[KS] pigtails

Young Kyun Oh youngoh at asu.edu
Sun Jun 16 18:59:36 EDT 2002

Morohashi explains 'tonmi' 'a derogatory term for Manchurian queue
(bianfa),' along with 'tonmihan', 'a man wearing bianfa,' without any
reference in literature.

In the historical novel, <Li Zicheng> (1606-1645)--who led the peasant
rebellion that overturned Ming--, the author Yao Xueyin (1910-) wrote "...He
[Hong Chengchou (ca. 1642)] had regarded himself from a 'country of attire
and civilaization,' despising the Manchu-style attire being that of
barbarians.  He always made slanderous remarks about Manchus dangling
pigtails [tunwei--tonmi] behind their hats and wearing sleeves in the shape
of horse hoof..."  It is not clear whether 'tunwei (tonmi)' is Hong's own or
of the writer (Yao) himself.  The Chinese text is available on line at:
http://www.angelibrary.com/real/lzc/ (Vol. 3, Chapt. 28--there may be a
Korean translation of this book.)

Another remark is found in <Tongyi yu fenlie--Zhongguo lishi de qishi
[Unification and disunion--the apocalypse from the history of China]>
(Sanlian, 1994) by Ge Jianxiong of Fudan University.  He wrote, "Right after
the Qing army crossed the river, it received a fierce resistence prompted by
lierati.  However, when Qing restored the local civil service exam, quite a
few people participated in it.  Also after the Qing emperor offered a
memorial service at the tomb of Ming Taizu, admitted that the Ming officials
and people who resisted against the Qing army were in fact loyal and
righteous, and collected the list of the Ming officials who surrenderd to
Qing in the <Erchen zhuan [Biographies of servants who served twice (or
two-hearted officials?)]>, most of the literati were already deeply moved in
tears and then exhausted their devotion and loyalty for the Great Qing
Empire.  Toward the downfall of the Qing dynasty, a great many Confucians
yet raised their voice praising the profound and far-reaching grace of the
Qing Empire, even identifying the bianfa queue, which was never a part of
the Han-style attire, to be their root.  A literatus from Jiangnan who was
quite eminent wrote "An essay refuting against 'cutting off bianfa queue',"
where he praised the dignity of the soldiers with bianfa hair-do in the
beginning of the country [Qing] and then criticized the 'Cutting-off bianfa
queue' school [group of people in the late Qing who campaigned for cutting
off bianfa tails] calling the bianfa queue 'tunwei (pigtail, it is)'...."
The Chinese text is also available electronically at
(I think there is a Korean translation of this book.)

It is not clear where we can find a reference in the literature, but it
seems that the term 'tunwei (tonmi)' was in use in China at least in the
late Qing era.  I wonder if it was also used by the late Ming literati.

That's all I can find.  I apologize for my rough translation.

Young Kyun Oh
Arizona State University

----- Original Message -----
From: "Koen De Ceuster" <koen.de.ceuster at pandora.be>
To: "Koreanstudies at koreaweb. ws" <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Sent: Sunday, June 16, 2002 1:15 AM
Subject: [KS] pigtails

> Dear List,
> Looking through Yun Ch'iho's hanmun diary, I was struck by his at times
> derogatory terminology when talking about the Chinese. In particular, his
> use of the term 'pigtails' (tonmi) was striking, as it is a term not
> unfamiliar to Western ears. He used it after visiting a public park in the
> English concession in Shanghai on 11 February 1885. The park was closed to
> Chinese ("No Dogs nor Chinese admitted"), which led Yun Ch'iho to jot down
> his thoughts on international relations, and the inability of the Chinese
> stand up to the mighty Western powers. It is in this context that he used
> the word.
> On other occasions (a.o. expressing his exasperation at Chinese political
> interference in Korea), he would use the term 'Manchu pigs' (hodon).
> My question in fact is related to the specific use of 'pigtails.' Does
> anybody on the list know where the term originated, whether it was used in

> Japan (and by whom), or was it a Western term, that seeped into his
> vocabulary through his contact with American diplomats and missionaries?
> Any useful hints are most welcome.
> Koen De Ceuster

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