Monday, January 21, 2013

Hakka People (客家人)

I did not know my mother’s side was classified as Hakka people. I never heard this word in my whole life until now. Northern Han Chinese had been moving south. Some of these migrants did not want to reveal from where they came. Under Chinese laws back then, a crime committed by one person was punishable by death upon the clan of that person and up to three generations and 9th cousins. Since the locals did not know where the migrants were from, they referred to them as ‘guest families’ (locally called “Hakka”) and ended up staying over 1,500 years. My mother’s ancestors descended from Shangguan Yi, the Shangguan migrated south in the late 618-907 Tang Dynasty. 大南迁.
     The early Hakka ancestors who traveled from northern China entered Fujian first, then through Tingjiang (Ting river), they traveled to Guangdong and other parts of China and overseas. In this way, the Tingjiang River is also regarded as the Hakka's Mother River. My mother’s ancestors settled in Dingzhou Fu. I was trying to visit for the first time over 1,000 years later. By looking into Dingzhou, which was the capital of the Hakka people, there were towns named after the Guan. Guan/Shangguan is one of the big family names in this area and they were associated with a large family shrine. I realized now that my mother’s side of the family was Hakka (客家人).
The Wuyi Mountains ( 武夷山)
Changting Village, called Tingzhou Fu in ancient times, is located on the border of the Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces.
     The Hakka speak the Hakka dialect in Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Fujian. Many of the Hakkas were affiliated with the "royal bloods." They spoke the Royal Official language; although there were many dialects, the Hakka language was very likely the official language of that dynasty when they left the North and they likely had the duty of passing on the language from generation to generation. The phrase “能卖祖宗田,不卖祖宗言,” means one can sell one’s ancestors’ land, but never sell one’s ancestors’ language. The one tradition we kept was calling my grandmother and grandfather special, different names from others in our generation. All of my friends and classmates were confused as to why and we also had no idea why; my mother and grandfather did not know why they called their mother and father different names from everyone else. They told us this tradition was passed down from long ago. That was just the way it had always been. Eventually, our children stopped calling elders by these names and as a result, our ancestors’ language was gone completely in the next generation. On top of that, we lost our land and family-owned business.
     The Hakka people were extremely diligent in keeping their clan/family genealogy records, hoping they could one day go back to the Royal Palace in Northern China. No other Chinese groups kept an in-depth clan/family genealogy as complete as the Hakkas. My father’s side never left far from their roots; he had only a seven-generation chart without any other information. My mom's Guans had 4 books fully covering 18 generations, including 9 generations in Fujian and 9 in Sichuan.
     The Hakkas came into areas with pre-existing natives and very little agricultural land remaining. As a result, they had to go to the mountains where the land was not fertile. The Hakka mountain songs expressed their struggle to settle where no one had lived before. Hakka folk-art is still popular today, a strong reminder of its folk origin. The Tinzhou Wine Festival (100 Pot Feast 汀州百壶[福]祭) is still held every February to wake up their god by shaking the carriage with the god inside and offering wine to him, thereby ensuring a good harvest in May. By June, there would be another festival to celebrate the harvest and give thanks to the god. The interesting part of this wine celebration was the wine was not poured into a cup first, but shared from usually 100 big wine pots, plus many food plates on a long table on the street. Everyone picked food from the plates with their hands and without personal seats or plates. Everyone was welcome, old and young, friends or passersby … everyone drank out of the 100 pots. I have to say that I am not comfortable sharing drinks from the same wine pots with strangers and picking up food from the same plates by hand.
     The Hakka were used to the wheat in the north, rarely wheat in the south. They missed their dumplings, which were made by white flour-based shells filled with meat, a typical northern food for Chinese New Years today. Being creative, the Hakka used tofu sliced as shells filled with meat, then folded into dumplings. From far away, they really looked like dumplings.
How to make Tofu dumplings 
      The Hakka had a tradition of having a second burial for their dead, similar to the earlier Jewish tradition. They opened up their grave again after a few years, collected their bones, put them into a ceramic jar, and reburied them again a few years later. If they had to move again, they would just dig up the jar and carry their ancestors with them. They believed that their ancestors would help them on the way to new places, and help them re-establish at those new places.
     Hakka villages aggregated loosely around clanship, maintaining blood-ties to families (often identified through genealogy). Many Hakka men joined the military or public service due to land shortages. The Hakka community had a wide variety of martial arts, such as Hakka Kun, Southern Praying Manti, Bak Mei, and Dragon Kung Fu. Public servants would have to pass the government’s test. Therefore, the Hakka culturally emphasized education.
      There were three types of Hakka dwellings. The Phoenix house 五鳳樓, Tulou 土樓 and Flat house depended on different stages of Hakka migration. When the first Hakkas moved down to Fujian, they were imperial court officials and could afford to build the Phoenix houses, which were similar to those of the imperial court. The Hakkas moved down south with the blessings and protection of the emperor. Later on, they came without any blessing of the emperor. The locals often attacked them. For protection, the Tulou houses were built as defensive structures to fend off the locals. Hundreds of years later, the Hakkas were more or less integrated with the locals. There was less need for protection and defense. Flat houses also appeared. Although these also appeared in the early dwellings of lower class workers, such as servants and lower rank officials, they accompanied the nobilities in their southward migration.

Guan Juting standing in front of Yongding Tulou (永定土楼) built in 1912, one of the World Heritage Sites
Tulou (土樓) literally means earthen structures. US satellites saw hundreds of them from space and thought they were missile sites; at the time, Nixon had to scramble to find some experts on China to find out if it this was true. To his relief, he found out that they had been there for hundreds of years. The Tulou were round, square, and rectangular, designed as a combined large fortress and multi-apartment building complex. Some houses had two to three circles of surrounding structures, which typically had only one main entrance, with no windows at the ground level. Each floor served a different function: the first floor contained a well and livestock, the second food was for storage, and the third and higher floors contained living spaces. The Tulou were built to defend against attack from bandits, marauders, and other enemies during the Punti-Hakka Clan Wars (土客械鬥).
      Genetic analyses revealed that Hakka had 80.2% of the genetic makeup of the Northern Han. The Hakkas had a custom of buying the unwanted baby daughters of the Yue Puntis (local Cantonese) in Guangdong, as the Puntis favored sons over daughters. The Punti-mei (native girls) then became brides for Hakka sons when they grew up. Thus, the Yue Punti genes entered Hakka populations. It did not go other way around; the Hakka kept all of their babies. The Hakka people are well known for defending their cultural heritage. Many were willing to take risks and seek new opportunities elsewhere to establish themselves. This migratory tradition resulted in the distribution of the Hakka in the most remote parts of the world. Saving China's abandoned Tulou homes   
     When Hakkas settled in different parts of China or migrated overseas to various countries throughout the world, they kept their traditions wherever they went and were closely bound to each other. The Hakka people have had a significant influence on the Chinese and world history. Han Suyin (韩素音), (pen name Elizabeth Comber) was a Chinese-born Eurasian. Her father was a Belgian Hakka engineer and her mother was a Flemish Belgian. She graduated with a MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery) with honors from London’s Royal Free Hospital in 1944. She later practiced medicine at the Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong. In addition, she is a well-known writer; her best known work is "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing." It is remembered a popular song by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. The song (1955) won its own “Best Song” academy award. From 1967 to 1973, it was the theme song to a soap opera based on a movie, both made with the same name.
     Many leaders such as Sun Yatsen (孙中山) and his wife Soong Ching-ling (宋庆龄)’s family, Taiwan Presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登辉), Chen Shui-bian (陈水扁), Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and China’s Deng Xiaoping (邓小平) were all members of the Hakka people. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra (丘达新), and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra (英拉), the Prime Minister of Thailand today were also Hakkas. Their great-grandfather, Seng Sae Khu or Khu Chun Seng (Thai: เส็งแซ่คู; Chinese: 丘春盛), was also the Prime Minister in Thailand. Lanfang Republic (present Western Kalimantan, now part of Indonesia) was established by Luo Fangbo 罗芳伯 (1738-1778) and was also a descendant of the Hakkas. More locally, Patrick Christopher Chung (鍾家庭), an American football safety for the New England Patriots of the National Football League is half-Hakka.
6 presidents 1 Prime Minister in Southeast Asia from Fujian, where 90% are Hakka.
Tony Tan Keng Yam ( born 7 February 1940 陈庆炎/陳慶炎) is a Singaporean politician who was the seventh President of Singapore, holding office from 2011 to 2017.
Wee Kim Wee (4 November 1915-2 May 2005 黄金辉/黃金輝) was a Singaporean politician who served as the fourth President of Singapore.
Abdurrahman Wahid (born Abdurrahman ad-Dakhil 7 September 1940-30 December 2009) was an Indonesian Muslim religious and political leader who served as the President of Indonesia from 1999 to 2001.
Ong Teng Cheong (22 January 1936-8 February 2002 王鼎昌) was a Singaporean politician and businessman who was President of Singapore from 1993 to 1999.
Maria Corazon "Cory" Cojuangco Aquino (January 25, 1933-August 1, 2009) was a Filipina politician who served as the 11th President of the Philippines and the first woman to hold that office. She was the first democratically-elected president since Diosdado Macapagal left office in 1965 and the first female president in Asia.
Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Cojuangco Aquino III (born February 8, 1960) was a Filipino politician who served as the 15th President of the Philippines from 2010 until 2016.
Goh Chok Tong (born1941 吴作栋) is a Singaporean politician. He became Singapore's second Prime Minister on 28 November 1990.
Former NBC Journalist/Executive Paula Madison Finds her Hakka Root.
Hakka Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), father of Singapore
Meet the Press (1967): Interview with Lee Kuan Yew on the Vietnam War and the problems of Southeast Asia
One Man's View of the World by Lee Kuan Yew (91 years old)
    Hong Xiuquan (洪秀全) was a controversial figure outside of China, although not so much in China. He was remembered as one of many who were brave to fight for what was right. The estimates of his army were around 500,000, most Hakka. The Qing government eventually crushed the rebellion with the aid of French and British forces.  20 million people died, mainly civilians. They called themselves the Heavenly Kingdom (太平天囯). His poem on "Executing the Evil and Preserving the Righteous" 《斬邪留正詩》:
In my hand I wield the Universe and the power to attack and kill,
I slay the evil, preserve the righteous, and relieve the people's suffering.
My eyes see through beyond the west, the north, the rivers, and the mountains,
My voice shakes the east, the south, the Sun, and the Moon.
The glorious sword of authority was given by the Lord,
Poems and books are evidences that praise Yahweh in front of Him.
Taiping [Perfect Peace] unifies the World of Light,
The domineering air will be joyous for myriads of thousand years.
   Shi Dakai (1831-1863) (石达开/石達開) was born into a moderately wealthy farmer's family of half-Hakka and half-Zhuang parentage. He became known as the Lord of Five Thousand Years and was one of the most important leaders in the Taiping Rebellion and a poet.  At age nineteen, he was commander of his own army under Hong Xiuquan.
    . After losing the Taiping Rebellion, Shi negotiated with the Qing to spare his 4000 men's lives if he turned himself in. He was executed by slow slicing in my hometown of Chengdu. His enemies recorded the entire torturous execution. Shi did not flinch and never once cried out in pain. He was 32 years old. The Qing did not keep their promise and still executed 2000 of Shi's men. He left behind a son and his wife Xiong (熊氏) remarried. Shi's sister adopted his son as her own and changed his last name from Shi to her husband's name Hu.  Today Shi's hometown Guangxi (广西) still has many of his descendents.太平天国150周年:天京沦陷女性集体自焚
Shi was executed by slow slicing in my hometown of Chengdu by the Qing.

Shi DaKai is remembered in my hometown of Chengdu
There were another story said that Han Bao Ying (韩宝英), who was an adopted daughter from Shi Dakai (石达开), saved Si by asking her husband who looked like Si to surrendered to the Qing army.
     Han Bao Ying's parents were killed by the bandits while she was hiding in the bushes. When Si Da Ke's army was passing by, she asked him to help her get rid of local bandits and Si did that for her.  Since she became an orphan, she wanted to marry Si. Si refused her and adopted her as his fourth daughter. 
     Han found a husband in Si's army who looked just like Si and married him. When Si's army entered Sichuan, Han warned Si of the complications, he was losing ground fighting against the Qing army and eventually was surrounded by the Qing army.  Si looked up at the sky and said "此天亡我也" which means Heaven wants me to fail," then used his own sword to stab himself.  Han tried to stop him but Si still bled too much and became unconscious. Qing posted a sign "投诚免死" which meant voiding death, surrender. Han asked her husband to dress up like Si and went ahead to surrender, while she and Si hid in a cave.  
     Some said Han and Si both went to Mount Ermei and become a nun and monk.  Many years later, a monk at Mount Ermei said "翼王乃维摩的化身,韩宝英则是散花天女也" which meant Si was a reincarnation of Vimalakirti Sutra and Han was an angel from the Haven. Han Bao Ying comic books and plays were made later which called Han Bao Ying (韩宝英).
Folk Song of Hennan (河南民歌), most Hakka's Roots
Hakka Song (客家本色)
Hakka Mountain Song


Former NBC Journalist/Executive Paula Madison Finds her Hakka Root.

The Secret Guan Fortress (神秘的官家围楼).

Gushi County Ancestral Home of the People of Fujian and Taiwan Part 1- Founder of Zhangzhou
Gushi County Ancestral Home of the People of Fujian and Taiwan Part 2- Ancestor of people of Fujian
Gushi County Ancestral Home of the People of Fujian and Taiwan Part 3- Crossing the Taiwan Strait
A Tribute to the Hakka People百家讲坛《客家人》
Hakka Chinese Jamaican

武夷山 客家记忆