Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hakka doll by Ada Lum

I originally created this post for my vintage cloth doll blog,
Asia With Embroidered Eyes;
but since it has some cultural significance, I decided to include it here too.Hakka women photo by Grant Gouldon Flickrcc

The Hakka people are said to have migrated South from north central China in as early as the 1400s due to times of wars and famine. Not being the original peoples of the lands they came to inhabit; they were known as the "guest people," which is the meaning of Hakka (in Chinese 客家 Kejia). Hakka communities can be found in Guandong, Jiangxi, Fujian, as well as other parts of China (including, of course, Hong Kong), all around the South China Sea, and even in Australia and the US. One article I read, referred to them as the gypsies of China.* The Hakka of the mid-1900's were a unique people... due in part to speaking their own dialect, not practicing footbinding of women, in a fondness for education, and in their unusual living structures and cuisine. Though known for their hospitality, some Hakka clans previously resided in round fortress-type multi-story, earth homes called tulou. A tulou could house hundreds of individuals all sharing a common family name.

The Hakka people were typically farmers, though there may have been fisherman among them as well. Hakka women worked the fields while the men sought jobs in the cities or as soldiers. Hakka cuisine is notoriously different, as the people are said to "have made an art of salting and preserving ingredients (pickling), as well as developing tasty dishes from whatever cheap produce was available." Their more well known dishes include: ja dai cheung (deep-fried intestines), yim guk gei (salt-baked chicken), and poon choy (literally dinner in a bucket)." (*Lonely Planet: World Food Hong Kong by Richard Sterling and Elizabeth Chong, 2001, p25) Some internationally recognized Hakka include actor Chow Yun-Fat and former government leader of the People's Republic of China Deng Xiaoping. There are actually many others as well. These "guest people," though often left with the least desirable land, living in poverty, and looked down upon; seem to have a persistent, patient will to triumph over their circumstances.

Clearly, Hakka people were a special and distinct part of the cultural diversity that was Hong Kong during the time that linen crafter, business woman, and dollmaker Ada Lum made her life there; as seen in one of her following creations....

Information gleaned from:
Lonely Planet: China's Southwest
by Damian Harper, 2007, p372
More information about the tulou can be found in:
Lonely Planet: China by Damian Harper et al, 2005, p340
Frommer's China by Simon Foster et al, 2010, p533
Wikipedia: Hakka People

Thursday, August 19, 2010


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