Northern Hakka Gongfu (Email 29.4.2017)

00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Email from WL – 24.4.2017

Dear Adrian,
The body conditioning clips led to footage on the 8 Step Praying Mantis, which is a northern style, but the form looked something like a version of Hakka mantis. I’ll try to find the clips and send the links to you.
Kind regards,
Waiman

Email to WL – 29.4.2017:

Thanks Waiman! There’s probably alot of this type of stuff on Youku – I will check when I get the time. Of course, the other issue is that of ‘limited’ transmissions to the West – and some Westerners assuming that their incomplete knowledge is in fact ‘complete’. This is why the Western imagination has been fired by certain lineages of Hakka Southern Praying Mantis, simply because these are the styles that taught Westerners when teaching outsiders was frowned upon. Consequently, the broader reality of Hakka martial arts particularly, (and Chinese martial arts generally), was obscured (and continues to be ‘hidden’ in many ways from the Western view), leaving Western magazines and journals to print authoritative stories about this or that style being the ‘legitimate’ or the ‘superior’ version, and all others being ‘inferior’, or ‘made-up’. Of course, from the early 1950’s to the early 1980’s, the Western debate on Chinese martial arts evolved around the US colony of Taiwan, and the British colony of Hong Kong – a narrative that excluded Mainland China (with Eurocentric racist tales of deficiency and degeneration) and ignored one fifth of humanity. In reality, the Qing forces (aided and abetted by the Western Church and colonial powers) during the middle 19th century, destroyed much of the Northern Hakka martial culture in Guangdong province – and Chiang Kai-Shek’s invading forces of Taiwan in the late 1940’s, massacred tens of thousand the of resisting Hakka people and their Northern martial arts on the island (not to forget the indigenous Taiwanese victims).
Once, I sat with Master Chan’s widow, and she said that our Hakka ‘Banana Village’ in Sai Kung had been established for 9 generations – with Master Chan being the 10th generation. We think that our Hakka Chan clan migrated Southward with the retreating Ming Dynasty as it started to lose ground to the invading Jurchen (i.e. ‘Manchurians’), before settling on a remote coastal area a long way from Beijing. Whereas other Hakka started to grow sustainable forests for charcoal production in the area, the Chan clan took-up banana growing. These changes signified a shift from rice production to other forms of livelihood – and this is when the distinct ‘Iron Ox Cultivates Land’ came into being as an activity separate from everyday farming in the paddy fields (but premised upon it), as a distinctive aspect of Hakka gongfu practice. In the old days, working in the fields was so arduous that extra body-conditioning was not required for martial arts training. The agricultural effort produced a strong and yet relaxed body, with a mind that was both calm and alert. There was also the principle at work of being one with the ox (showing kindness to animals), and oneness with nature (the Daoist element of Hakka living). Incidently, there are rumours that Mao Zedong was a Hakka – and I once read a text he wrote calling upon peasant people not to ‘kill’ their oxen for the rich people to consume as ‘meat’. He said the ox was far more important to ordinary people as a living tractor that cultivated the land to grow rice and consequently feed millions. Although many Hakka people eat meat, I have always been aware of a kindness to animals that runs through the centre of the Hakka culture. On the other hand, many Hakka are devout Buddhists and do not eat meat. Master Xu’s Hakka Triple Unity Boxing has movements that are exactly the same as our ‘Ch’an Dao’ style and I note that parts of his system originated in Shandong province. When I wrote my Hakka martial arts article, I had communicated with a number of Mainland Hakka gongfu masters who all told me the same story – namely that their arts originated in Northern China. This is exactly what Master Chan had told me, and it seems to be a Western myth encouraged by ignorance of the subject matter, that suggests that Hakka martial arts originated in the South.
All Best Wishes
Adrian

Post-Modern Hakka (Letter 21.6.2016)

images (16)

Letter (email) to WL 21.6.2016

I suppose that ‘change’ has always been a part of the formulation of Hakka identity, with various stages of cultural adaptation being chosen (by habit) as being representative of Hakka culture.  I suspect that this is why Hakka people have often been very revolutionary or innovative, and at the fore-front of many historical events (including China’s Revolutions) of the last 500 years or so.  In the post-modern world, Hakka culture is changing again (as is all culture).  However, of course, distinct ‘Hakka’ cultural traits (developed in the distant past), will survive and bubble to the surface of multicultural societies, and probably ‘strengthen’ rather than ‘weaken’ Hakka identity, although changes will occur without question.  I find it interesting how traditionally minded Hakka people (as well as Chinese people in general), come to terms with modernity and post-modernity.  This is to say, how an inherently ‘conservative’ and ‘insular’ culture comes to terms with the requirement to be both permanently ‘liberal’ and ‘open’.  Of course, as it is happening all around us, we know that it is inevitable.  Interestingly, when we visited the ancestral village in 1999 (Sai Kung), its traditional life was more or less over, or at least beating a hasty retreat!  Many of the houses on the sides of the hill had been abandoned and the six people still left had moved into a ‘modern’ house on the top of the hill, which was of contemporary design with running water and an indoor toilet (which the villagers were very proud of).  The Head of the Clan was then an old woman of 80 years old.  the modern house had shrines at floor level for the god of the earth, and the Chan Name Temple was kept pristinely ‘clean’, but all else was slowly falling apart, or being consumed by vegetation, etc.  I noticed then that even the traditional Hakka clothing was nolonger worn, and the language spoken was a mixture of Hakka and Cantonese (with the occasional English word).  Those who have left this village have spread all-over the world and changed in the new environments they have encountered, and yet there is something distinctly ‘Hakka’ that holds it all together!

Blond Hakka?

download (5)

(This is a speculative research email to WL dated 29.4.2016 – about the possible origins, and cultural traits of the Hakka-Chinese people.  This deals with possible ‘European’ and/or ‘Caucasian’ DNA influences or cultural links.  This is part of a general investigation into Hakka origins that will also be developed to consider possible African influences in early China.  Of course, I fully acknowledge that those mummies in Takla Makan that look Western might well be ‘Middle Eastern’ in origin.)  ACW 28.4.2016

When I was in Turkey (in the late 1990’s) – I met Chinese Uighar people.  My Hakka friend (from Hong Kong) immediately said that they did not look ‘Chinese’ (at this point I was also a little confused, as we had been told that there was a ‘Chinese restaurant’ in the area), The Uighar people explained that they were ‘Chinese’, but from a different area (Xinjiang) and that their Chinese restaurant served ‘Uighar’ food.  These Uighar people (if memory serves me right) had dark complexions (that reminded me of many of my ‘Tamil’ friends in the UK), and had features that looked ‘East Indian’.  It is interesting to consider that many East Indians share a common Y-DNA with many Europeans (R1A1) – despite the rather obvious historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious differences.  This association did not arise with the Western colonial presence in India (although there was most definitely ‘mixing’ and ‘off-spring’ despite the official Western policy of ‘racism’, and control through division), but is a common Y-DNA connection dating much further back in evolutionary history.  In other words, Western Y-DNA in India does not imply that Europeans founded Indian culture, or were responsible for its development – despite the distant Y-DNA connection.  In fact, as you already know, Western civilisation, when compared to the Sumerian, Egyptian, Indian and Chinese, developed quite late, if its origins are taken from Ancient and Classical Greece.  The Buddha ‘reformed’ Brahmanism in India (introducing ‘logic’ and ‘reason’ to the world) BEFORE Socrates was born!  If anything, I suspect ‘Indian’ culture and thinking more than likely was the creative ‘spark’ that led to the great achievements of the Greek philosophers that we so much admire!

With regard to the Takla Makan mummies – the pictures look stunningly ‘European’.  However, China has never released any DNA studies about them (as far as I know), but I once saw a Western documentary that suggested a group of Northern Europeans arrived in China around 2000 years ago.  This narrative suggested that they mixed with local Chinese, and that their DNA and physical shape altered over-time, until their descendants looked completely ‘Chinese’ (probably over a 500 year period).  This documentary then revealed that certain Western academics took (stole?) small hair samples from some of the mummies – and that consequently DNA tests were carried-out in Italy.  The documentary was expecting a Northern European result – but this was not the case.  It turned-out that the DNA (probably both ‘male’ and ‘female’) was from Central Asia and had no ‘Northern European’ connection.  I think that the mummification process may well have ‘lightened’ the complexion of people (through desiccation) who probably looked more ‘Indian’ when alive.  However, although there was no ‘direct’ connection with Europe, many of the Takla Makan mummies do possess what I would call ‘Caucasian’ features (as do many Indians). I would qualify this by stating that this casual observation has no suggestion of ‘Europeans’ or ‘European culture’ in early China – but only a phenotypal connection.  These non-Chinese people did exist in China, and did ‘integrate’ into Chinese culture.  It is not beyond the realms of possibility that these people may have been an ingredient in early Hakka cultural development.

A point I must clarify at this juncture, is that Europe had cultures before the rise of the Greco-Roman monolith (as you know) that now defines ‘Europe’.  These indigenous entities (that constructed the many ancient stone circles and other structures throughout Europe) were collectively (and derogatorily) termed ‘Keltos’ (i.e. ‘non-Greek’) by the Greeks (and ‘Gaelic’ by the later Romans).  This blanket term does not convey the apparent diversity, or ingenuity of these European peoples who probably existed as distinct but related ‘tribes’.  I think that given the right circumstances, any group of human-beings can migrate anywhere if they need or have to do it.  After-all, a small group of homo sapiens left Africa around 140,000 years ago, and eventually populated the entire planet!  I mention this because there are three issues of Hakka identity that are curious to me, 1) recurrence of blond hair throughout Hakka-Chinese populations, 2) Hakka women are equal to Hakka men, 3) Hakka women never had ‘bound’ feet.  Of course, all of this might have developed through purely local conditions within China – and I once read an old Western book that speculated (for reasons not entirely defined) that thousands of years ago, Chinese people may have possessed blond hair!  Obviously, from a strictly ‘evolutionary’ perspective, all current physical characteristics have evolved from ‘different’ characteristics in the past, and that there is no reason to think that current manifestations will be the same in a thousand or ten thousand years’ time.  As it stands, blond hair exists in Northern Europe and is believed to be an adaptation to a cold climate.  There are cold areas in Northern China, and in the past (thousands of years ago) the climate was very different to today.  The last ice-age did not end until around 10,000 years ago – and perhaps many people around the globe developed the adaptation of blond hair, or at least ‘light’ coloured hair.  The question is how many non-Hakka people in China possess ‘gold’ hair?  I would say that most of my Hakka-Chinese relatives possess blond hair to varying degrees – with one man whose hair has been ‘grey’ since young.  If this adaptation did not develop in China, then where did it come from? If it did develop in China, then that is a ‘local’ explanation that excludes ‘blond’ foreigners coming into China.  A point to consider is that most Europeans are not ‘blond’ and the nearer to China the European populations are, generally speaking the darker the hair.  I have also found it interesting that within Celtic culture men and women were considered equal.  It is interesting how it is that the Hakka retained this tradition (from whatever source) within a strictly patriarchal society.  Of cause, Viking explorers possessed the blond hair (I think) but not the cultural traits of equality between men and women.  Having said all this, I did read a very good book that stated that thousands of years ago (probably during the Shang Dynasty period) women may well have been dominant within Chinese society and that this changed to its exact opposite over-time.  Again, this might mean that the Hakka are not ‘foreign’ at all, but simply retain a very old Chinese culture that they refused to change.  Another issue that might need exploring is that many Chinese and African people share very similar phenotypal traits.  As the statues of the Olmec culture are ‘African’ in nature, and considering some think these to be Shang Chinese in origin, has there been an early Africa-China connection?  Did Ancient Africans sail around the globe?

Hakka Farming: Natural Pest Control and Fertilisation of the Land

8-140Q910553S31

Original Chinese Language Article By: http://www.mz186.com

(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

After the autumn harvest, the rural Hakka farming people allow the irrigated fields to be exposed to the autumn sunshine.  This serves two distinct purposes 1) the sun scorches the dead roots of the rice plants, and in so doing, clears the area of vermin and pests, and 2) as the earth is dried by the sun, it cracks and loosens.   The Hakka farmers then wait until the passing of autumn and the arrival of early winter, when the fields become exposed to frost.  At this time, the Hakka farmers irrigate the fields with a relatively small volume of water, so that the top soil is moistened.  This is preparation for the old Hakka farming methods of ploughing the frosty fields and then burning specially constructed grass-kilns across the land.

At this time, the Hakka farmers use the oxen to plough the field and turn the top soil.  This is called ‘ploughing the frosty field’, but it is not a haphazard affair, but rather the application of a specific ploughing technique.  This ploughing process begins two meters in from the edge of the field (to create walkways), and a furrow is made (travelling in the same direction) following the line of the edge of the field.  As the earth is churned-up and turned inside out, the furrow resembles the shape of the Chinese ideogram ‘八’ (Ba), or ‘eight’.  This is why this process is referred to as ‘opening the eight ideogram’ (开八字 – Kai Ba Zi).  When the end of the field is reached, the plough and oxen are turned around and are headed back in the opposite direction, opening a new furrow.  This process continues until all the field is ploughed, despite the fact that the oxen become very tired through the exertion needed for this labour-intensive process.  The ground is hard and difficult to plough the required ‘eight ideogram’ shaped furrows, as the oxen have to first ‘break’ the ground, and then ‘turn’ the ground properly.  This means that each furrow may well have to be ploughed more than once, until the entire field is fully cultivated (and all the footprints of the oxen and human are covered over).

Ploughing frost-covered fields is a great undertaking because the ground is hard and uneven.  This requires great mastery on behalf of the Hakka farmer who intuitively knows how to lead and guide the oxen through this difficult task, as it is important to understand that the oxen cannot be ‘forced’ in anyway.  Using unwarranted force would waste the available energy for this difficult task of both human and ox.  This means that the entire human – ox interaction, and the ploughing process itself, must be of a ‘naturally’ relaxed and co-ordinated manner.  The oxen will walk in a straight line just as long as the Hakka farmer keeps his hands on the plough-handles (as this reassures and guides the ox).  When uneven mounds of earth are encountered, the Hakka farmer assists the ox by pushing the plough (with the hands and occasionally with a foot) into the contours of the land.  As the ox understands this process, it is willing to pull the plough up and down the field until all the uneven mounds are fully ‘turned’.  At the end of one furrow, the Hakka farmer lifts-up (and carries) the plough while the ox turns around, and only lowers it back on the ground once the ox is in place.  This helps the ox conserve valuable energy.

Ploughing frost covered fields is known in rural China as ‘fighting with the earth’.  It is also referred to as using a ‘double surface of frost’ for eradicating harmful insects from attacking any future crops.  This is achieved by turning the frozen top-soil so that it is driven into the lower levels of the earth (effectively creating ‘two’ levels of frosted earth – that which is still exposed to the sky – and that which is now hidden under the surface) – where insects lay their eggs.  The presence of frost under the ground kills-off these eggs and limits or prevents the danger of any future infestation.  It also allows for the earth to become loosened.  For these reasons, there is a rural saying in China which states ‘By fighting the earth and turning the frost, a full warehouse of grain is guaranteed next year!’

After ploughing the frost-covered fields, the land is left to be exposed to sunlight.  This process dries-out the area, making it unattractive to pests and vermin.  After this, people gather and dry bundles of grass from the mountains.  These are used to build kiln-like structures placed regularly across the open field.  Often they are filled with all kinds of organic (dried) material.  The dried grass is spread all over the field with the use of a five-prong, iron rake.  This also mixes the grass with the top-soil.  However, a large mound of grass is also maintained about every two meters around the field – which serve as rudimentary field kilns.

The kilns are arranged in rows across the field, and in the evening they are lit and continue to burn (from the inside out) throughout the night and into the next day (eventually burning all the grass across the entire top-soil).  The following morning, smoke can still be seen all over the field.  The objectives of this method are as follows:

1) The burnt grass serves as an organic fertiliser.

2) The burning process ‘loosens’ the soil.

3) The burning process eradicates any pests that may have survived the ploughing of the frosted-field.

These methods are preserved within traditional Hakka farming methods that can still be seen in some remote, and mountainous areas of rural China today, despite the fact that many farmers now make use of modern technology.  Without a doubt these techniques described above, may be rightly considered natural methods for pest control and eradication, and for fertilising the soil to ensure good crop yield.

©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2016.

Original Chinese Language Source Article:

http://www.mz186.com/custom/mzfs/1534.html

客家犁霜田和烧田窑

客家农村秋收完后,让水田在秋日下暴晒,一为晒死水稻根部潜伏的害虫,二让板结的田土晒疏松。待秋末冬初天气寒冷,大地降了霜冻后。农户便会放水至田间,但水不能放多,让田间泥土湿润就行。犁霜田和烧田窑都是旧时客家地区的农事活动。

这时,农户把土犁翻过来,便称“犁霜田”。犁霜田,从哪处着犁,哪处收犁,要按一定顺序去操作。一般,先在距田坎两米处着犁,沿着田坎的走向开一圈犁路,再反方向跟着这圈犁路把另一边的土给翻过来,这叫做“开八字”。接下来在田中央的地块接相隔两米左右宽的距离同样犁多条平行的八字犁路,随后使按八字沟的走向来回开犁,其中第一趟来回称“犁八字”,这一趟,牛走的最吃力,因为包括开八字翻过来的土,这犁壁要把两层田土犁翻转过来。这样在不断的“拗八字”和“开八字”间,一畦一畦翻起的田土便会展露在田间,最后将田坎四周两米内的田土犁翻过来。一丘田便全犁完了。这种顺序既保证了田间土畦有条理,又让犁田畦时人和牛不断重复掉头留下的脚印在最后翻了过来。

犁霜田,田丘越大。驶牛师傅就越轻松,驶牛者只要手扶住犁把手,跟着牛走好直线就行了,犁一段距离,才抬起犁跟着牛掉头而田丘小,没走几步又要抬犁跟牛掉头,这小块田丘犁下来,人和牛都会累得够呛。

田犁好后,只待着降霜田再给翻起的田土盖上霜,农村的叫法是土打“两面霜”。这次打霜能让藏在土层深处的害虫冻死一部分抗霜冻也可使土块疏松,难怪农村有“土打两面霜,来年谷满仓”的说法。

烧田窑要在已犁翻的冬田打了霜后,泥土此时也已被太阳晒至泛白。此时,人们便上山割来一捆一捆的鲁草,晒干,开始着手田间做窑烧土。做法是先把一些干鲁草摊成两米左右常,随后用铁扎(五齿铁耙)把泥土搬运到鲁草四周,并逐渐把鲁草完全用土遮住,成长条土堆,只在一端留一个可见里面鲁草的窑门,这种简易的田窑便建成了。一天下来,田间都是排列成行的田窑,最后在傍晚收工的时,将从各窑门处挨个点上火,各窑内的鲁草便慢慢燃烧进去,有些土窑往往到第二天早上还能看见冒烟。这烧田窑的作用,一是烧剩的鲁草灰可作田间的有机肥,二是较板结的土块烧烤后能更疏松,三是可烧死还未被霜冻死土块中的害虫

无疑,犁霜田和烧田窑的目的都是杀死田间害虫和增加土地肥力,或是让土地更疏松。烧田窑、犁霜田随着农耕机械化得普及,现也偶尔在山区能看得见。

The Confucian Patriarch in Ch’an

u=1803730803,596028415&fm=21&gp=0

The Buddha rejected the concept of a rigid hierarchy within his monastic communities – instead making the Dharma the guiding light for all Buddhists whether ordained or not. This important fact explains why the Buddha did not ascribe a central position such as that of a ‘pope’. Of course, the Buddha rejected theism and referred to himself as a man who ‘directly understood’ reality (i.e. ‘Buddha’). It is his enlightened ‘knowing’ that is preserved in the wording of the Dharma, and it is the Dharma that has authority over the training of all beings, and not single a human. It is true that head monks and senior incumbents do retain a certain authority over those with less training time as a monastic, but this is simply because such a monastic has more experience in understanding and applying the Dharma in his or her practice, and can use this experience to effectively guide others. Therefore authentic Buddhist monastic communities in Asia do not use the Christian theological re-working of familial terms such as ‘father’, ‘mother’, ‘brother’ or ‘sister’, because the Dharma as practiced by fully ordained monastics, renounces ‘desire’ and everything connected with ‘desire’. This means that a ‘head’ monastic within the Buddhist temple is not an ‘abbot’ or ‘abbess’ because no such equivalent rank exists within Buddhist philosophical terminology.

This being the case, why then, does the Ch’an tradition have the generational designation of ‘Patriarch’, given that a patriarch is generally understood to be a dominant and powerful father figure. The answer as to why the Ch’an School has the term ‘Patriarch’ is due to its tradition being influenced by Confucian thinking. The Confucian ideogram for ‘Patriarch’ is ‘祖’ (zu3). The left-hand particle ‘ 礻 ‘ is a contraction of ‘ 示 ‘ (shi4) which represents an altar. The right-hand particle is ‘ 且 ‘ (qie3) which signifies an altar with a stone tablet placed upon it. An altar is used within the Confucian tradition for ancestral worship whereby those living today pay their respects to all their familial ancestors in the past, acknowledging the genetic link that connectss antiquity to the present. As ‘ 且 ‘ (qie3) can also be used in its archaic form to represent a ‘penis’, it is generally accepted that only the ‘male’ line of the family is worshipped within this manner, with the possible exception of the Hakka ethnicity where women are generally acknowledged as equal to men – with particularly prominent Hakka women marrying so that their male partners take the name of the female line – in such a situation the gender roles are reversed, and it is the women’s surname that is engraved on the clan stone that sits on the ancestral altar. This concept of Confucian ancestry is an acknowledgement of successful procreation through the generations, and this explains why ‘祖’ (zu3) or ‘Patriarch’ also refers to a ‘surname’ that survives through the ages.

As Ch’an masters have been generally celibate, the idea of successful procreation does not hold for the perpetuation of their respective lineages. In the case of enlightened lay Ch’an masters – even if they have off-spring it is not guaranteed that their children will be enlightened beings. Therefore the Ch’an concept of ‘Patriarch’ deviates away from the Confucian model as it rejects familial implications and gender bias. Although the Ch’an tradition remains indifferent to physical procreation, such an idea is replaced by what may be termed as ‘spiritual’ reproduction – if ‘spiritual’ is defined as ‘consciousness’ or ‘mind’. A Ch’an Patriarch is not a man or a woman, but is one who has achieved (or ‘inherited’) the pristine enlightenment of the Buddha that is not dependent upon expedient circumstance, and is beyond (but inclusive) of all duality. This explains why ‘祖’ (zu3) or ‘Patriarch’ as used within the Ch’an School also refers to the name of a distinct Ch’an Lineage that survives through the ages.

©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2016.

The Meizhou Hakka Customs of Mid-Autumn Festival

Original Chinese Language Article By: http://www.kjsj.com

(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

Within Hakka areas of China, the celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as ‘Eighth Lunar Month’ and ‘Mid-Eighth Lunar Month’ Festival.  During the Mid-Autumn Festival, Hakka people not only eat Moon Cakes, but also gather together to share the tradition of watching the Full Moon, and many other unique cultural activities.

Venerating the Moonlight.

‘Venerating the Moon’ is also known as ‘Respecting the Blossoming Moon’ and ‘Connecting with the Blossoming Moon’, but in-short, all these names denote exactly the same festival of the ritualistic  offering of respect to the Full Moon.  The festivities are approached with a deep-felt sincerity that wishes that everyone in society experiences happiness and security now and for the future.  Early during the evening of the rise of the Mid-Autumn Full Moon, Hakka people begin to gather in open spaces (including temple courtyards), on elevated areas (such as balconies and towers, etc), or outside the building that stores the grain supply (found in Hakka agricultural communities).  Upon the open spaces the Hakka people place offerings (representing ritualistic sacrifices) of apples, peanuts, grapefruit, Moon Cakes, and other fruits.  The Hakka people then venerate the Full Moon and pray to the God of the Moon that all beings be protected from tragedy, and receive peace and harmony, as well as requesting good weather for planting, growing and harvesting crops during the upcoming year.  There is also the request that all poor people receive what they need to survive.  After the Veneration of the Full Moon is successfully completed, the entire Hakka community comes out to celebrate and to share feelings of good will.  Generally speaking, children cannot sit still and instead run around and play joyfully!  As things stand today, ‘Venerating the Moonlight’ is still celebrated in the majority of Hakka areas in China.

Moon-01

Singing Folk Songs.

The special antiphonal Hakka singing is known as the ‘Folk Songs of the Mountain Townships’ and is the greatly favoured Mid-Autumn Festival tradition of the Meizhou Hakka people.  The now deceased Huang Hou Xing (formerly of the Guangdong Folk Song Research Society) reported that: ‘Many places preserve the tradition of antiphonal folk singing during the Mid-Autumn Festival.  In fact, in the Hakka communities of the Meixian area, this type of singing is particularly prevalent at this time of year.’  He also stated that: ‘The Hakka people gather together on the hillsides and mountains to sing – this involves one group singing a line of verse which is answered by another group sitting nearby with a corresponding line of verse – this all happens whilst the participants ae bathed in the bright moonlight.’  Sitting in the bright moonlight during Mid-Autumn Festival and sing folk songs is a unique Hakka cultural practice.

Moon-02

Burning the Tower of Tiles.

‘Burning the Tower of Tiles’ is also known as ‘Burning the Pagoda’ and involves children building a tower of tiles and bricks that forms a tower with six sides.  In the centre of the tower is placed grass, twigs and bits of wood, which is ignited by using oil.  The flame produced is often a bright red colour that illumines the area as if it is daytime.  The pagodas can be big or small, depending on how many people want to help to build it – and the biggest can be several meters high.  The fires produced from such structures can be spectacular and intense.  This practice may have originated from loyal Hakka subjects of the Han Chinese emperor resisting the bloody rule of the Mongolian invaders of the Yuan Dynasty in China by signalling the time to revolt to other anti-Yuan Han Chinese groups during the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival.  Although this Hakka-led revolt was eventually put down, the Hakka people still preserve this communication device in their Mid-Autumn traditions.  Today, the Hakka use the ‘Burning of the Tower’ as a means of generating the Buddhist power of compassion and loving kindness to all, so that peace and harmony may spread throughout the land.

Moon-03

Burning Divine-Sky Lanterns.

It is believed that Divine-Sky Lanterns were invented during the Three Kingdoms Period by Zhuge Kongming (i.e. Zhuge Liang).  At the time, Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi were besieged Pingyang and unable to send out troops.  Zhuge was able to design a paper lantern that he released into a wind blowing in the right direction.  The lantern was carried high into the air through the hot air created by the flame, carrying a message to allies that eventually brought help.  As a result this invention became known as the ‘Divine-Sky Lantern’.  During the Qing Dynasty, those who were attacked by bandits often sent messages on the paper lanterns to let their relatives know, warning them to flee the area for safety.  This is why these communication devices are also known as ‘Safe and Sound Lanterns’.  The use of paper lanterns is a unique aspect of Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations preserved by the Hakka people as a means to secure blessings and good luck.  Hakka men, women and children used to write messages of peace and good will towards all beings on these paper lanterns, but today there is a concern about the danger of fire from these devices, and so this tradition has virtually died-out in China.

Moon-04

Eating Grapefruit.

Eating grapefruit in the Meizhou area of Hakka culture is considered as important as eat Moon Cakes at the time of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Moon-05

©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2015.

Original Chinese Language Source Text:

http://www.kjsj.com/html/dfkj/mz_2005_138.html

梅州的中秋习俗

中秋节在客家地区又被称为“八月节”或“八月半”。客家人过中秋,除了吃月饼、赏月等常见活动外,还有很多独具特色的风俗习惯。

敬月光

“敬月光”又称“拜月华”、“接月华”,总之都是祭祀月神的意思。

在生活变得富足的深切盼望下,每逢中秋圆月升起时,客家人早早地便在庭院、楼台,或屋前的禾坪、草地等可以看到月亮升起的地方,摆出苹果、花生、柚子、月饼等果品,朝着月亮拜拜,祈祷月亮之神保佑天下太平,风调雨顺,百姓丰衣足食。拜过月后,一家老小在外面赏月,吃东西,谈天说地,增进感情。小孩子一般不会端正地坐着赏月,在皎洁的月色下追逐、嬉戏、玩耍,才是他们最大的乐趣。

至今,“敬月光”这一习俗仍在大部分客家地区存留着。

唱山歌

月下对歌是被誉为 “山歌之乡”的客都梅州一项长盛不衰的中秋活动。已故广东省民俗学会会员黄火兴说过:“很多地方过中秋的时候都有唱山歌、斗山歌的活动。像在梅县、松口这些地方都非常盛行唱山歌,到了八月半就显得特别热闹。”

“月光华华照山坡,山峦山岭树山多,中秋客家山歌日,山上山下唱山歌。”客家山村的乡亲们围坐在一起,对月当歌,赏月谈心,这就是客家人特有的山歌中秋夜。

烧瓦塔

“烧瓦塔”也叫“烧宝塔”,就是让小孩子捡拾瓦片和砖块堆成一个六角塔形,中间放些草叶、树枝,点燃,再加上油或者其他东西,使火焰色泽鲜红,照耀如白昼。宝塔可大可小,若是让大人们动手搭建,高者可达数米,火焰熊熊燃起时尤为壮观。

传说这种习俗与反抗元兵的义举有关。元朝初建时,汉人不满元人对他们的血腥统治,便进行不屈的反抗,各地相约中秋节起事,在宝塔的顶层点火为号,类似于烽火台点火起事。这些反抗虽被镇压了下去,民间却遗存了烧宝塔这一习俗。而在今天,“烧瓦塔”代表了客家人民希望借助佛家力量,祈求风调雨顺、生活平安的美好愿望。

燃天灯

天灯即是孔明灯,相传是由三国时的诸葛孔明(即诸葛亮)所发明。当年,诸葛亮被司马懿围困于平阳,无法派兵出城求救。他算准风向,制成会飘浮上天的纸灯笼,系上求救的讯息,其后果然脱险,后世就称这种灯笼为孔明灯。前清时,受土匪侵害的百姓们还曾利用孔明灯来向逃亡的亲人报信、报平安,因此孔明灯也被称为“平安灯”。

很久以来,放孔明灯已经成为一种独特的民间风俗,人们在元宵、中秋等节日放孔明灯多是作祈福之用。男女老少亲手写下祝福的心愿,祈求来年的日子幸福美满,生活蒸蒸日上。不过,现在为了防火的需要,各地都禁放孔明灯,至此,民俗几近绝迹。

吃柚子

在梅州,柚子是除了月饼之外必不可少的中秋食品,有金柚(沙田柚)、

 

 

23rd World Hakka Associations Literature and Art Celebration

Img300696075

Hakka Tea Dance – the Women Pick the Tea – the Men Carry the Crop 

Original Chinese Language Article By: http://roll.sohu.com

(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

On the 29th of November, 2010, a spectacular celebration of song and dance Hakka culture was held in the Cultural Square of Heyuan City, north-east Guangdong province, with a rendition of ‘The Hakka People have Affection for the Ancient City’.  Hakka Associations from around the world gathered in Heyuan City (an area of ancient Hakka population) as a sign of respect and admiration.  The Hakka cultural exhibition was very rich and included amongst many other interesting aspects loyalty and honesty lanterns, a dramatic light show, as well as a magnificent fireworks display.  (Zhang Haiyan, Yang Hong, Wang Junxia, Wei Qingcheng)

Img300696078

General Zhao Tuo Leads Qin Dynasty Troops into the South

Img300696082

Hakka Dance ‘Song for the Hakka Mother’

Img300696085

Hakka Drama – ‘Dance of the Spring Oxen’

Img300696090

(Peddler) Playing with Flowers

Img300696095

Children’s Acrobatic Dance ‘Dinosaur Lullaby’

Img300696098

Dance ‘Colourful Wanlu Lake’

Img300696100

300 Fireworks Illuminate the Ancient Hakka Town

Img300696102

Img300696104

 

 

 

Source: People’s Daily

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: