On all the rivers and canals of China a vast number of families live entirely in their boats, and the women are generally quite as efficient navigators as the men, particularly in rowing and steering. Their dress differs very little from that of the men, except about the head, on which the hair is suffered to grow freely, and is sometimes plaited behind like that of the men, as in this figure, but more frequently tied up in a knot upon the crown of the head. Among persons of this description the feet are allowed to grow to their full size, and they are almost invariably without shoes or other cover. They smoke tobacco and chew the betel and areca nut with as much avidity as the men.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Chinese, by William Alexander Published 1814