Lisu - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Traditionally, both kinship and the village community were important in social life. A recognized, respected elder headed every village; he settled disputes, presided over community sacrificial ceremonies, and, in earlier times, dealt with military matters. Clan members and fellow villagers were participants in funerals and weddings, but only clan members received a share of the betrothal gifts and foods.

Political Organization. Prior to 1949, under the Guomindang, the Lisu villages were reorganized under the bao-jia system, with ten households forming a basic unit for political control and ten such units grouped under the leadership of appointed headmen, who were usually heads of the clans. During wartime, the villages formed an alliance, but this ended when the war was over.

Conflict. The most frequent internal conflicts arose out of debts, marriage disputes, and accusations of use of witchcraft to spread disease.

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