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A hundred years ago, women in Guangzhou
Update: 2024-03-11     Source: Yangcheng Evening News

On March 8th, International Women's Day, the Exhibition themed "City Life in Contemporary Canton" was held in the Special Exhibition Hall of Zhenhai Building in Guangzhou Museum. Focusing on Guangzhou in the first three decades of the 20thcentury, the Exhibition centers on such three aspects as the old customs and new styles, enlightenment and education, and renewal of life, reflecting life reform and inner cultural renewal in contemporary Guangzhou. Among them, a number of artifacts on display provide a glimpse of the situation of women in Guangzhou a century ago.

In the exhibition hall, a diploma of Cui Zhinan, a graduate of the Guangdong Government Women's Primary Normal School in 1910, attracted our attention.

After the Revolution of 1911, the Guangdong Government Women's Primary Normal School was renamed Guangdong Women's Normal School, the first women's normal school in Guangdong. The diploma listed the subjects that the graduates had studied, the names of the teachers and the graduation exam scores, with a total of 13 subjects, including Japanese, mathematics, drawing, education, history, geography, physics, handicrafts, homemaking and music. Cui Zhinan graduated with a score of 80,387 and was listed as the most honored student.

"A hundred years ago in Guangzhou, women's right to education was gradually equalized by the introduction of the idea of 'equality between men and women.' In 1905, the Qing government abolished the imperial examination system and set up schools, after which western-style schools were commonly set up in Guangzhou. This diploma of Cui Zhinan in the museum is the physical evidence that women's education in Guangzhou was at the forefront of the country." Zeng Lingling, deputy director of the Guangzhou Museum, explained that some subjects such as handicrafts and housekeeping were taught in the schools to enable women to engage in some occupations in society without relying on family.

In addition to the situation of women, the Exhibition also outlines the life and culture of Guangzhou in the first three decades of the 20thcentury through the daily life, residents and cityscape, which is full of "hustle and bustle".

The marriage certificate from Li Ronglin, a resident of Guangzhou a century ago, maps the evolution of folk wedding culture at that time.

During the period of the late Qing Dynasty and earlyRepublic of China, new civilized concepts were gradually formed under the influence of Western thoughts, the May Fourth Movement and the New Culture Movement in China. The changes in society were visualized in wedding customs, with the marriage certificate gradually evolving from traditional red paper and black ink into both Chinese and Western styles. Improvements in printing techniques and the promotion of Western-style weddings have led more and more people to switch the cumbersome conventions of the "three letters and six etiquettes" in the past to the new-style weddings, choosing marriage certificates as the proof of their marriages.

In addition, the Guangzhou Museum collects restaurant menus from the period of theRepublic of China, fully reflecting the "food in Guangzhou".Dishes, side dishes, salty snacks, desserts and more were served on the menu with names full of "foreign flavors".A hundred years ago in Guangzhou, all kinds of restaurants and stalls were lined up, and the characteristics of Cantonese cuisine "combining the East and the West style" were well reflected at that time.

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