Naxi - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. In Lijiang Naxi society, seniors and men are accorded a higher status than juniors and women. This reflects the power held by the coq-o sso, the "men of the patrilineage." In running the household, however, women exercise considerable authority, and it is women who manage most of the family-run businesses in Lijiang town. In Yongning, the control of women over the domestic sphere is even greater, but political offices were traditionally occupied only by men.

Political Organization. Naxi political organization in the 1980s does not differ markedly from that in other parts of China. In descending order of rank, the hierarchy of political units is: province, prefecture, county, district, township, and village. At each level above the village there are offices for both government and Communist party officials. Locally, party secretaries often exercise greater authority than their counterparts, the township headmen. Due to the proportion of Naxi living there, Lijiang County holds the status of an "autonomous nationality county." This gives the Naxi a degree of freedom to develop their own policies locally, as well as greater flexibility in implementing policies issuing from higher-level government organs.

Social Control. In resolving disputes the Naxi generally try to avoid using the court system and prefer informal mediation through kin networks. In this, the local patrilineage plays an important role. Traditionally, punishments, in some instances including death, were meted out by patrilineage elders. Today, persistent problems are taken to local officials for mediation before legal alternatives are sought. Gossip is also an important mechanism of behavior modification.

Conflict. Historically, warfare with neighboring ethnic groups was fairly common. Groups of Tibetans, Yi, and Pumi, in particular, often raided the more-settled Naxi. During the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), Naxi units fought with Han troops against the Tibetans on several occasions, and against the Hui in the Muslim uprising in Yunnan during the late nineteenth century.

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