Qiu Jin: The Female Knight of Mirror Lake

Qiu Jin from Autumn Gem: A Documentary on China’s First Feminist
Qiu Jin from "Autumn Gem: A Documentary on China’s First Feminist" | © Oregon State University / Flickr
Rachel Deason

A revolutionary, martyr, and poet “China’s Joan of Arc” is considered by many to be the country’s first feminist.

Loved by over 40s

Qiu Jin will always be remembered for her revolutionary bravery. Her actions, which ultimately cost her her life, were nothing short of extraordinary.

Qiu Jin was born in 1875 to a respected gentry family in China’s southern port city of Xiamen. Like other wealthy daughters at the time, she was raised to be a lady. Her feet were bound from a young age, she learned needlework, and she was set up with a wealthy merchant’s son who would become her husband.

Photograph of Qiu Jin from ca. 1900

Seven years after marrying, she moved with her husband and their two children to the imperial capital of Beijing. There, in the presence of other urban women, Qiu unbound her feet and struck up an interest in Chinese politics. The Qing government was failing, that much was clear to everyone. Qiu believed not only that overthrowing the foreign Qing (Manchu) and restoring native Han rule would solve all the country’s problems but also that it could not be accomplished without elevating the position of women.

Qiu soon left Beijing, abandoning both husband and children, in order to study in Japan. She enrolled in a women’s practical school where she stood apart from her classmates with her Western male attire and affinity for swordplay. She was most known, however, for her involvement in anti-Manchu secret societies, such as that led by the father of modern China, Sun Yat-sen.

If Qiu Jin was revolutionary before her time in Japan, she was exponentially more so upon her return to China in 1906. Immediately after her return, she founded the short-lived Chinese Women’s Journal, in which she spoke out against issues that she had dealt with, such as arranged marriage and foot binding.

Though Qiu felt oppressed by the family chosen for her, she found a kindred spirit in another family member, cousin Xu Xilin. Together, the two began working to unite revolutionary secret societies, which she was convinced would lead to the overthrow of the Qing. Xu was the founder of the Datong School, ostensibly a training center for physical education teachers but in reality a recruitment and training facility for young revolutionaries. Qiu took over leadership of the school in 1907 and soon learned of Xu’s fate (executed for assassinating the Manchu provincial governor of Anhui).

Qiu Jin Wax Figure

Qiu knew that her time was up as well, and instead of running, she remained in Shaoxing and was captured and beheaded. She was 32 at the time of her death.

Qiu leaves behind a legacy of revolutionary feminism, which was completely unprecedented in China. She also leaves behind a small but impressive poetry portfolio, in which is contained the refrains “My body will not allow me to mingle with the men, but my heart is far braver than that of a man.”

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.