Funü Shibao

The Magazine

Funü shibao (The women's eastern times) bore witness to seven crucial but as yet poorly understood years in modern Chinese history. Its first issue dates to June of 1911 and four issues appeared before the abdication of the Qing dynasty in early 1912. The last of the remaining seventeen issues was published in May of 1917. Funü shibao was one of the handful of gendered journals to survive the scrutiny of Yuan Shikai's censors in the early Republic and the longest lived. China's first commercial women's journal, it was disseminated in over 30 distribution centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and some ten provincial capitals.

Di Baoxian 狄葆賢 (Chuqing 楚青,1872-1941), founder of one of the most successful Shanghai daily newspapers of the period, Shibao 時報 ("The Eastern Times"), established the journal as a supplement to the newspaper. The women's journal not only benefited from the institutional solidity of Shibao's publishing house, the Shibao guan, but from its close affiliation with another of Di's publishing ventures, the Youzheng shuju 有正書局 (Youzheng book company) which produced fine art books including painting reproduction volumes and art catalogues. These commercial connections made it possible for Funü shibao to remunerate all contributors to the journal and to offer books from the Youzheng Book Company as prizes to winners of Funü shibao's ongoing essay competitions (xuanshang wen 縣賞文). While Di Baoxian founded Funü shibao, two of Shibao's editors were responsible for editing the women's journal: Chen Lengxue 陳冷血 (fl. 1906) and, most importantly, Bao Tianxiao 包天笑 (Gongyi 公毅, Langsun 郎孫, 1876-1973).

Funü shibao made important contributions to ongoing discussions about revolution, women's suffrage, and education, issues that were hotly debated in the late Qing and revisited at the time of the May Fourth Movement. Its importance lies less in its record of seismic political change, however, than in its documentation of more subterranean social, cultural, and linguistic shifts that would become defining features of the Chinese Republic.
(Joan Judge)