To celebrate International Women’s Day I thought it would be good to talk about Bad-Ass Women Guerilla Bosses in history, from different countries.
So I recently started watching the Age of Samurai on Netflix, and on episode 3 they mentioned a Ninja/ Shinobi called Mochizuki Chiyome. It reminded me of two characters with similar names in Naruto and Fate/Grand Order. I was intrigued, because I didn’t realise that these characters are based on a real historical figure. Looking into it, was fascinating, it turned out that she was a proper Guerilla War master. Then I remembered two other women I was aware of who fought Guerilla warfare: Cut Nyak Dien (Aceh, Indonesia) and Nanny of Maroon (Jamaica).
Mochizuki Chiyome 望月 千代女
Japanese poet and noblewoman of the 16th century. She created an all-female group of ninja (Shinobi) agents, Kunoichi. Many people thought that she was simply helping abandoned women by giving them a new life, but in reality, they were trained to become information gatherers and verifiers, seductresses, messengers, and, when necessary, assassins.
According to the Age of Samurai, she was a part of a Shinobi group that relies upon guerilla in winning their wars. Also apparently because it was such a strong patriarchal society, women were not considered threats, opening a door for Mochizuki Chiyome’s female ninjas to successfully disrupt operations without ever being suspected.
In pop-culture I love the portrayal of her on Naruto the most.
Because she treats everyone equally, Chiyome has very little arrogance within her. While she is confident in her own abilities, she will never belittle anybody else on their own skills and capabilitiesNaruto Fanon
Because I can’t find any historical image of these female ninjas( I guess they were truly covert), here is one of a female Samurai though called Onu-Bugeisha. They look pretty fierce and amazing too.
Cut Nyak Dhien
Her name reads Choot Nyak Deen. Born in 1848 she fought guerilla wars against the Dutch for 25 years in the now Indonesian province of Aceh at the top of the island of Sumatra. The war started on 26 March 1873 what was called the Aceh War or The Dutch War or what the Dutch ( I am assuming the dutch view of it) calls: the Infidel War. Which in itself ironic as at the time quite a lot of people have a religion, Islam.
Why did the Dutch actually wage the war? they wanted to have a monopoly over Aceh’s Black Pepper and Oil.
Whilst I don’t like to describe heroes using their husbands, I thought Cut Nyak Dhiens one is worth telling. Because she only accepted her husband hand in marriage only in on the condition that she can fight in the war too. Yass Kween! She continued to lead the army even after the death of her husband Teuku Umar. And when she got caught by the Dutch because she got ill, her daughter, Cut Gambang continued the fight.
The image below is what people have been using as depiction of Cut Nyak Dhien including on Indonesian Money, but some argued that this is a made up picture from an old picture of another women from Aceh.
Here is the only picture of her that was documented in the Leiden University Collection. Interestingly this picture is labeled in Dutch: The Wife of Teuku Umar in the middle, captured by some Dutch lieutenant
Nanny of the Maroons
Nanny of the Maroons led a community of formerly enslaved Africans called the Windward Maroons in the 18th Century. Her story is so great that it seems mythical to some people. Under the leadership of Nanny, the Windward Maroons fought a guerrilla war over 6 years against the British in Jamaica in what became known as the First Maroon War.
Similar to Mochizuki Chiyome, some seem to debate and doubt what actually happened, sources recount the Nanny in “folklore or is said to”. Some people also believed that her success is due to voodoo. But I want to believe that Nanny definitely was a skilled guerilla master, teaching her army the art of camouflage, long-distance communications and stealthy fires. Her army pioneered the use of drilled-cow-horn as a method of signaling to others when enemy are approaching, something that the British didn’t know.
I love this depiction of Queen Nanny of the Maroons by artist Msdre.
What do you think of these amazing women?As you can see even with the technology of finding stories, history is still unclear abou them. I am sure there are so many more bad-ass women from history but often they are overwritten, or not even written in or they become folklore, set aside. Let me know who yours is, I’d love to learn about them.