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The humanity of Hakka

Plough diligently on sunny days, and read on rainy days. Family tradition for righteous people

The migration, mobility, and settlement of races is a history with conflicts as well as racial integration. In the process of conflicts and integration, the people that bend their waist to plow the land and reap from the sweat are all Taiwanese.

Compared with the Minnan people, Hakka people were the late comers, after the Pingpu and Minnan. In the pre-industrial era, without any land, people could hardly survive. Even if they got land, they had to secure water resources. Among the 4 major races in Taiwan, Hakka arrived in Taiwan just earlier than the Mainlanders that came in 1949 with the Nationalist Government that retreated to Taiwan after a series of setbacks in the civil war.

The latecomers are always the minorities in a society. It decides their socio-economic status, social class, and more. It is rather impossible for each race to group into interest groups. For example, the people from south Fujian and north Fujian engaged in armed conflicts to gain the access to water and land. Regarding the Hakka who migrated to Taiwan, most of them came from Guangdong, aka Yue. For the interests of their own race, armed conflicts were not uncommon between the Min and Yue people.

In the ultra-complicated racial relationships in the development of history, it has been impossible for different races to live harmoniously. Therefore, Hakka had to group together in "duei" (groups) as a comparatively minor race to survive in this society. Surrounded by strong competitors, it is people's basic instinct to group together in order to survive.

At that time, the regional tycoons tended to have their own armed forces. Liouduei was formed during the Jhu Yi-guei Incident, in which Jhu resisted the Cing Court. The regional tycoons transformed the people's militia that guarded over their homes into a volunteer army that help the government troops. In about 1721, the Hakka communities gathered to form a volunteer troop in Meinong, Kaohsiung and the entire Pingtung County. The troop was subdivide into six groups (duei)—the right duei, central duei, front duei, pioneer duei, back duei, and left duei.

There weren't any obvious borders for these 6 duei. General speaking, the right duei occupied the land from Meinong, Kaohsiung to Ligang Township and part of Gaoshu Township in Pingtung County. The front duei covered the areas in Changchih Township and Linluo Township. Pingtung City was regarded as front duei; Jhutian area as central duei; Neipu area as back duei; Wanluan area as pioneer duei; and the areas around Jiadung Township and Sinpi Township as left duei (Note 1)

As the Hakka people always helped the Cing Court to suppress the rebellions of the Minnan race with significant achievements, they were regarded as "righteous people." In the revolt led by Lin Shuangwun of Tian Di Huei, the volunteer army from Liouduei in south Taiwan mobilized north to help the Cing army suppress them. With great contributions, the Cing Emperor awarded them 134 yimin (righteous people) waist medals.

In Pingtung, the Hakka race occupies about 24% (Note 2) of the total population. Among them, the Siao's family live at Jiadung Township are the most prosperous ones.

The ancestor of the Siao's family migrated from Guangdong to Jiadung, Taiwan during Emperor Jiacing of the Cing Dynasty. They made a fortune by exploring the land. Now, the Siao's mansion remains intact. Being a well-preserved five-courtyard mansion, it is listed as a Class 3 Historic Monument. From the mansion, we can have a glimpse of the power and wealth of the Siao's family during the middle and late Cing Dynasty. Now it is a representative Hakka architecture in Pingtung County.

The most delicious Hakka dish probably is Hakka flat noodles. A bowl of flat noodles in soup with a plate of stir-fried large intestine, both of which are chewy, is very delicious. Once you visit the Hakka communities in Neipu and Wanluan, you can find cafeterias serving these dishes easily.

In recent years, the Hakka communities in north Taiwan have been promoting the Tung Blossom Festival every year. It is actually not a traditional Hakka festival. In Pingtung County, the Tung blossom can hardly be seen. However, along Ping-185 Highway, the Hakka communities celebrate the traditional Hakka ceremonies of New Baby Festival when a first boy is born to their families and the Cannon Siege rite. Every year, the Hakka Affairs Department of Pingtung County Government sponsors the Cannon Siege rite in the county stadium. It is a very lively affair.

Note 1: Please consult the website of Hakka Affairs Department, Pingtung County Government

Note 2: According to the survey of Hakka Affairs Council conducted in 2010-2011, the population of Hakka occupied 23.7%, numbered 207 thousand, of the total population.