Self-combed Women

0916_city-factsIt’s rather hard to believe that over 100 years ago, when women didn’t have the freedom to choose their own spouses, there was a group of girls who combed up their hair and vowed not to marry for their entire life. Traditionally, women would only coil their hair into a chignon braid to symbolize their married status. Called “self-combed women,” this group was understandably quite isolated from mainstream society. It was all thanks to the opening up of China for trade in the 18th Century, where many factories—especially in the textile and silk industries—developed rapidly, which allowed some women to make a living on their own. The financial self-sufficiency led some woman to aspire for individual independence. Meanwhile, some other women had received an education, which also woke up their awareness of independence. These unique women were married to a sisterhood, moved away from their parents’ home and built up a house far from the ordinary families. In Dongguan, there are still 25 self-combed women alive that are spread across Gaobu, Qishi, Wangniudun, Hengli and Zhongtang.