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Seeking and Managing Wealth: Advice from a Guangdong Mother in Late Qing China

Sat, June 25, 8:30 to 10:20am, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 104


This paper is a case study of a household instruction manual,
Zhijia yaoyi, authored by Qu Fengzhu (ca.1885-1926), a native of Panyu, Guangdong, who lived in late Qing and early Republican China.
There are plenty of works, in different genres, authored by Qing mothers to educate their children. Among these, Qu Fengzhu's Zhijia yaoyi is quite special in the sense that it basically focuses on the management of household wealth. Whereas other Qing mothers emphasized the importance for their sons of studying hard in order to secure a place in the government or to live with dignity, Qu taught her children to manage wealth properly in order to sustain the family economy. She set four rules in her book: no buying on credit, no borrowing money, don't be greedy, and don't plan to take advantage. She strongly advocated that to run the family one must be hardworking and thrifty.This paper will try to link Zhijia yaoyi to the commercialized environment that Qu lived in. Insights into how an authoritative mother tried to lead her family to resist materialistic temptations in a modernizing world will be offered. This paper will also explore how Qu Fengzhu’s social connections influenced her thoughts and writings. Finally, Qu's family connections will be pursued.