International Women’s Day 2023

By Special Collections|7th March 2023|Collections & Research|0 comments

Fascinating and feisty women from SOAS Special Collections to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month 2023.

勝大縣化彰中会姐小劉同會人夫孫 / Sun furen huitong Liu xiaojie Taizhong zhang hua dasheng / Sun’s Wife and the Liu sisters celebrate the great victory in Zhanghua in Taiwan, 吳文藝 Wu Wenyi, illustrator , Shanghai, 1895. Chinese woodblock print, reference CWP 11.

Even after the signing of the 1895 peace treaty marking the end of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, Taiwanese resistance forces, led by General Liu Yongfu (1837-1917) of the Black Flag Army, continued to attack the occupying Japanese troops. Madam Zhang (in the middle, on a blue horse), wife of Commander-in-chief Sun, formed the women’s resistance force to avenge the death of her husband. She was accompanied into battle by the Liu sisters, probably daughters of General Liu, who is shown in the top right. The scene represents their victorious battle in Zhanghua, which took place on the 27th day of the seventh lunar month of 1895. 

The battle scene depicted here refers to the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. Although China was defeated this print nevertheless acknowledges one of their few victorious battles against the Japanese aggressor. In 1894 the Cantonese general Liu Yongfu (1837-1917), whose reputation was legendary for his resistance against the Taiping rebels in 1864 and his assistance in the Franco-Vietnamese war against the French in 1873, had now been appointed to help defend Taiwan. Under his command the Black Flag Army carried on a tenacious struggle against the Japanese. In this scene he is watching the battle of the 27th of the seventh lunar month in which several thousand Chinese soldiers died. The print was commissioned by Commander-in-chief Sun, whose heroic wife Madam Zhang died in battle, to cherish her memory. Both Madam Zhang and Miss Liu? who is probably affiliated to general Liu, were appointed commander of their troops and they are seen here recapturing a Taiwanese city from the Japanese.

See this and more images from the Chinese Woodblock collection at SOAS Library on our Digital Collections.

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