Ma Qioazhi (at right).
|Birth:||22 August 1892|
Luoyang City, Henan, Qing dynasty (now China)
|Death:||8 January 2007|
Luoyang City, Henan, China
|Age:||114 years, 139 days|
Ma Qiaozhi claimed to have been born on 22 August 1892 in Luoyang City (more precisely in Baiyang township, Baiyang town, Yiyang county), Henan, Qing dynasty (now China). Because her family was poor, she never went to a private school, but she's intelligent and memorized the songs that her mother or other old persons in her village sang. Some examples are "Filial Piety 's Sutra" [Chinese: 孝顺经], who supports familial harmony and the respect of elderly people, or "The King sends troups" [Chinese: 皇王发兵] and "Fortuneteller Luo Chang" [Chinese: 罗成算卦], which are popular stories.
Having grown in poverty, when Qiazhi saw beggars or poor people, she gave them drinks and some food. This kind and calm side of her personality was later credited by her relatives to be her secret of longevity.
She married in Gaotou township, and had three daughters (the oldest aged 85 in 2006) and one son (aged 66 in 2006).
Qiazhi sang some ballads with educative purposes during festivals. Because of that, some young people decided to learn singing, and they learnt the lessons hidden behind the ballads.
In 1999, a college was built in Baiyang, and Qiaozhi donated them 100 yuan that she had economized.
According to her third daughter Nie Mai [Chinese: 聂麦], since 1963, Qiaozhi has a bust of Mao Zedong, who she admires. Qiaozhi brought the bust everywhere where she moved. She prays for Zedong every time she's eating, especially during the national Day or during traditionnal feasts. She says about him: "It's the president Mao who pushed people to leave the previous country and to make a new China, and we have an happy life today. Now he's gone, but I can't forget him!" She also praised the subsistance allocation, free school, and free public food: "Now the party's politic is better, people have money in their hands, eat little breads every day, change of clothes every day, and their life improves more and more." This is the theme of a song "Small grains are abundant in Wanmin'an, the time is mild since 60 years..." [Chinese: 五谷丰登万民安，风调雨顺60年...].
At the age of 113 (114 by Chinese age counting), Qiaozhi was reported to be able to remember more of 100 ballads, and to sing them. She had at this time 73 descendants, her family counted five generations; some of them worked in town, and others in counties.
Heir of popular culture in Henan province
In September 2006, aged 114, she received the title of "exceptional heir of popular culture in Henan province" [Chinese: 河南省民间文化杰出传承人] from Henan province's comity of the Propaganda Department and Henan's Literary and Artistic Federation. A recorder recorded her when she was singing popular songs; it took a day long, and three tapes were used. Her granddaughter Li Guixiang [Chinese: 李桂香] and other women of the village are the heirs of Qiaozhi's culture.
Gaotou's Communist Party secretary Zhang Xuemin [Chinese: 张学民] said: "The old woman is honest and faithful, telling historical songs that inspires the villagers. Gambling and alcohol consommation have progressivly decreased in our village, that contributes to the apparition of new lifestyles in our village."
In October 2006, Qiaozhi was visited by journalists for the Double Ninth Festival. Each morning, she eats eggs soup after having styled her hair and washed her. She was reported to be a bit deaf. Her son Nie Suiqu [Chinese: 聂遂渠] credited her longevity to be not difficult: she eats tea and light meals, and drinks yoghurt, milk, other dairy products, and Wahaha (a Chinese brand of drinks). According to Qiaozhi, one of her uncles lived to 104, and she had a sister (aged 102 in 2006) living in Minggao, Yichuan county.
Qiaozhi died in Luoyang City (more precisely in Gaotou township, Baiyang town, Yiyang county), Henan, China on 8 January 2007 at the age of 114 years, 139 days.
Potential Longevity Records
If validated, she would have been the oldest living person in Asia at the time of her death, from the death of Ura Koyama on 5 April 2005 to her own death on 8 January 2007, being older than Yone Minagawa. She could also have been the third-oldest living person in the world, after Emiliano Mercado del Toro and Julie Winnefred Bertrand.