Hoping to blossom (one day) into a flower,
Every bud sits, holding its soul in its fist.
Between the fear of the fowler and (approaching) autumn,
The bulbul’s life hangs by a thread.
Thy sly glance is more murderous than arrow or sword;
It has shed the blood of many lover.
How can I liken a candle to thy (glowing) cheek?
The candle is blind with the fat in its eyes.
How can Chanda be dry lipped. O Saqi of the heavenly wine!
She has drained the cup of thy love.
“Hoping to blossom (one day) into a flower”
Mah Laqa Bai (1768-1824)
Translated by Syed Sirajuddin, Women Writing in India: 600 BC to the Present
Mah Laqa Bai Chanda (1768-1824)
Art by Henrico Leorne (tumblr)
Mah Laqa Bai was a tawaif (courtesan) and a trusted adviser to the Nizam of Hyderabad. She was appointed to the omarah (highest nobility) and frequently consulted with the local rulers on government matters.
Tawaifs were accomplished artists and Mah Laqa Bai is best known as the first significant female poet to write in Urdu. In 1799, she gave a manuscript entitled Diwan e Chanda to a British captain. Today this manuscript is housed in the British Museum. Gulzar-e-Mahlaqa (Mahlaqa’s flowers), a book of 39 Ghazals, was published soon after her death.
A patron of the arts, Mah Laqa Bai endowed several shrines during her lifetime. After her death, her wealth was distributed to homeless women. Mah Laqa Bai’s tomb in Hyderabad was restored in 2011.
Eliza Johnson stayed out of the public eye as First Lady to President Johnson, partly due to Mary Lincoln’s poor public opinion and partly due to grief and illness. But “her invisibility should not be taken for inactivity.” When Eliza and Andrew first met in their teens, Eliza tutored him and helped him overcome his lack of formal education. In their White House years, “she clipped articles she thought he would see, shrewdly separating the good news which she gave at the end of each day, from the bad, which he got the next morning. One historian concluded that Andrew Johnson “may have consulted his wife and daughters more than he did any fellow statesman.”
Facts from First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama by Betty Boyd Caroli. C-SPAN is exploring the influence of First Ladies in its new series
Image: Mrs. Andrew Johnson engraved by J.C. Buttre, published 1883. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Madre Laura named Colombia’s first saint - MiamiHerald.com -
In her lifetime, Laura Montoya’s stubborn determination to help Colombia’s indigenous people brought the reproach of society, the political elite and the church, which viewed her work with suspicion and accused her of being unstable.
Representative Yvonne Brathwaite Burke leaves Queen of Angels hospital with her 6-day-old daughter Autumn Roxann. Yvonne was the first member of Congress to give birth while in office.
Woman weaving in Lachung, Sikkim.
Qin Liangyu (1574-1646)
Art by Sertan Saral (tumblr)
From an early age, Liangy learned martial arts, horseback riding, and archery. At the age of 20, she married a local Sichuan commander named Ma Qiancheng. Together they maintained the peace in an area rife with warlords and insurrections.
Qiancheng died in 1613 and Liangyu took over his position. In 1620, the Nvzhen ethnic minority declared independence from the Ming Dynasty. Liangy led an army to defeat them, selling her own belonging to fund the campaign. Ten years later the Manchu threatened Beijing. Liangy once again led an army supported by her own funds and defeated the insurgents. The Chongzhen Emperor commemorated her victory with commissioned poetry.
The Ming Dynasty fell in 1644. Amid the turmoil, Liangy’s lands remained relative calm and agriculturally productive. She is believed to have helped 100,000 refugees find homes in Shizhu.
An active leader until her death at age 75, Liangy was named Grand Protector of the Crowned Prince by the Southern Ming Emperor She remains one of the highest ranking female warriors in Chinese history.
Qin Liangyu is not the real Mulan. Mulan is fictional character who predates Liangyu by several hundred years.
Happy Mother’s Day weekend!
Lady Bird Johnson with daughters Lynda and Luci, and their husbands. (L-R) Charles Robb, Lynda Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, Luci Johnson Nugent (holding the dog Yuki), Patrick Nugent. 9/30/67.
-from the LBJ Library
More — First Ladies as mothers and daughters
From left Sherri Mishikawa, 4, Janet Hirata, 5, and Elizabeth Dobashi, 7, listen to Aileen Tanimoto, 10, play koto, a traditional Japanese instrument during celebration of Japanese Girls Day at Robert Hill School… It was the school’s first observance of Japanese Girls Day patterned after Japan’s traditional festival of the Doll. The idea of the holiday was projected by the principal, Mrs. Isabelle Ames, who spent three years in Japan as a child.
Los Angeles Times
March 4, 1964
Later they are alleged and represented to have accepted VD as the lot of women and apparently rumoured to conduct abuse of the female body not of a primary nature…It would not be possible to employ females in higher positios who are alleged and represented to follow unhealthy private life practices as a rule and to insult and intrigue and conspire against the women of other sovereign states, in which a minority of theirs is not excluded and which also appears exists elsewhere across the region. Moreover, there may be a basic capacity difference for grounded reasons as can be seen in studies publicly available between the men and women. —
“Women in Mongolia” Wikipedia article
If you know anything about women in Mongolia, this article could use some serious help.
Cantonese Pirate Ching Shih/Cheng I Sao/Shih Yang (1775–1844)
Art by Naomi Ward (blog, tumblr)
The early details of Ching Shih’s life are unclear, but she is believed to be a former sex worker captured by pirates. In 1801, she married the pirate captain Zheng Yi and bore two sons. Ching Shih was a full participant in the fleet as Chinese pirate bands were family affairs including women and children. In 1807, Zheng Yi was killed in Vietnam and Ching Shih took control of the fleet, a bold move for a woman of the time. She built a coalition with her husband’s nephew and cousin, appointing his adopted son Chang Pao as her second in command.
Under Ching Shih’s leadership, the Red Flag Fleet became the most powerful pirate band in Asia. They expanded from pillaging into protection schemes. Ching Shih devised a new code of laws for pirates. Complete obedience was required. Disobedience led to beheading. Female captives deemed unattractive were returned to shore, but attractive women could join the fleet as wives. However, consent and fidelity were not optional. Both rape and adultery were punishable by death.
The Red Flag Fleet thrived under Ching Shih’s command, successfully evading Chinese, British, and Portuguese opponents. In 1810, the Chinese government offered the pirates amnesty and Ching Shih retired a rich woman. She ran a gambling house with her second husband Chang Pao until her death in 1844 at the age of 69.
On this day in LIFE — May 6, 1966: Jackie in Spain
See more photos of Jackie here.