As of 2019, there are now only 15 self-combed women left in Dongguan, with an average age of 97. Due to their significant impact in history, a Self-Combed Women Museum was opened in Changping for locals to remember this part of vanishing history.
Self-combed women are those who determinedly chose to remain unmarried for their entire life, during the late Qing dynasty when the silk industry in the Pearl River Delta was affected by the impact of European and American colonial countries. At that time, numerous women left China to the area of Nanyang (south-east countries around the South China Sea) to make a living. Most of them wanted to earn more money and to transfer it back home rather than being in a relationship, so they defiantly plaited their hair into braids—the traditional symbol for married women in China—to show their determination.
When they returned to China, some women gathered together and collected money to build houses for taking care of each other in the elderly life. The Changping Self-Combed Women Museum is set in one of these houses, which was built in the 1980s. There are more than 100 items on display, depicting the history of Dongguan’s brave and independent women. The museum is free entry.
Address: No. 28, Nan Men Street, Changping