chapter  7
14 Pages

Chiu Chin: the beheaded martyr

I learned about Chiu Chin when I was in grade three, at about eight years old. I remember the silence in the classroom when Miss Mui told us the story of Chiu Chin.1 Born in 1875, she lived during the tumultuous times when the last of the Chinese dynasties was falling, wars with foreign powers were weakening China, and young revolutionaries were struggling to bring the ®rst Chinese republic into existence. Towards the end of her short life, Chiu Chin became one of the most passionate and in¯uential of these revolutionaries, and was beheaded by the still-ruling Manchus when she was only 31 years old. Before her death she fought valiantly for the rights of women, the poor, and the oppressed. Miss Mui explained to us that she was a martyr and had died as a nu ying xiong, a female hero. Although we were too young to grasp the whole story ± let alone the social and psychological meaning of her death ± we were speechless; some even wept, and her story was deeply imprinted on our young minds.