding sad tears in the hoof prints left by his horse, which turned into Lugu Lake. The far-off mountain god heard her cries, and cast some pearls and seeds of flowers in the lake. The pearls turned into islands and the flower seeds fluttered to the lakeside. Today, the gorgeous red and white rhododendron flowers along the shore of Lugu Lake and white lotuses in the lake, known as Haibaba in the Mosuo language, are said to have been scattered by the mountain god.

Also, according to legend, the South Mountain God “came to visit the goddess at night and left the next morning”. This mysterious dating mode of a “walking marriage” has been passed down to the present. This is why Mosuo women will not marry and leave their mothers’ homes.

Another folk legend says that in ancient times, a Mosuo herdsman went out in the morning and returned at night every day. He did not bring lunch with him. The father of the herdsman was curious and followed him silently into a dragon cave near the pasture. The cave was stuffed with a giant fish. Every day, the herdsman went to the cave to slice a piece flesh from the fish to eat. The body of the fish would recover after each slice. Only the tail was visible from the cave. A buzzard in the village heard of the story and wanted the fish for himself. He invited some villagers to help him and pulled the giant fish out of the dragon cave using the force of nine yaks. Along with the roar from pulling the fish, torrents of water gushed and instantly flooded the basin. Only a mother feeding pigs at the foot of the mountain was witty enough to safeguard her two children inside a pig trough. The children slapped the water with wood chips that were used to stir and mix pig feed. The two children were saved, but the mother was drowned. Later, what the people called a pig trough boat was invented. To remember the mother who saved her children, people today continue to work and fish with pig trough boats in the lake. Lugu Lake became known as Mother Lake.


Sacred Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake is a mysterious land with charming sceneries and a unique matriarchal culture.

Folk Songs