Ma Jie (2015-2016)

Ma Jies were a wave of female migrants, largely from China’s Guangdong province, who worked as domestic servants in Singaporean households from the 1930s to the 1970s. Defying patriarchal norms, these women were often the family breadwinners. Characterised by their independence and life-long commitment to their work, many never married and some even took a vow of celibacy, known as sor hei, a combing ceremony. By the time of documentation, many had passed away or had returned to their village in China, but several were living out their twilight years in rental apartments in Singapore’s Chinatown.