The 'Hakka', or 'Guest People', are a specific ethnicity that migrated from northern to southern China over the past two thousand years, at least. Their origins are obscure. There are many theories and views on this matter. The Hakkas have their own language, dress, culture and martial arts. This is a brief introduction into what it means to be Hakka.
But what exactly does it mean to be 'Hakka'? There is a Hakka town in the New Territories; the inhabitants are very proud of their Hakka past. Yet they all speak Cantonese and none but the very old, can speak Hakka anymore.
They abandoned their ancestral worship over a hundred years ago and dismantled their family shrines. The Village shrine was converted into a Christian church. No one practices 'Ching Ming' (i.e. the cleaning of the ancestral graves in springtime), nor indeed 'Chung Yuen', ( i.e. feeding the ancestral spirits in autumn time). No one practices Hakka martial arts - an activity discouraged by Western missionaries as 'unChristian'. The inhabitants of this village feel secure however, in their Hakka-ness, despite no obvious outward sign that they are indeed Hakka at all. Clan importance and 'name lineage' has faded away. Why? Because many Christian Hakka clans that converted, were expelled from the Hakka name clan - making them self-sufficient and independent. So what makes these people, and others like them in the world, secure in their Hakka identity? It is the one thing that links ALL Hakka peoples together, namely a shared sense of history and at onetime culture, a culture that many still share today. The Hakka diaspora spreads the world, from India to the West Indies, the USA, Canada and even Africa.
All Hakka origination stories claim a northern Chinese heritage. And the stories say that following various events, (normally invasion), the Hakka peoples were forced (or choice) to migrate to central China and then finally to southern China, before leaving the mother land and travelling the world, via Vietnam, Indonesia (where, from the late 18th and most of the 19th century the only Hakka kingdom outside of china existed - the Lan Fang Republic), Africa, Europe and the Americas. Hakka history is written down in the 'Tsuphu' or 'Juk Bow', the terms translating as 'Clan Book'; each Hakka name has a book of its own, with an originating village somewhere in the mainland. These villages will have a stone tablet with the family name and clan poem engraved upon it. Anyone with a specific family name, is entitled to the heritage and history of that clan. The clans were originally much larger tribes, that through fragmentation due to migration and geographical separation, became the name clans other time. Many of these names trace their origins to the names of States, or ruling houses. Indeed, many Chinese names are considered Hakka, such as Chin, Li, Lim, Wong. Chu and Sung , etc, but there are many more. The Hakka language has undergone many changes of late. firstly, wherever Hakkas reside in China ( i.e. Sichuan, Guangxi, Guandong, Fujian or the north), the Hakka language (which is similar to Guanyu, or old Mandarin) has mixed with the local dialects, giving the Hakkas in that area a distinctive local accent and dialect. Hakkas in the West for instance, tend to be very proud of the area that their recent ancestors came from, be it the New Territories, Fujian or Sichuan!
Due to the hard life of the average Hakka of old, a culture emerged based upon 3 basic principles:
1) Confucian education
3) Martial arts
Generally speaking, Hakkas are tough, hard working and fight like tigers! However, due to the insistance tradition has placed upon correct behaviour, Hakka communities are vary well ordered. Hakka gungfu is collectively referred to as Hakka Kuen, or Hakka Fist. The term Hakka being Cantonese for 'Guest People' and kuen meaning fist. Hakka is what the Cantonese called the original tribal migrants from the north, and it seems to have stuck! Hakka gungfu styles include;
1) Phoenix Eye Fist
2) Praying Mantis
3) Iron Ox Praying Mantis
There are many variants. Hakka culture is rich in good food, such as 'pigs trotters and ginger in rice wine', and 'Cloud Chicken' to name but two favourites, and a multitude of soups that are as medicinal as they are tasty! Hakka people have much to be proud of.
The Original Buddhism by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD
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