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

Clara Wing-chung Ho*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article traces the life of Qu Fengzhu (1860-1927), a native of Panyu, Guangdong, with special focus on her Zhijia yaoyi (Basic principles of household management). Whereas many women from elite families in late imperial China emphasized the importance of their sons studying hard in order to secure a place in the government or to live with dignity, Qu Fengzhu focused on seeking and managing wealth properly to sustain the family finances. Living in the greater Canton area loaded with heavy commercial activities and East-West interaction opportunities, as well as witnessing the political and social transition from the imperial era to the republican era, Qu Fengzhu gave very pragmatic advice to her offspring without elaborating much on high-sounding truths and principles. She set four rules for her children to follow and emphasized the importance of diligence and frugality. In a flourishing commercial world, the relatively conservative arguments on wealth management contained in Zhijia yaoyi somehow incorporates moral education. This makes its author's words carry weight and significance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-534
Number of pages27
JournalFrontiers of History in China
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • History

User-Defined Keywords

  • educated mothers
  • Guangdong
  • household instruction manual
  • Panyu
  • Qu Fengzhu
  • wealth management
  • Wu Qingshi


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