the onna-bugeisha were female samurai warriors of japan. they trained & fought alongside their male counterparts - being held to the same standards and with the expectation to perform equal duties. tomoe gozen was one such warrior - not only fearsome on the battlefield, but fiercely intelligent - commanding her troops with effortless leadership and engaging in politics throughout the region. the master of her clan - the minamoto - named her as japan’s first true general. she led her army of just 300 samurai to victory against more than 2000 warriors, and in 1184 defeated (and decapitated) an infamous warrior from the musashi clan. and tomoe gozen’s reign was simply the beginning - the onna-bugeisha flourished for centuries more. not only were the women trained for combat, they were also appointed to protect villages, and opened schools around the empire in order to train other young women in the 'art of war’. in the late 18th century war broke out, between the ruling tokugawa clan and the members of the imperial court. a female battle force was created as a result - with 21-year-old nakano takeko chosen to lead them. a highly skilled fighter and a master of martial arts, she would be the new commander of the onna-bugeisha, as they joined forces with the male samurai in the battle of aizu. nakano takeko was mortally wounded after killing a number of male warriors in close combat. with her last breath she ordered her sister to behead her, so as to avoid being taken as a trophy by her enemies. her head was buried in the roots of a tree in the aizu bangemachi temple - where a monument was built in her honour. she is widely considered to be the last great female samurai warrior.
fatima and her family emigrated from [what is present-day] tunisia to the city of fez in morocco. at this point in history, fez was a bustling hub of the muslim west and was associated with rich culture and religion - bringing together both tradition and modernity. when fatima’s father died, she and her sister - mariam - found themselves with a sizeable inheritance. being both well-educated, and socially aware, the sisters decided to use their new-found wealth, in its entirety, to benefit the community. fez was attracting growing populations of muslims - many of whom were refugees - and so they set about building a larger mosque to accommodate the increasing number of worshippers. fatima then turned her ambitions towards what would become her legacy. her mosque - masjid al-quaraouiyine - not only one of the largest in north africa, also came to house what would become, according to unesco, the world’s oldest university. completed in 859CE, it has seen students matriculating for almost 1200 years - producing numerous scholars who have been fundamental in influencing the intellectual & academic history of the muslim world. it also houses one of the world’s oldest libraries, which preserves some of islam’s most valuable manuscripts. fatima’s legacy is not only one of intellect, but also one of humanitarianism and dedication to improving the lives of others. what a woman.
fatima was around waaaaay too long ago for their to be any reliable portrait of her, but i did find this beautiful image by nayzak, the original of which - along with an explanation of the inspiration behind it - you can find here
i initially felt shitty about falling so far behind with these posts but, actually, 'having' to keep posting til i do a month's worth just means i get to keep this as an ongoing thing, and we get to keep exploring amazing women together. yas.