Comment: In nineteenth-century China, when wives and
daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion,
the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own
secret code for communication: nu shu ("women's writing").
Some girls were paired with laotongs, "old sames," in
emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They
painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on
handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of
their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and
With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their ...
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