Women Reading in Colonial Vietnam

Phu Nu tan van cover image

This is one of my favorite images. It is from the cover of a journal which was published in Saigon in the late 1920s and early 1930s called Women’s News. It says at the top that it is a weekly which is published every Thursday. It then employs terms which today sound archaic as they come from classical Chinese, a language which Vietnamese had only recently ceased using in favor of writing in the vernacular using a Romanized script, to say that “The powdered and rouged [ones] embellish the mountains and rivers.” “Powdered and rouged” was a term which meant “women” and “mountains and rivers” indicated the “nation.” This journal was created in part to promote the “modernization” of women, and yet this statement on its cover strikes me as exceedingly conservative. I’d appreciate any ideas as to how this comment should be understood.

One thought on “Women Reading in Colonial Vietnam

  1. Pingback: Bui Tran Phuong : Viêt Nam 1918-1945, genre et modernité – Émergence de nouvelles perceptions et expérimentations | Mémoires d'Indochine

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