Kin Groups and Descent. The Lisu are divided into clans or surname groups ( zo ) that are patrilineal, exogamous, nonlocalized groups differing slightly in religious beliefs and rituals, associated clan spirits, observance or timing of minor ceremonies, and the arrangement of household ritual shelves to honor patrilineal ancestors. Zo are named after flora and fauna: bya (honeybee), dzuh (hemp), gwa (buckwheat), ngwa (fish), suh (wood or tree), wu (bear). Certain zo are identified as Chinese clans, distinct from true Lisu clans: cang, cu, ho, il , tao, ts'ao, wang, wu (different from the bear clan), and yang. Although a zo does not have a formal organization, never acts as a unit, and is theoretically equal in status to every other zo, the potential for clan feuds, status conflicts, and accusations of witchcraft against whole clans is always present. One seeks allies, neighbors, and hosts from fellow zo members.
Kinship Terminology. Lisu use a Hawaiian cousin terminology reflecting the importance of generational differences.