The Phuket News Premier League predictions The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News
The Phuket News Phuket Culture
The Phuket News Arts | Community | Culture | Dining | Education | Phuket Entertainment | Environment | Health | People | Technology | Travel | World Entertainment XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

Phuket History: The influential position of women in Phuket

Over the centuries, the comparatively small population in the central Asian peninsula region that encompasses Phuket meant women were more highly valued than in more populous India and China and therefore had more rights, autonomy and economic independence.


Colin Mackay

Sunday 7 January 2018, 10:00AM


One 19th century French visitor, Henri Mouhot, wrote that in Siam, “women enjoy greater liberty than in almost any other oriental land… in the bazaars and markets nearly all the buying and selling is done by them.”

Antonio Galvão, a Portuguese visiting the region in 1544, noted, “the more daughters a man has the richer he is.”

Family lines were often matrilineal. At weddings, as is still the case today, the bridegroom paid money to the bride’s parents, the reverse of the custom in most other parts of the world. Tome Pires, the Portuguese commentator, explained in 1515, “the man must give the women ten tahil and six mas of gold as dowry, which must always be actually in her power.”

Divorce was easy, as the 16th century commentator Antonia de Morga noted, “Husband and wife may part again at pleasure, dealing their goods and children without further circumstance and may remarry if they think good without fear of shame or punishment.”

In 1462 the rather shocked Arab navigator, Ahmad Ibn Majid, noted that Malays “do not treat divorce as a religious act.” Even under the later influences of male-dominated Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, this indigenous trait still remains strong in the peninsula. In Muslim Malaysia for example, divorce rates are still well above the norm for Islamic societies.

Siamese and Malay women traditionally ran the household and the financial affairs. Ma Huan, the scribe to Admiral Cheng Ho, wrote in the 15th century, “It is the Siamese custom that all affairs are managed by their wives. Both of the lords and the common people, if they have matters which require thought and deliberation – punishments light and heavy, all trading transactions great and small – they follow the decisions of their wives, for the mental capacity of their wives certainly exceeds that of the men.”

George Earl, the British military officer who visited Siam in the early 19th century, concurs with Cheng Ho’s earlier statement, “The women indeed may be said to compose the most important portion of the community. They transact the greater part of the mercantile business and are the principal cultivators of the soil, cheerfully undertaking the most laborious employments in the support of their families… The males affect to consider the women in the light of an inferior order of beings, but these lordly personages seldom enter upon any undertaking without first consulting their wives.”

The Scottish trader Alexander Hamilton, who visited Phuket in 1727, also agreed, “The women of Siam are the only merchants in buying goods and some of them trade very considerably”. The famous English buccaneer William Dampier in 1699 noted that in Siam all the moneychangers were women. In 1699 one Chinese visitor to peninsular Siam recorded that, “The women are very good at trade so the traders who come here all tend to marry a woman to help them trade.”

World Cup League @ BISP

Chou Ta Kuan (Zhou Daguan), another Chinese visitor to the region as early as the 13th century, said the very same, “It is the women who are skilful in commerce. Thus a Chinese who arrives down there and takes a wife profits in addition by her commercial aptitude.”

This is all rather remarkable, given that women were never educated formally. Jeremias Van Vliet, the 17th century Dutch East India Company’s Ayutthaya station chief, tells us that Siamese boys were sent to the wat (Buddhist temple) at about seven years of age to learn basic literacy and numeracy, but “girls seldom learn to read or write.” Nevertheless, women often held high positions in the peninsula.

Kings in Ayutthaya, for example, kept a female guard in their palace, as they were trusted more than men not to murder their ruler in the night. Sultan Al Mukammil, the 17th century ruler of Aceh, put a woman in charge of his large navy “for he would trust no other”.

Women were often sent out as negotiators in wars and political affairs. The Portuguese Fernao Mendes Pinto in the 16th century tells us, “The reason they give us is that… God has given more gentleness and inclination to courtesie, yea and more authority, to women than men, who are more severe.”

The kingdom of Patani, through its most powerful period in the 16th and 17th centuries, was led by powerful queens and in Phuket it was the two heroine sisters, Chan and Mook, who famously led the defence of the island in 1785.

Still today in Phuket, over half of all registered businesses are owned and run by women and Thailand also has the highest percentage of female CEOs running public companies in the world.

 

Adapted with kind permission from the book ‘A History of Phuket and the Surrounding Region’ by Colin Mackay. Available at bookshops and Amazon.com. You can order the softcover 2nd edition directly at: www.historyofphuket.com

 

 

The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:

Comments Left: Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail: (No Hotmail, Live, MSN and Outlook accepted at this time)
Security:
   => Forget password?

Be the first to comment.

The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments


Four police chiefs flunk Songkran ‘road safety test’

What about a change in road safety thinking in RTP Force? Not only a priority during Songkran and last week of the year, but 365 days of the year. ...(Read More)


Phuket Gov gives financial compensation to Songkran road death victim’s family

Is this a new policy? Giving money to families of Chinese road victims on Phuket, even when they not wearing a helmet? Hope Provincial Hall has a l...(Read More)



Alibaba move to redefine Thai-Chinese trade

With all due respect, & although Jack is probably a good bloke;The belt and road is a political scheme, to cover the growth of China’s political...(Read More)


Dengue danger: Phuket hits highest infection rate in the country

Asian tiger mosquitos have a normal roaming range of about 100 meters. Dengue fever is contracted when a mosquito bites an infected person & then ...(Read More)


Phuket Gov gives financial compensation to Songkran road death victim’s family

Another disgusting photo op of the grieving father and family receiving his prize money from the Governor. "See...Thai peepun ah goot...geep mone...(Read More)


Phuket fishing operators protest EU regulations

The EU is perfectly entitled to set conditions to ensure that the products that they purchase are sustainably harvested. Don't want to comply? Th...(Read More)


Dengue danger: Phuket hits highest infection rate in the country

Yes, but which population figures are we using here? It's well known that Phukets real population far exceeds the official figures since so many p...(Read More)


Phuket fishing operators protest EU regulations

"Couldn't agree more with your protest. Good on you! Who wants the EU anyway. Just ignore them. They think they are world law enforcer,"...(Read More)


Phuket Governor opens fire over pollution

Phuket Governor has a lot on his plate To much water flooding, or not enough water threat All beaches and beach waters polluted by law ignoring Orbo...(Read More)

The Phuket News
PHUKET NEWS
Phuket
Thailand
World
Business
Q A
Weird World
ARCHIVE
POLL
CURRENCY
WEATHER
PHUKET TIDE TABLE
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
World Entertainment
Photo Galleries
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket
Thailand
World
SURF REPORT
PREDICTIONS
The Phuket News PHUKET CLASSIFIEDS
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
SEARCH CLASSIFIEDS
POST CLASSIFIED
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
POST EVENT
The Phuket News PHUKET DIRECTORY
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
POST LISTING
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Subscribe
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
CONTESTS
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
 
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2018 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.