Hairpin in Borderland: Women’s Poetry and Inscription Community in Poems on the Broken Hairpin

Yuanfei WANG (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


Tang Yifen (1778-1853) was an artist and military official from Jiangsu. His father and grandfather both became martyrs in 1795 in the Qing empire’s battle to pacify the rebellion of Lin Shuangwen (c.a. 1787) in Taiwan. Tang Yifen’s virtuous and talented mother (1752-1812) lived an arduous life, quite unimaginable to an average gentlewoman from Jiangnan. For thirty-nine years, she followed her husband to sojourn in Lingnan—the southern border of China—to perform his military duty for the Qing empire. The lady from Jiangsu also died in Lingnan, away from her hometown. Sometime before her death, Tang Yifen’s mother was greatly saddened by the breaking of her most endearing hairpin, and wrote two poems to commemorate it. Thereupon, her filial son composed The Painting of [My Mother] Chanting Poems on her Hairpin, and summoned a public call for inscription poems on her broken hairpin. Over the span of several years, before and after Madam Tang’s death, altogether, more than seven hundred poems were collected and published as Poems on the Broken Hairpin to honour the virtuous mother and the Tang family’s loyalty and sacrifice. This paper will discuss how the women poets’ inscription poems constitute an imagined inscription community that shares a common psychic about a gentlewoman’s sojourn in imperial borderland.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2024
EventAssociation for Asian Studies Annual Conference 2024 - Seattle, United States
Duration: 14 Mar 202417 Mar 2024


ConferenceAssociation for Asian Studies Annual Conference 2024
Abbreviated titleAAS2024
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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