Ching Shih and Cai Qian Ma: Two Fierce Female Pirates of China

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It is an unhidden fact that piracy has been a trouble in the waters of several nations since ancient times. It was flourished a lot in the medieval and renaissance ages in the western world and Caribbean Sea. Interestingly, a number of female raiders were also active, who were not behind men in any of the tasks. In the western areas and the Caribbean Sea, women like Anne Bonny and Mary Read were popular. Today’s fashion of female pirate costumes is very much inspired by these female raiders.

It is a known fact that abovementioned were not the only areas where pirates were active. Several eastern countries, especially China, had also faced the threat of the fierce pirates. Similar to Caribbean Sea, some female raiders were active in the waters of China. Ching Shih and Cai Qian Ma were two popular names of the female raiders, who were popular in that Far East nation.

Ching Shih: Ching Shih was the most popular female freebooter of China, who was also the captain of a crew.  She was better known as Zheng Yi Sao, which means “wife of Zheng Yi”. She was actually a prostitute, who married to a notorious pirate Zheng Yi on the condition that he would share his power with her. After the death of her husband, she took command of the crew. Moreover, she was also idealistic in some important things. For instance, she made the pirate code that if someone would rape the female prisoner, he would be beheaded, and his head would be dumped in the ocean. Besides, if some raider would loot a town, which had already paid tribute (tax given to pirates by some people), then also he would be beheaded. Moreover, if some pretty female captive was purchased by some crew member, then it would be necessary for him to marry her; otherwise he would be beheaded. The rule made by her for the crew was that if someone would steal from the treasure then also he would face the same treatment. Besides, she also proved herself equal to men in combat as well as in leading the forces. She defeated the king’s army of Qing Dynasty, plus she captured 63 of his ships and forced many of the men to join her crew. Moreover, king hired Portuguese and British navies to combat Ching Shih’s crew, but she successfully defeated these two superpowers of that era. But, she did not remain raider throughout her life. King offered amnesty to all the raiders, which Ching accepted for her and her crew members. She opened a gambling den and brothel and remarried to the first mate of her first husband. She died a natural death in the age of 69 in the year 1844, unlike many other pirates.

Cai Qian Ma: Similar to Ching Shih, Cai Qian Ma was also the wife of a pirate named Cai Qian. She was also a prostitute and was sold to Cai Qian by a barber for a large sum of money. She also proved to be cunning and a fierce pirate like her husband. It is said that she also commanded her own vessel, as well as led the crew of the women warriors in Chinese pirate clothing. In the year 1804, she faced a battle with Qing navy off Taiwan, in which she died.

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