Chapter 5 China through Women’s Eyes: The Contribution of Female Missionaries in Manchuria to the Image of China at the Turn of the 19th Century

In: Scottish Missions to China

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Single female missionaries arrived in Manchuria in 1882 and constituted more than half of the mission during the whole period of the mission activities there. This chapter shows the complexity of building the female missionaries’ view on China and their contribution to the creation of the Western image of China. First, the chapter shows how missionary candidates in Scotland were first given a vision of the Orient in the Women’s Missionary College through courses on non-Western cultures, initiated by Annie Hunter Small. Second, it discusses the further development of knowledge about China during a language course in Beijing. Such a language course not only facilitated the communication between missionaries and potential Christians, but it also opened different future career possibilities. Third, the chapter discusses how female missionaries presented an image of China to Scottish Presbyterians through missionary journals. Fourth, it presents the complexity of the relations female missionaries established on the mission field. Namely it discusses the friendship of a Scottish missionary Helen B. K. Maclean and a Chinese woman called Fragrant Tree. This was a very unusual friendship, as Fragrant Tree later moved to Scotland. All of these aspects present a variety of missionaries’ perceptions and knowledge of China, and their relations with Chinese women.

Scottish Missions to China

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