The features and traditions of Gannan Hakka culture
2009-01-03 00:43
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What is Hakka culture? To summarize it, Hakka culture is diversified with traditional cultures from Han nationality as the main body and aboriginal cultures from She, Yao and other nationalities. It's concrete and genuine with no affectation.

Compared with the Hakka culture in western Fujian and eastern Guangdong, that in Gannan attracts the attention worldwide by its long history and wide-ranging contents. It contains historical cultural relics and various cultures in surname gens, dialect, residence, food, costume, folk custom, folk arts and so on.

Gannan Hakkas have created outstanding achievement and brilliant culture in the course of city exploit and construction. The abundant historical cultural relics around Gannan are the best proof.

With a great sense of ancestor worship, the Hakka are religious in Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The religious culture is fully reflected by the ancestral temple and the genealogy. The ancestral temple is a compound product of the Hakka's flourish and sense of ancestor worship, and is established for the surname in every natural village. For some surnames, there are branch and subsidiary temples besides the main one. For example, the surname of Lu in Nanling Village Luokou Town Ningdu County has one main ancestral temple, four subsidiary ones and two branch ones. The surname of Huang in Yingqian Town Shangyou County owns four subsidiary temples besides the main one. There are many ancestral temples that were built in Ming and Qing dynasties exist around Gannan, represented by the surname of Qi's in Xiafu Village Ganxian, the surname of Qiu's in Ling Village Luokou Town Ningdu and the surname of Dong's in Fenggang Nankang, etc. Those temples are magnificent in scale and elegant in the construction design. What's more, with rich culture, ancestral temples are the best material resources for researching the ancient family culture and the spiritual carrier for Hakka descendants at home and abroad to find their roots.

Dialect Culture

There are mainly 7 dialects in China: Beijing dialect (official language), dialect of Chu, Xiang, Gan, south Fujian, Cantonese and Hakkanese. Hakkanese is considered as the living fossil to study ancient Chinese for academic circle. Compared with the Hakkanese in western Fujian and eastern Guangdong, the one in Gannan attracts more interest of scholars. There are two main reasons. The first is that Gannan is the junction of Gan dialect and Hakka dialect; the relation and difference of the two can be easily found here. The second is its ancient and diversified. Quite a few Hakkas have lived here for generations since Tang Dynasty. In early Qing dynasty, a large number of Hakkas in eastern Guangdong and western Fujian moved back to Gannan. People in either the two places speak almost the same dialect while dialects of Gannan Hakkanese are even different among villages. From these we can see that Gannan Hakkanese is of higher value in academic study.

Hakka architecture

The Hakka fort is a largely unique Hakka-style residence. It's not only praised as a wonder in the architectural history by architects, but also intoxicated by historians, folklore experts, poets, artists and normal tourists. Gannan Hakka forts, totally over 500 existing, are distributed in Longnan, Quannan and Dingnan (all over the three counties), southern Xinfeng, southern Anyuan and some places of Xunwu, among which Longnan is the one with most Hakka forts concentrated. Most of them are square, showing different style to the round Tulou in western Fujian and Weilongwu (square inside and round outside) in eastern Guangdong. The materials used for Hakka architecture can either be brick, stone, or rammed earth. The external wall is typically 0.8--1.5 meters in thickness and the entire building could be two to four stories in height. Often turrets were also built on the top floor to extend the range of defensive power. There is always a superscription of Fort ** on the head of the gate, such as Fort Pan'an, Fort Yanyi, Fort Longguang, etc. The gate was usually reinforced with stone and covered with iron. There must be at least one well in a fort to supply water. In order to withstand a protracted siege, a Hakka fort often also had their own sophisticated sewage systems in four different directions, such as Fort Yanyi in Longnan.

What's more, the kinds of compound residence like 'Three Up Three Down" (two-floor house with three main rooms each floor), 'Nine Wells Eighteen Halls", etc are also of great features. Good examples are the folk houses in Bailu Ganxian and the 'Ninety-nine And A Half" in Shicheng.

Food culture

Gannan Hakkas enjoy a rich and colorful food culture. With the savory in flavor and numerous in varieties, it mainly divided into two parts: home cooking and banquet cooking. In the past, every household in villages had self-brewed sticky rice wine. When winter comes, they cured salted duck (most famous with Nan'an salted duck), sausage, pig's liver, pig's tongue, dried beef, distilled grain fish, etc. The food to accept important guests are sweet eggs cooked in the sticky rice wine and mashed tea. During festivals or on banquets, people always have four plates and eight bowls (altogether twelve dishes) to dish up. The unique cuisine are Pork in Lotus Leaf, Fish Cake, Sliced Cold Chicken, Egg Roll Wrappers, Pork with Pickled Vegetable, Steamed Fish with Ground Rice, Fish Fillet, Chicken in Three Cups Sauce, Brewed Bean curd, Fried Intestine, Fried Grass Carp, etc. There are also a lot of local snacks such as Vermicelli, Tangpisi, Cold Jelly, Wormwood Rice Crackers, Taro Rice Crackers, Sweet Potato Noodles, Dumpling, etc. Specialty typically are clove plum, tart date cakes, ginger, fried peanuts slice, dried persimmon, Nankang chili paste, Xingguo dried sweet potato, Huichang dried bean curd, Xinfeng crisp carrot, etc. With deep cultural meaning and strong rustic flavor, some Hakka cuisine and food have enjoyed great reputation at home and abroad.

Folk culture

The Hakka folk culture is worldly famous for its rustically simple and unsophisticated spirit. Hakka folk activities are held all year round. In Spring Festival, there are Lantern performances. The lanterns are made to the forms of dragon, snake, carp, horse, lion, etc. Dragon boat competitions are held in Dragon Boat Festival. In Mid-autumn Day, people take part in activities like Fly Kong Ming Lantern, Invite Sister Moonlight and so on. Besides these with Han nationality features, there are some other specific large-scale folk cultural performances in Gannan, which are rare in Han districts (including Hakka districts), such as Nine Lions Visit Elephant in Shangyou, Bamboo Fire Dragon Festival in Ningdu, Chinese clarinet in Yudu. In addition, the folk arts are also diverse: Hakka rustic music, Gannan Tealeaf picking opera, ballad, etc.
Geomantic omen (Feng shui)

Geomantic omen is introduced to Gannan as the Hakka ancestor migrated southwards. It is said by the geomancers' descendants that the geomantic omen was introduced mainly by Yang Junsong, one of the southward Hakka ancestors in the end of Tang Dynasty. He was also called Yang Jipin. After leaving Chang'an to Gannan, he lived in seclusion in Sanliao Village, Xingguo County and practiced geomantic omen there. He inherited and developed the forming theory in geomantic omen and created Gannan School. His major apprentices were Zengwen and Liu Jiangdong, both of whom were native of Yudu County. Since Yang Junsong in Gannan imparted geomantic omen, Fen

(Editor on duty:Fuzhiqun,zhonggeng)     
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