Thursday, July 15, 2010

The orogin of Hakka People

The Hakka people (客家人 or Hakka ngin) also known as Hakka Han, are Han Chinese who speak the Hakka language and have links with the area of the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Fujian in China. Their ancestors were often said to have arrived from what is today's central China centuries ago. In a series of migrations, the Hakkas moved, settled in their present locations in southern China, and then often migrated overseas to various countries throughout the world. They have had a significant influence on the course of Chinese and overseas Chinese history: in particular, several revolutionary, political, and military leaders have has Hakka origins.

The identity and origin of Hakka

The use of the term Hakka to describe this people is thought to be comparatively recent, dating to the Qing Dynasty (ca. 17th century).

One theory of the Hakka people's origins suggests they could be related to the Xiongnu nomadic people, who had a considerable, sometimes dominating presence in northern China from the Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 220) period to the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589), merging and assimilating within the general Han populace. However, the more commonly held view sees the Hakka as a subgroup of the Han Chinese. Their ancestors migrated southwards several times because of social unrest, upheaval, and continued invasion by foreign forces since the Jin Dynasty (265-420). Subsequent migrations occurred at the end of the Tang Dynasty in the 10th century and during the end of the Northern Song Dynasty in 1125, which saw a massive flood of refugees fleeing southward when the Jurchens captured the northern Song capital of Bianliang. A further southward migration may have continued[original research?], as then Mongols defeated the Jurchen Jin Dynasty and proceeded to take down the Southern Song, establishing the Yuan Dynasty in 1271. The precise movements of the Hakka people remain unclear during the period when the Ming Dynasty overthrew the Yuan in the 14th century and subsequently fell to the Manchus who formed the Qing Dynasty in 16th century.

During the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi (1654–1722), the coastal regions were evacuated by imperial edict for almost a decade, due to the dangers posed by the remnants of the Ming court who had fled to the island of Taiwan. When the threat was eliminated, the Kangxi Emperor issued an edict to re-populate the coastal regions. To aid the move, each family was given monetary incentives to begin their new lives; newcomers were registered as "Guest Families" (客戶, kèhù).


The existing Cantonese speaking inhabitants (Punti or 本地, "original land") of these areas were protective of their own more fertile lands, and the newcomers were pushed to the outer fringes of fertile plains, despite having migrated legitimately, or they settled in more mountainous regions to eke out a living. People could also purchase and sell land. Conflict between the two groups grew, and it is thought that "Hakka" became a term of derision used by the Punti and aimed at the newcomers. Eventually, the tension between the two groups (the Hakkas had by then been settled for several hundred years, and could not be regarded as migrants in any sense) would lead to a series of 19th century skirmishes known as the Punti-Hakka Clan Wars (土客械鬥) in the Pearl River Delta. The problem was not that the two groups spoke a different tongue. In fact the "locals" comprised different peoples speaking several mutually unintelligible tongues, as typical of the Chinese country-side all over China, but they would regard each other as "locals" or Puntis - but not the Hakkas.

The term "Punti" is not however synonymous with "Cantonese", as a Cantonese in any other part of China, say for example Beijing, would not be able to call himself a "Punti", as the puntis of that area would belong to the Beijing or Hebei people.

The term "Punti" is a Hakka word given to the Cantonese by the Hakka people. Speakers of Cantonese pronounce the Hakka word "Punti" as boon-day.

The Hakkas have a custom of buying the unwanted baby daughters of the Yue puntis in Guangdong, as Puntis favored sons over daughters; these Punti-moys (本地妹) then made brides for Hakka sons when they grew up. Hakka daughters did not enter Punti households in the same way, and there is no equivalent Hakka-mui term in the Punti vocabulary.

Over time, the new comers adopted the term "Hakka" to refer to themselves, not least due to the migratory tendencies inherent in their own culture. However, because the term also covers Hakka language-speakers, (in the same way that Punti covered several people speaking different tongues) and because the Han Chinese registered as Guest Families who migrated at the time may not have been Hakka language-speakers, and because of intermarriages among Hakka and Punti members (which showed that relation between the two were very good at times), identification as Hakka was largely a matter of self-selection. Through studies of both Cantonese and Hakka genealogies, some Hakka and Punti people with the same surnames claim the same ancestors, although their descendants strongly identify with one group to the exclusion of the other.

Other locations

The Hakka ancestors are thus but one group amongst many who migrated southwards, becoming linguistically marked by differences yet unified through cultural assonances. As of 2010[update] Hakka people live in the southern Chinese provinces, chiefly in Guangdong, south-western Fujian, southern Jiangxi, southern Hunan, Guangxi, southern Guizhou, south-eastern Sichuan, and on Hainan and Taiwan islands, where there are television news-broadcasts in the Hakka language. The Hakka dialects across these various provinces differ phonologically, but the Meixian (Meizhou) dialect of Hakka is considered[by whom?] the archetypal spoken form of the language. Migratory patterns have been established for some groups, for example in Taiwan, northern and southern migrations from corresponding provinces in China.

Hakka as Han
Although different, and also not different, in some social customs and culture (e.g. linguistic differences) from the surrounding population, the Hakkas are not a separate ethnic group: they belong to the Han Chinese majority. Historical sources shown in census statistics relate only to the general population, irrespective of particular districts, provinces, or regions. These census counts were made during imperial times. They did not distinguish what language the population spoke. Therefore they do not directly document Hakka migrations. The study by Luo Xianglin, K'o-chia Yen-chiu Tao-Liu / An Introduction to the Study of the Hakkas (Hsin-Ning & Singapore, 1933) used genealogical sources of family clans from various southern counties. With population movement, it is reasonable to assume that there is mixing among both the Hakka newcomers and the indigenous people, and between the She and Hakka.

However, according to the 2009 studies published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, compared with other Southern Hans, Hakka genes are slightly tilted towards Northern Hans. Nevertheless, the study has shown a strong common genetic relationship between all Han Chinese with only 0.3% difference

In Malaysia

Hakkas form the second largest subgroup of the ethnic Chinese population of Malaysia. During this time, Chung Keng Quee, Capitan China of Perak and Penang was founder of Taiping, leader of the Hai San, a millionaire philanthropist, an innovator in the mining of tin and was respected by both Chinese and European communities in the early colonial settlement. A well known Hakka man was Yap Ah Loy, a Kapitan in Kuala Lumpur from 1868 to 1885, where he brought significant economic contributions, founded Kuala Lumpur and also was an influential figure among the ethnic Chinese.

In East Malaysia, they form a significant part of the Bornean state of Sabah where most of the ethnic Chinese are of Hakka descent. The story goes that in the late 19th century, the British, who had just colonised Sabah (then known as British North Borneo), opted to bring in Hakka labourers from Guangdong country because the Hakka were known to be industrious workers. The first batch of Hakkas brought here landed in Kudat on April 4, 1883 under the leadership of Lo Tai Fung. In the following decades Hakka immigrants settled throughout the state, with their main population centres in Kota Kinabalu (then known as Jesselton), Sandakan, Tawau and Kudat. According to the 1991 census, there were 113000 Hakkas in the state. This constituted 57% of the total ethnic Chinese population in Sabah. The second largest Chinese subgroup were the Cantonese with only 28000 persons. This shows that Sabah is one of very few regions in the world where Hakkas clearly outnumber other Chinese subgroups. Most of the Hakkas in Sabah speak with the Huiyang accent (Hakka: Fuiyong, 惠陽). Hakka is the lingua franca among the Chinese in Sabah to such an extent that Chinese of other subgroups who migrate to Sabah from other states in Malaysia and elsewhere usually end up learning the Hakka dialect.

(source: wikipedia)

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