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2 History and the Construction of Hakka Identity

图书名称:Christian Souls and Chinese Spirits:A Hakka Community in Hong Kong
图书作者:Nicole Constable    ISBN:
出版社:Berkeley: University of California Press    出版日期:1994年

Ethnicity, like nationalism, is a relatively new concept. It is of relevance only within the context of the "modern nation state"—although to its adherents it is primordial, rooted in time immemorial (B. Anderson 1983). Ethnicity has not always existed as a category for action or a reason for shared allegiance. The creation of ethnic identities, as with national ones, involves a process in which people become not just the subjects of history but active participants in its making. Thus alliances based on linguistic affiliation, shared local interests, or cultural similarities are transformed into more consciously and widely articulated identities. New ethnic and national identities form what Benedict Anderson has called "imagined communities" (1983). "Invented traditions" (Hobsbawm 1983) are of central importance in the process of forming these communities. An "invented tradition" refers to "a set of practices, normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules and of a ritual or symbolic nature, which seek to inculcate certain values and norms of behavior by repetition, which automatically implies continuity with the past. In fact, where possible, they normally attempt to establish continuity with a suitable historic past" (1983:1). As Hobsbawm writes, "'Traditions' which appear or claim to be old are often quite recent in origin and sometimes invented" (1983:1); this can be seen in the case of Hakka ethnicity.

Ethnicity is not an indigenous Chinese concept and has not always been easily translated into the Chinese term minzu or "nationality," which is a modern loanword from the Japanese. Before the introduction of the modern sociological or intellectual concept of ethnicity, one might argue, there existed several dichotomous Chinese views: of Chinese and non-Chinese, of Han Chinese versus Manchu rulers, of Chinese and non-Chinese barbarians of various types and degrees. But only in the course of nineteenth and early twentieth centuries did difference begin to be conceived of in terms that could be considered "ethnic" rather than linguistic, cultural, geographical, or hereditary.

Hakka ethnicity is said to be rooted in an immemorial past reaching back perhaps as far as the third or the fourth century A.D., but these early so-called "Hakka" were not an "ethnic group" in the sense that we now use the term, with its implications of self-awareness and cognizance of their place in history. At that time, ancestors of today's Hakka were most likely indistinguishable from other Chinese. At some debatable point in time after they came into contact with Min or Yue speakers in southern China, they came to recognize themselves—and became recognized by other Chinese—as culturally and linguistically distinct; they were referred to as immigrants or strangers, as the word "Hakka" suggests.[1] Only later did "Hakka" become a potent ethnic label and the basis for shared identity, action, and belief.

We cannot know precisely when Hakka began to accept "Hakka" as their name rather than thinking of themselves simply as Han Chinese (or people of Tang) or Chinese from the north. Nineteenth-century conflicts and alliances, such as the Hakka-Punti wars (1850–67), corresponded with Hakka and Cantonese linguistic differences (M. Cohen 1968), but this fact does not necessarily determine whether such events are "ethnic." Such social groupings were certainly relevant to the creation of Hakka ethnic identity, but alone they are not sufficient evidence of the existence of "ethnicity" as we now understand it. There are various theories about when the Hakka became an "ethnic group" outlined below, but most of these theories depend on which definition of "ethnicity" is being used. If we consider Benedict Anderson's criteria described above, there is strong evidence that a self-aware and self-proclaimed Hakka ethnicity appeared during the nineteenth century and became increasingly pronounced by the beginning of the twentieth century.

Leong identifies the first consciously "ethnic" statement articulating the origins and "ethos" of the Hakka as appearing around 1808 in a lecture presented by a scholar named Xu Xuzeng (1985: 302–7). Many of Xu's views, and those of other isolated Hakka spokesmen of the nineteenth century identified by Leong, were reiterated by Hakka intellectuals during a period of strong Chinese nationalism after the turn of this century (Leong 1985:307). Certainly by the 1920s, with the emergence of international Hakka associations and the visions and rhetoric they produced, Hakka ethnicity became the basis for action, and Hakka identity alone became sufficient reason for shared allegiance.

As one man from Shung Him Tong explained, it was not until he came to Hong Kong over fifty years ago from an exclusively Hakka region of Meixian that he understood that there were different kinds of Chinese. It was then that he realized that he was Hakka; he joined the Hakka church in Hong Kong and became a member of the Hong Kong branch of the International Hakka Association. These two institutions helped spell out for him what it meant to be Hakka and helped to create ethnic loyalties that had no previous place in his life.

Historians, both Hakka and western, as well as other scholars and writers, have rewritten Chinese history, infusing it with a new Hakka consciousness, inventing and imagining Hakka identity. For that reason, events and conflicts that were not necessarily conceived of as "ethnic" when they occurred, but which broke down along Hakka/Punti linguistic lines, can in retrospect be interpreted as evidence of an earlier existence of ethnic awareness.

Today it is generally accepted among scholars and Hakka that, despite the likelihood of some intermixing of Hakka ancestors and non-Chinese people, Hakka are of north central Chinese origin and are members of the Chinese nationality. But some of the Hakka I met in Hong Kong, university students as well as rural farmers, are still reluctant to admit that they are Hakka because of the lingering negative implications. Despite the fact that most people of Shung Him Tong village present themselves as proud Hakka, several older villagers expressed a belief that they must defend themselves against the accusations that they are not "real Chinese" and assert the truth about Hakka identity. This they do in part through the telling of Hakka history and in part by infusing Chinese history with Hakka consciousness. The history of Hakka migrations and the Taiping Rebellion are two historical events that help define Hakka identity. If I want to learn about the Hakka, one forty-year-old man in Shung Him Tong told me, I must study these two important episodes of their history. This chapter focuses on the way in which the Hakka are defined by, and written into, Chinese history by Hakka historians, European missionaries, and others.

Constructions of Hakka Migrations

Interest in the Hakka and their character and customs grew out of, or at least greatly increased, during and after the Taiping Rebellion (1851–64) and the Hakka-Punti wars (1850–67), and reached its height in the 1920s, a period that has been referred to as the peak of Hakka nationalism (Blake 1975). It was during this time that Hakka historians (e.g., T. Hsieh 1929; Luo 1933) began to develop their theories concerning Hakka migrations. Their writings, unlike those of European missionaries who were also interested in the question of Hakka origins, began with the premise that the Hakka were not "tribals" of non-Han Chinese origin or Han Chinese who had mixed with "tribals," but were pure Chinese.

On the basis of genealogical records and linguistic and cultural evidence, late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century Hakka historians and missionaries, like most scholars today, believed that the ancestors of today's Hakka migrated southward from Henan and southern Shanxi provinces in north central China during the early fourth century A.D. and that, by the thirteenth century when they crossed the border into Guangdong province, they were identified as culturally distinct "Hakka" or immigrants (e.g., M. Cohen 1968; Ho 1959; Luo 1933; Nakagawa 1975). Less resolved are the questions of whether the migration in the fourth century A.D. was the earliest migration, what the reasons for the migrations were, and at what point in history Hakka became an ethnic group.

The Hakka migrations, like invented traditions, are crucial because they represent an "attempt to establish continuity with a suitable historic past" (Hobsbawm 1983:1). The specific historic link in this case is between the Hakka present and the Han Chinese past. Hakka genealogies, like those of other Chinese, are traced back as far as possible and are considered "evidence" of pure Chinese as opposed to barbarian status. The Hakka emphasis on a historic genealogy of the group is related to the conception of Chinese identity as tied to the concept of zu (genealogical and blood relations; see Blake 1975, 63–95). As one Hakka man in the United States reiterated to me in a recent letter, Hakka have "the purest blood of the Han race because people in Central China intermarried with northern [non-Chinese] people after Hakka moved to [the] South, but Hakka did not intermarry with native people."

Although many Chinese genealogies are considered unreliable or inauthentic by scholars, like many invented traditions, they play a central part in claims to Chinese identity. Histories of Hakka origins and migrations have taken on important symbolic significance, and may also be seen as "myths" or "charters" for Hakka identity (Malinowski 1922; Nagata 1981; Trosper 1981). Hakka migrations can also be interpreted as genealogy "writ large."

The writings of European missionaries are of relevance to the study of the Hakka because missionary views on Hakka identity and origins are still echoed by Hakka writers and by people in Shung Him Tong today. The "historical evidence" of Hakka high-status origins cited by missionaries was used to substantiate the assertions of Hakka historians.

In general, missionaries seem to have held the Hakka in high regard. The Hakka appeared to them to be less xenophobic, more monotheistic, and more receptive to the Christian faith than other Chinese (Bohr 1980:133–34, Eitel 1867).[2] As one missionary wrote, "On the whole the Hakkas are not as bigoted as the Puntis, and the gospel has found easier access to them than the latter" (Lechler 1878:358). To the missionaries, the "great rebellion" which originated with the Hakka, demonstrated that the Hakka were "open to new convictions," and that although the rebellion "turned out a sad failure, yet it might have been attended with better results, had the movement been better directed" (Lechler 1878:358).

Missionaries wrote many articles that focused primarily on the question of Hakka origins. Were the Hakka "a peculiar race or tribe, inhabiting the mountains near Canton and Swatow, who are of a lower social rank than the native Chinese … a mongrel race more civilized than the aboriginals, but hardly entitled to rank with the Chinese?" (Campbell 1912:474); or were they "a very distinct and virile strain of the Chinese race" (Campbell 1912:480), "Chinese de pure sang" (Piton 1873:225), "genuine Chinese" (Oehler 1922), "not foreigners but true Chinese" (Eitel 1867, 1 (6):65) from the north of China (Lechler 1878)?

There are numerous examples of the missionaries siding with the argument of Hakka high status origins. As missionary Oehler wrote:

The theory of the origin of a tribe from a mountainous corner in Fukien has frequently been met with suspicion, whereas among authors writing without accurate knowledge of the Hakka history the assertion is often found that the Hakka belong to the aborigines of that province, and are not really Chinese at all—an idea which the Punti, who are disinclined towards the Hakka, have always been ready to endorse. Against this theory are the facts of language, character, and customs, and the impulse to migrate and spread out, which in the name "Hakka" finds striking expression. This impulse, moreover, is a characteristic of the real Chinese, but not of the aborigines. It is safe, therefore, to accept the tradition which relates that they migrated about A.D. 900 from the district of Kwangshan in South Honan [Henan], where even today the language and customs, especially in connection with marriage and funeral rites, are said closely to resemble those of the Hakka … (1922:351).

According to Lechler, the most reliable sources for tracing the origin of the Hakka were the "family records, which are religiously preserved by the heads of clans" (1878:353). He traced the "pedigree" of "catechist Li" back to the founder of the Tang dynasty in A.D. 620 and cited several other genealogies demonstrating that "the Hakkas descended from the North of China," which explained "the similarity of their dialect with the mandarin" (1878:354).[3]

Missionaries observed that at each stage in Chinese history, when a dynasty was overthrown, those opposed to the new rulers were forced to emigrate. As invaders generally came from the north, the Chinese population expanded southward. In times of relative peace and prosperity, population expansion, or natural calamity, people headed south in hopes of finding new resources and new opportunities. For this reason, Piton argued, "An outline history of the Hakkas, is … nothing else but an outline history of the Chinese in general" (1873:225; emphasis in original). This raised the question of when the Hakka were differentiated from the rest of China's population and when they became known as Hakka.

The origins and migrations of those who later became known as Hakka have been written about by many Hakka scholars. Xu Xuzeng wrote of Hakka culture and northern origins as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century, and several others made similar points (see Leong 1985:302). However, the best known and most famous of the Hakka spokespersons, whose views are still quoted in the publications of Hakka associations worldwide and who is a "household name" among many Hakka, is the historian Luo Xianglin (1933, 1950, 1965, 1974). Luo was also, it is important to note, a leader of the Hong Kong branch of the International Hakka Association and an influential and well-respected member of the church in Shung Him Tong. A significant portion of Luo's evidence of Hakka origins comes from genealogies of Shung Him Tong families, most of whom are descendants of Basel mission converts from China.

As Leong aptly describes it, Luo's work is "a veritable bible for the Hakka" (1980:5), with its unambiguous statements of Hakka beliefs. Luo's main points are as follows:

(1) Hakkas were originally migrants from the Central Plain, true Han Chinese from the cradle of Chinese civilization, not hill aborigines as their neighbors repeatedly identified them, out of ignorance or malice; (2) Hakkas were historically identified with Han patriotism; they were patriotic loyalists of the Chin in the 4th century, Sung loyalists in the late 13th and 14th centuries against Mongol invaders, and anti-Manchu patriots in modern times, as exemplified by Hung Hsiu-ch'uan and Sun Yat-sen; (3) the Hakka dialect is unmistakably rooted in the prestigious northern, Central Plain speech and in Sui-T'ang phonology; (4) Hakkas justifiably take pride in their women, in academic achievement, and in the possession of all the orthodox Chinese virtues of diligence, frugality, and culturedness in manners and customs (Leong 1980:5–6).

Hakka migrations are written about in several other sources. Here I shall present only enough material to illustrate some areas of disagreement and to illustrate the connection between Hakka and missionary views (see M. Cohen 1968; Hashimoto 1973; Leong 1980, 1985; Luo 1933, 1950, 1965; Moser 1985). Luo classifies Hakka migrations into five successive southward movements. The first period of migration, which lasted from the beginning of the fourth century until the end of the ninth, occurred in conjunction with the southward flight of the Western Jin, originating in Henan, and reached as far as South Hubei, South Henan, and central Jiangxi. The second wave occurred from the end of the ninth century to the beginning of the twelfth. It began as a result of the disorder at the end of the Tang dynasty and the migrations went from Henan to Jiangxi and southern Fujian, and from Jiangxi to Fujian and Guangdong. Northern central Jiangxi was left undisturbed; thus, the earliest immigrants there were unmolested and their dialect today can be readily identified with Hakka (Campbell 1912). The third wave stretched from the beginning of the twelfth century to the beginning of the Ming dynasty in the middle of the seventeenth century. It was initiated by the southward exodus of the Southern Song dynasty and its flight across the Yangtze with the invasion of Mongols, which dislodged people from Jiangxi and southwestern Fujian and forced them into the northern and eastern quarters of Guangdong. By the end of the Yuan dynasty (A.D. 1368), northern and eastern Guangdong were exclusively Hakka. The fourth wave, which lasted from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries, began with the Manchu conquest and overthrow of the Ming dynasty. During the Qing dynasty Hakka migration expanded into the central and coastal areas of Guangdong, Sichuan, Guangxi, Hunan, Taiwan, and southern Guizhou. The fifth wave, triggered by population pressure, Hakka-Punti strife in western Guangdong during the middle of the nineteenth century, and the Taiping Rebellion, sent emigrants to the southern part of Guangdong, to Hainan Island, and overseas. This stage continued until the 1940s (M. Cohen 1968; Leong 1980; Luo 1965). The establishment of the People's Republic of China and the announcement that it will reclaim Hong Kong in 1997 has triggered what might be considered a sixth wave of migration out of Hong Kong and overseas primarily to the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe, Taiwan, Singapore, and other regions of Southeast Asia.[4]

Hakka historian Hsieh Ting-yu (1929), who like Luo was a member of the International Hakka Association, followed the theory of Eitel (1867, 1868, 1869), a European missionary who asserted that most Hakka originated in Shandong province, a few in Shanxi province, and fewer still in Anwui. At the end of the third century B.C., they were persecuted and fled southward to Henan, Anwui, and Jiangxi. Beginning in the Han dynasty and up to the fourth century, Hakka rose to positions of power and thus with the fall of the Jin they again had to flee from the Shandong mountains to the south of Henan, Jiangxi, and Fujian.

The period after the tenth century A.D. presents less disagreement among scholars as to the sequence of migrations into Jiangxi, Fujian, and northern Guangdong. By the twelfth century the progenitors of the Hakka were accepted as "being Hakka," that is, as a group with its own language, customs, and way of life showing marked differences from those of other "ethnostemmas," or ethnic branches (Liu, quoted in Nakagawa 1975:216). According to Luo, this split occurred between the Five Dynasties period (A.D. 907–60) and the Song dynasty (A.D. 960–1127)—that is, before the third wave of migration. Liu is more specific and pinpoints the time when the progenitors of the Hakka formed an independent ethno-stemma as the period of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, when, in the mountains where Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangxi meet, they were independent and isolated from all dynasties (Liu, quoted in Nakagawa 1975:216–17).[5]

Leong (1980) criticizes Luo's scheme of five periods of migration as too simplistic. He also uses Barth's concept of ethnic boundaries in order to argue that ethnic self-awareness does not occur in isolation from other groups as Liu, Luo, and Piton (1873) suggest. On this basis, the conflicts in Fujian province throughout the sixteenth century between the She (a non-Han minority) and the Han who later became known as Hakka provided the setting in which ethnic identity emerged. According to Leong, "These Han Chinese had evolved some distinctive cultural markers, including a separate dialect, and emerged from their non-Han ethnic environment with a heightened sense of Han Chineseness" (1980:14). When in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries these people migrated from the area and came into contact with other Han who were culturally different, they first became known as Hakka (1980:14). It was in the seventeenth century that Leong believes the term "Hakka" made its first appearance.

Hsieh Ting-yu believes that the distinction between "settlers" (kejia) and "native inhabitants" (tujia) has existed since the Tang census of A.D. 780 (1929:217) and was not intended to suggest "racial distinction" but merely implied the literal meaning of ke as newcomers. The term "Hakka," he argues, had its origins in the literal meaning of the term and at some later point came to refer to an ethnic group.

Along the same lines as Hsieh Ting-yu, Leong explains that Hakka was merely a way of saying "sojourner households," the same term that was used in local registers to distinguish them from "native households" (1980:19–20). The Hakka preferred this label to the insulting terms used by the native Cantonese. One such term was "Ngai-lou": "'Ngai' is the sound of the first person pronoun 'I' in the Hakka dialect; the Cantonese had fun with the peculiarity (and utter incomprehensibility) of the Hakka speech when they called the Hakkas 'Ngai fellows'. The character 'Ngai' was newly invented with the 'dog' component next to 'righteousness'" (1980:20). Since the Hakka had no one region or "drainage basin to call their own," they had no metropolis to name themselves after, and "the term 'Hakka' was the next best thing" (Skinner 1977:37, in Leong 1980:20).

Anthropologist Myron Cohen (1968) demonstrates how language served to differentiate social groupings. The Hakka became linguistically differentiated from other groups, he argues, at the end of the southern Song (late thirteenth century) during the third period of migration (according to Luo's scheme) from Fujian and Jiangxi into Guangdong:

When, at the end of the Southern Sung, large numbers of people began to enter Kwangtung [Guangdong] from the north, they were confronted by a population which had come to possess a cultural repertory quite similar to their own. There were differences, chief among them being dialect…. [It] was at this juncture that the inhabitants of the mountainous regions of southwestern Fukien entered Kwangtung and became known as the "Guest People" (K'e-chia) or, in its Cantonese pronunciation, "Hakka" (1968: 246–47).

According to Cohen, the term "Hakka" took on sociological significance when it was recognized as differentiating the Hakka speakers from the Cantonese speakers with whom they competed for resources.

It is likely that a group of "immigrants" could be distinguished from other Chinese in southern China several hundred years ago, but the process of constructing the Hakka as an ethnic group was most evident during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was only then that a conscious attempt began to "define" the collective identity and allegiance of the Hakka on the basis of their different language, history, and cultural traits. Luo's and Hsieh Ting-yu's writing about Hakka migrations was far more definitive as a Hakka act than were the migrations they described; likewise, later reflections on the Taiping Rebellion were likely to be infused with more Hakka consciousness than was evident among the Taipings themselves.

The questions of the precise point in time of Hakka differentiation from other Han Chinese and the precise place and date of Hakka ancestral origin are not of central significance to this study of Hakka identity beyond lending support to the argument that missionaries and Hakka historians agreed that the Hakka are "true" Chinese of northern origin. More significant is the discourse on Hakka history and identity that was generated by this debate.

The belief in northern origins—which identifies Hakka as at once Chinese and uniquely Hakka—is a central feature of Hakka identity regardless of whether individuals are familiar with Hakka history books or are able to document the northern origin of their own families. Hakka people in Hong Kong today are likely to trace their origin to somewhere in Guangdong province or Meixian or, if pressed further, from Fujian province or "further north," as several young people from Shung Him Tong told me. These details of origin seem to have relevance only to a few individuals and scholars, yet most Hakka consider as unquestionable facts their Chinese origins and the continuous waves of Hakka migrations. On several occasions in Shung Him Tong, I was told that Hakka "sounds more like Mandarin than Cantonese does" and that this was evidence of their northern origins. Linguists (cf. Norman 1988, Ramsey 1987) now classify Hakka as a southern Chinese language, but linguistic evidence also suggests that the ancestors of the Hakka migrated from the north even earlier than historians such as Luo claim.[6]

The Taiping Rebellion

The Taiping Rebellion serves as another important illustration of the construction of Hakka identity through history.[7] The Taiping Rebellion is a "key symbol" (Ortner 1973) of Hakka identity. In Geertz's sense, it serves as a commentary, a "story" Hakka tell themselves about what it means to be Hakka (1973b). It reflects Hakka patriotism and Chinese nationalism, Hakka revolutionary character, Hakka gender roles, Hakka hardships, Hakka determination, and the value of Hakka language, many of the "characteristics" discussed in Chapter 6. To Hakka Christians, it also represents an early example of Hakka "Christianity."

The Taipings and the Society of God Worshipers are also important as an example of how, by the nineteenth century, Hakka-Cantonese dialect difference had become a crucial influence in "the alignment and formation of social groupings" (M. Cohen 1968:286). The Society of God Worshipers, like the Hakka church described in the following chapters, provided an organizational framework through which Hakka interests could be served and Hakka identity expressed (Kuhn 1977:365).

The Taiping Rebellion is also a wonderful example of how history can be shaped and rewritten to serve different interests. Interest in Hakka culture was bolstered by the Taiping Rebellion. European missionaries, who were very optimistic about the Christian elements of the Society of God Worshipers in its early stages, became all the more interested in the Hakka as potential converts. Chinese official sources at that time were, as would be expected, extremely critical of the Taiping rebels whom they depicted as bandits and traitors. According to several Hakka informants from Shung Him Tong, the condemnation and mistrust of the Taipings, fueled by resentment generated during the Hakka-Punti wars, carried over to attitudes and treatment of the Hakka in general.

In the period following the Taiping Rebellion it was portrayed as a despicable incident and many Taiping documents and sources were destroyed or censored. But by the turn of the century, with the decline of the Qing dynasty, Chinese sources began to represent the Taipings in a more positive light and thus the rebellion became a vehicle by which to express certain positive characteristics of the Hakka. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who some Hakka argue was himself Hakka, and various Hakka writers (e.g., Lou Xianglin and Hsieh Ting-yu) emphasized the heroic role of the Hakka in the rebellion.[8] Sun is said to have admired the rebellion so much that he was nicknamed Hong Xiuquan after the Taiping leader (Moser 1985:247); and according to Teng (1962), Sun's attention to the Taiping Rebellion was an important rallying point in attracting Hakka followers to the cause of the nationalist revolution. Thus, over forty years after the rebellion took place, the reviled bandits and traitors were transformed into patriotic and revolutionary Hakka heroes.

This positive image of the Hakka and their role in the Taiping Rebellion is reflected in the writings of both Hakka historians and European missionaries. Communist writers in the People's Republic of China, however, have placed little emphasis on the significance of ethnicity, and instead depict the Taiping Rebellion as a precursor to the communist revolution, as a "bourgeois-peasant war against the feudalistic Manchu regime" (Teng 1971:4), or as a forceful show of Chinese national consciousness. Regardless of the contradictions such an interpretation could present with regard to communist or nationalist party sympathies, the people of Shung Him Tong, like many Hakka, continue to refer to the Taiping Rebellion with pride.

For readers unfamiliar with the Taiping Rebellion, it is necessary to highlight some of its main features, and the role of the Hakka in it. It followed a prolonged period of dynastic decline, overpopulation, agrarian distress, increased foreign penetration, and growing dissatisfaction with the Manchu rulers. After the defeat of the Chinese by the British in the Opium War (1839–42), foreign invaders imported opium and other commodities to China and as the economy worsened the Manchu government was forced to levy taxes in the form of silver from the people in order to pay for "indemnities." Silver became increasingly scarce as it flooded out of the country (see Kuhn 1978; Teng 1971: chap. 2). With economic disaster, corruption and administrative inefficiency increased. As a result of the war, Shanghai supplanted Canton as China's major port, and more than 100,000 Hakka porters and boatmen were thrown out of work. The economic crunch also forced the closing of Guangxi's silver mines, bringing despair to thousands of Hakka miners. Population pressures pushed as many as 90 percent of Guangxi's farmers into tenancy (Bohr 1980:134). As international conflicts increased, so did local conflicts, and by the time of the first treaty settlement with the British (1842–44), secret societies were actively involved in open rebellion in parts of Guangdong and Guangxi. Guangxi's rivers were overrun with pirates who had been chased from Guangdong by the British navy (Laai 1950). Guangxi's officials became increasingly corrupt, and villagers were forced to protect themselves against bandits, secret societies, and local feuds. Such was the situation when the Society of God Worshipers, under the leadership of Hong Xiuquan, grew into what is known as the Taiping Rebellion.

Hong Xiuquan, the leader of the Taipings, is an oft-cited Hakka hero among the people of Shung Him Tong, although they are highly critical of his unorthodox "misinterpretation" of Christianity. Hong was raised in a Hakka village in Guangdong, and his genealogy, like most Chinese genealogies that claim descent from some famous official or another, traced his descent from a twelfth-century Song dynasty emperor (Hamberg 1854; Newbern 1953:64). As was the case for many Chinese, and especially for the Hakka according to several informants in Shung Him Tong, the hope for raising the prestige and economic status of the family lay in the possibility of a son passing the civil service examinations. Although Hong was considered a promising candidate, he failed the examination several times. After the first two failed attempts, he returned to his village seriously ill and is said to have had a strange dream. Six years later, when Hong read the Christian tract "Good Words to Exhort the Age," he recalled his dream and interpreted it as a calling from God, believing himself to be the younger brother of Christ. Hong and his cousin then baptized each other and began to preach to family, friends, and others who would listen (Kuhn 1978).

Two of Hong's earliest followers included his cousin Hong Rengan, who became the main informant for Basel missionary Theodore Hamberg's 1854 book on the early Taipings, and Feng Yunshan, a distant relative, schoolmate, and friend of Hong's. Among those inspired by Hong's visions was Li Tsin Kau, another Hakka who later became a respected member of the Basel mission. For an account of Li's life and his connection with Hong, the Basel mission, and the Hakka church, see Appendix 1.

A major feature of the Taiping religion was iconoclasm. Like Christian converts, Hong's converts "threw out the ancestor tablets in their homes, gave up Buddhist ceremonies at funerals, and took part in idol-breaking expeditions" (Boardman 1952:13). As a result of local opposition to their iconoclasm, Hong and Feng left to preach to Hong's relatives in Guangxi. In 1845 Hong returned to Guangdong to write and teach while Feng remained in Guangxi and founded the Society of God Worshipers, which within two years attracted several thousand Hakka worshipers (1952:14).[9] In 1847, Hong proceeded to study with the American Baptist missionary Issachar Roberts for several months, but returned to Guangxi without his baptism (Hamberg 1854:31–32).[10]

At first, the God Worshipers were primarily a religious group with Feng as the organizational leader and Hong as the oracle and titular leader; but as the economic situation in Guangxi worsened, the goals of the God Worshipers changed to direct opposition of the Manchu government, local officials, and their Punti allies. The God Worshipers organized themselves to protect their members from the growing violence and banditry in the region, and the security they offered became increasingly attractive to outsiders, especially to persecuted Hakka. As the goal of the God Worshipers came to be defined as the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, it further attracted people who were in opposition to the officials and the Manchus. The religious organization grew into a military community of oppressed Hakka, God Worshipers, and outlaws in opposition to militia, gentry, and government (Teng 1971:62). As Michael describes it,

what gave this God Worshippers Society its special militant character was the fact that it was formed among Hakka by Hakka leaders. Once the society was established and its many branches were functioning, the Hakka found it an organizational protection in their fight against the Punti. Large groups of Hakka, already in conflict with their non-Hakka neighbors, joined the rapidly growing society. In the villages where they predominated, the Hakka congregations took over local control and forced others to join. The conflict between Hakka and non-Hakka was thus transformed into one between the God Worshippers Society and opposing militant organizations (1966:30).

Increasing Hakka-Punti conflicts helped attract new members to the God Worshipers. Hamberg describes one incident involving a wealthy Hakka man who had taken as his concubine a young woman promised in marriage to a Punti man. The Hakka man, who had settled the matter with her parents, refused to give her up (1854:48–49). The district magistrate and his officials were overwhelmed with petitions and accusations lodged daily against Hakka, so they advised the Punti to defend their own interests and "enforce their own rights against the Hakkas" (1854:49). Soon after, more violence erupted between Hakka and Punti in the region, involving many villages and leaving large numbers of Hakka homeless, with only the God Worshipers to turn to for help. As Hamberg wrote, these destitute people "willingly submitted to any form of worship in order to escape from their enemies" (ibid.).

Laai speculates that when Hong's goal grew to include the overthrow of the Qing, the leaders of the God Worshipers might have used existing conflicts to further aggravate the relations between Hakka and Punti in order to advance the influence of the society. According to Laai, the members of the society helped to agitate the hostility "so as to bring about the intense feud between the two peoples. Under this situation the Society of God-worshippers served as a reservoir to receive any Hakkas who were dislodged by the Puntis" (1950:176). In turn, the Society of God Worshipers was becoming "not merely a religious organization but also a champion of the Hakka people" (ibid.). Whether the God Worshipers encouraged the hostility is not entirely clear, but eventually it involved them directly.

The first armed conflict between the God Worshipers and outsiders occurred in October 1850. As Hong Rengan described the outbreak to Hamberg, it began when members of a Punti village took the buffalo of a God Worshiper:

The brethren were highly incensed at such an outrage, and demanded back the buffalo. As this was not instantly complied with, they also seized one or more cows belonging to the other and stronger party. At last an exchange of the animals was agreed to, and the emissaries met and arranged the affairs; but just as they were returning, some of the Puntis, relying on their larger number, fired upon the Hakkas. These, in their turn, attacked the Puntis, and chased them back to their own village (1854:51).

The Taiping "Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace" was announced as the name of the newly established dynasty in 1851 and Hong was named Heavenly King. Two years later the Taipings captured Nanjing and made it their capital. In 1864, with the aid of British- and French-led troops, the Manchus defeated the Taipings (Boardman 1952; Kuhn 1978; Teng 1971). At its height, the movement had involved two million people (Kuhn 1977:351) and left in its wake thousands of uprooted Hakka, many of whom turned to the Basel mission for shelter and support.

An overwhelming number of the Taipings are identified as Hakka (cf. Bohr 1980:135; Hamberg 1854; Kuhn 1978, 1977:350–51; Laai 1950:167–71; Shih 1967:49–50, 305–6; Teng 1971:54–55). The family members and friends whom Hong first converted were Hakka, and the thousands who initially became God Worshipers in Guangxi were primarily Hakka speakers. As Hakka-Punti feuds in Guangxi increased and Hakka homes and villages were destroyed, thousands more Hakka joined the God Worshipers.

Most of the God Worshipers were poor tenant farmers who rented land from Punti landlords. Many of the bandits, pirates, and members of secret societies who were attracted by the God Worshipers' goal of overthrowing the Manchu dynasty were also Hakka. Unemployed Hakka silver miners, charcoal makers, and dockworkers also joined. Among the members were barbers, blacksmiths, and stonecutters—people whose occupations were disdained by Punti and most likely to be held by Hakka (cf. Bohr 1980; Laai 1950; Skinner 1976:351; Teng 1971:19). The Taiping leaders were mostly Hakka farmers. Most members were poor, but a small minority were wealthy Hakka who Laai speculates joined either for protection or in response to coercion by their relatives (1950:69). There were no high officials or officers, no persons of the intellectual class, and no successful candidates in the public examination. High bureaucrats and literati were the enemies of the Taipings. However, the Taipings were not exclusively Hakka. Included in their ranks were "Chuang, Yao and Miao tribesmen" (Teng 1971:55) and true to their "Christian universalism" (Bohr 1980:135) they tried to persuade other minorities and Punti to join their insurrection. This is reflected in a statement Hong made in 1860: "Whether Hakka or Punti, they are all treated alike" (Michael 1966:40, 1971:18).

People joined the God Worshipers for a variety of reasons. Like many converts to Christianity, the earliest God Worshipers became convinced that their bad fortune was connected to the worship of idols and false gods: they believed that by destroying idols and worshiping the one "true God" they would be saved and their lives would improve. Hong's main appeal was that he "promised to rescue the Hakka from the disintegration of South China" (Bohr 1980:136; see also Kuhn 1977). As Li Tsin Kau, a Basel mission Hakka convert, explained it, "When we heard Hong's visions, our hearts fell to him and we thought that our prayers had been answered and that he had been sent by heaven to bring better times" (Basel Mission Archives 1868a, 1868b, 1885).

The Society of God Worshipers became known as "an organization championing the interest of the Hakka people" (Laai 1950:176). As Kuhn argues, the religious doctrines had not taken on political significance in Hong's village near Guangzhou but only in the mountainous regions of Guangxi, because in southern Guangdong there existed a "congruence of ethnicity with settlement and kinship at the basic level of the village," which meant that "no new symbolic structure was needed to express ethnic conflict" (Kuhn 1977:365). In contrast, the "fragmented kinship and settlement patterns in Kwangsi [Guangxi] provided ethnicity no firm social base" (ibid.), and the Taiping religion provided a new organizational framework. In a similar way, Christianity, introduced by members of the Basel Missionary Society, provided an alternative organizational framework that attracted numerous Hakka. Among them were friends and families of the Taipings and the Hakka who later founded Shung Him Tong.

The low social and economic status of the Hakka and their oppression by Punti landlords is a commonly cited reason for why Hakka flocked to the God Worshipers. The society provided food, clothing, shelter, and weapons for its members. The same explanation—Hakka material need or deprivation—is often given for the greater success that Christian missionaries claim to have had among the Hakka than that which they achieved among other Chinese (Breslin 1980; Bohr 1980).

Other scholars have asserted that the Taiping Rebellion had its roots among the Hakka people not so much because of their poverty but because the Hakka "were the social 'out group'," people "without deep social roots" who were "on the whole more independent, daring, and prone to action than were the natives" (I. Hsu 1978:282). The oft-cited "revolutionary" or nationalistic character of the Hakka is also said to explain the part the Hakka played in the Taiping Rebellion and later in the nationalist revolution (Luo 1933:9).[11]

The Hakka were acknowledged to be revolutionary in character. After the Manchus conquered China most of the guest settlers did not surrender for a long time, and were said to be the last to bow down to the conquerors. Full of nationalistic sentiment, they felt strongly hostile towards the Manchus and desired to restore China to Chinese. With this background it is no wonder that Hung Hsiuch'uan [Hong Xiuquan] became the leader of the Taiping Rebellion and that Dr. Sun Yat-sen became the 'father' of the Republic of China; both were Hakkas (Teng 1971:19; emphasis added).

Some scholars have criticized the Hakka assertion that there is a "causal relationship between the character of the Hakkas and the rebellious or revolutionary activities in which they participated" (Shih 1967:306). But like many Hakka with whom I spoke, Shih considers attention to Hakka culture useful in establishing their contribution to Taiping ideology. Both Bohr (1978, 1980) and Shih ask what influence Hakka beliefs and customs had on Taiping ideology and argue that certain Hakka practices and customs were reflected in those of the Taipings. They share the view expressed by one young woman and an older man in Shung Him Tong, that the Taiping policy of egalitarian treatment of women reflects Hakka values.

Many writers have commented on the "unusual" Taiping treatment of women (e.g., Boardman 1952; Bohr 1978; Eitel 1867, 1868, 1869; Hamberg 1854; Laai 1950; Moser 1985; Piton 1873; Shih 1967; Teng 1971). Women could hold the same civil and military positions as men, foot-binding was prohibited, and marriage was arranged by the bride and groom. Men and women were separated during military training. Boardman suggests that "[t]he higher evaluation of female personality (and also the segregation of the sexes) may have reflected the treatment accorded women worshipers by Roberts and by missionaries" who influenced the Taiping leaders (1952:27). Several Hakka informants with whom I spoke, however, assert that the Taiping treatment of women reflects Hakka customs. Hakka women are known for not having their feet bound and for their ability to work as hard as men: "Hakka men and women worked together in the rice fields and fought together on the battle ground" (Teng 1971:19). As Shih explains, "It was natural for the Taipings to prohibit foot-binding, for the Hakka women did not practice it" (1967:226). As I describe in Chapter 6, this image of Hakka women as hardworking and distinct from other Chinese women persists in Shung Him Tong as a symbol of the differences between Hakka and Punti.

The Creation of Hakka Unity

This chapter has described how Hakka historians and European missionaries were both interested in the Taiping Rebellion and shared many of the same views regarding Hakka identity and origins, but for different reasons and with different motives. Missionaries became interested in gaining a better understanding of the Hakka, because it was among these people they sought converts. Hakka historians sought to prove and popularize their own view of their identity through their construction of history. Their position was bolstered by the supporting evidence from missionary historians, while the missionaries—we should not forget—received many of their views from their Hakka contacts.

Nakagawa, a Japanese historian, raises an important issue. He is critical of what he calls the "partnership" between missionaries and Hakka. He argues that following the Taiping Rebellion, missionaries manipulated the "already collapsed" Hakka in order to create disunity among the Chinese, to the advantage of the western powers. Europeans "seduced the Hakka people," praised them "as one of the 'pure and genuine Han peoples' and put the Chinese resistance in disunity" (1975:211). This view is similar to that held by one man in Shung Him Tong who told me "I don't like to talk about Hakka/non-Hakka. This [distinction] disturbed the unification of the Chinese race. This is what the [British] government did, you know, divide and rule."[12]

Colonial governments worked on the principle of "divide and rule," but it is unlikely that nineteenth-century missionaries were entirely aware of the political implications of their work or of the criticism they would face as "handmaidens" of their governments. The explicit and primary motive of the missionaries was to save souls; translating dictionaries and Bibles and studying the culture and history of their subjects were considered first steps in achieving this goal. The words of the missionaries did appeal to the Hakka, but to suggest that they were "seduced" gives them too little credit.

Nakagawa points to the writing of the European missionary George Campbell (1912) as an example of pro-Hakka bias and divisiveness. Interestingly, Nakagawa cites a Chinese translation of Campbell that was published in 1951 by the Perak Public Association of the Hakkas and also in 1923 in Kaying, translated by a Hakka of Meixian district. The Chinese translation differs significantly from the original English text.[13] The original does express Campbell's praise of the Hakka, but not at the expense of the "minority races in the mountainous areas," whom he despised, according to Nakagawa (1975:209). The difference between the Hakka translations and the original demonstrate, however, the way in which missionary writing was used to bolster Hakka beliefs and to convey their own superiority.

With their flattering admiration of the Hakka, Nakagawa writes, missionaries' studies appealed to the pride of the Hakka intellectual class and "encouraged Hakka nationalism" at the cost of unified Chinese nationalism. He accuses Luo and other Hakka historians of "avert[ing] their eyes" from the quintessence of the foreign studies of the Hakka, which created colonial subjugation and thus humiliated them by allowing the Chinese people to sustain domination (1975:211). This view was shared by members of the Hakka student association in Japan who criticized the formation of the United Hakka Association in the early 1920s as "retrogressive" and "divisive" (Leong 1985:312). Hakka "nationalists," however, could respond that they already considered themselves in a situation of colonial subjugation—as did many Chinese—by the foreign Manchu rulers of the Qing dynasty. The awakening of Hakka pride may have furthered the disunity between Hakka and Punti, but it could also be defended as a step in the direction of asserting their Han Chinese identity—an essential step in creating Chinese national unity.

Just as the Taiping association enabled the Hakka to rebel against the Manchus, to protect themselves against the Punti, and to assert their claims of being Chinese, so did the Hakka utilize ideas and institutions of the missionaries that they considered beneficial. Hakka writers utilized foreign studies that supported the notion that the Hakka were Chinese of northern origin. On a practical level, Christian missions provided opportunities for escape from post- Taiping oppression, for education and upward mobility, and—as with the Society of God Worshipers—for protection, shelter, food, and medical care for the poor and sick. The fact that the Basel missionaries knew something about the Hakka, including their language and aspects of their culture, and that they welcomed the Hakka and even admired them, must not be underestimated.

After the Taiping Rebellion, joining the Basel mission became a way to remain Hakka and to be with other Hakka. According to one man from Shung Him Tong, he was grateful to the Basel missionaries because they helped create a unified, standardized "beautiful Hakka church dialect" drawing from the Baoan and Meixian dialects, so that all Hakka could communicate with one another. The missionaries also contributed to Hakka's transformation into a written language, another issue of Hakka pride. In different ways, both European missionaries and Taipings provided ideological support of Hakka identity and origins that played an important role in attracting converts.

As I discuss further in Chapter 6, Luo's concern with being Hakka and Chinese and Christian epitomizes the position of many Hakka of his generation in Shung Him Tong. Hakka such as Luo, Hsieh Ting-yu, and other members of the Hakka association and the Hakka church did not consider themselves passive actors, manipulated and dominated by the Chinese imperial government on one side and the European imperialists and missionaries on the other. Instead they depicted themselves as "true believers," a pragmatic group of people struggling for respect and an improved way of life. Envisioning themselves as Han Chinese rather than tribal or non-Chinese barbarians was a way for the Hakka to assert superiority over non-Han and to view themselves as equal—if not superior—to other Chinese. Christianity was one means by which they reached this goal.

As did the Society of God Worshipers, the Basel mission Hakka church became a vehicle through which Hakka identity could be maintained, imagined, and articulated in positive ways. Joining the church became a strategy for escaping oppression without giving up Hakka identity. The Society of God Worshipers, like the Hakka churches in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, went beyond lineage organization in expressing the common interests of the Hakka by providing the organizational structures that helped bring together those who became influential in the invention and articulation of Hakka identity.




Notes:

1. "Min" is the term used to refer to the "minnan" languages of Fujian. "Yue'' is the term used to refer to the Cantonese dialects.

2. Lechler (1878) and Luo Xianglin (1933) assert that "Hakka religion" is no different from that of other Chinese. This supports Luo's underlying point that Hakka are Chinese. Eitel (1867, 1868, 1869) and Bohr (1980) suggest some differences including a tendency toward monotheism, less emphasis on the worship of state-sanctioned deities, and less emphasis on Buddhist than Taoist beliefs. These observations do not suggest the existence of a "Hakka religion" but instead are likely to point to some of the vast regional differences in "Chinese religion." Certain aspects of Hakka ancestor worship do seem to differ from other Chinese groups. See Chuang (1990) for a comparison of Hakka and Hokkien ancestor worship in Taiwan, and E. Johnson (1992) for a comparison of Hakka and Punti ancestor worship in Hong Kong.

3. As described in n. 6 below, linguistic sources I have found do not support the idea that Hakka is closer to Mandarin than Yue or Min, yet this view is still popular among most Hakka. As one Hakka member of the United States Hakka Federation recently wrote to me in a letter, "Chinese linguistic experts have proved that Hakka dialect was ancient Mandarin. While Mandarin in Central China has changed ... the Hakka dialect did not change because they lived in remote places and had few contacts with other people."

4. The exact dates of the five migrations vary from source to source. Leong places the first migration at 317-874 A.D. , the second at 874-1276, the third at 1276-1682, the fourth at 1682-1867, and the fifth beginning in 1867 (1980:6).

5. European missionary Charles Piton also argued that Hakka have been immigrants

only since the end of the Chang Dynasty, when, for a period of 53 years, there were not less than 13 emperors of 5 different dynasties who consecutively had an ephemeral sway over China. During those times of trouble a great number of Chinese emigrated into the South, which being more remote from the scene of the struggles, enjoyed a comparative state of peace; and the descendants of these emigrants are the Hakkas of today (1873:225-26).

6. Hashimoto writes that the Hakka assertion of their origins in the Central Plains of China is "largely supported by various historical as well as linguistic evidence" (1973:1). See also Moser (1985), Sagart (1982), and P. Yang (1967). Norman (1988:222) and Ramsey (1987:111) identify Hakka as part of the "southern group" of Chinese languages because, although there are some unmistakably northern features, they consider Hakka to be more closely related to the other southern dialects around them. Norman says that the fact that Hakka language belongs to the "southern group" indicates that "these [Hakka] dialects have developed from a variety of Chinese that has been present in South China since Han and Sanguo times (first to third centuries AD)" (1988:222). Norman's linguistic evidence suggests an even earlier migration than Luo's earliest wave, one that is more compatible with what Hsieh and Eitel classify as the first period of migration. As Ramsey and Norman explain, the assertion that one often hears among Hakka, that their language is closer to Mandarin than is Cantonese, is not supported by linguistic studies.

7. An overwhelming amount has been written on the Taiping Rebellion. For a historical analysis of the Taiping, see Kuhn (1978). For material on the documents of the Taipings, see the monumental collection translated by Michael (1966, 1971). For a collection of early English-language documents about the God Worshipers and the Taiping Rebellion, see Clarke and Gregory (1982). For more on Hong, the leader of the Taiping Rebellion, see the Basel missionary Hamberg's biography of Hong (1854) as told to him by Hong's cousin. For a closer look at the religious issues and beliefs of the Taipings, see Boardman (1952), Bohr (1978), Wagner (1982), and Shih (1967). See Boardman (1962) and Newbern (1953) for a discussion of the millenarian aspects of the Taiping Rebellion, and Smith (1976) for what became of some Taiping "family and friends." Teng (1962) reviews key books and articles written about the Taiping Rebellion by Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Russian authors.

8. According to Luo, Sun Yat-sen was Hakka (1933: chaps. 7, 8; 1965:388-96). This point has been questioned by Tan (1963, cited in Erbaugh 1992). Sun came from a family that considered itself Cantonese, in "a county where Hakka nearby were looked down upon" (Moser 1985:247). According to Moser, when Sun opposed the binding of his sister's feet, his mother responded, "Would you have her as a stranger [Hakka] or as one of us?" (Linebarger [1925] 1969, cited in Moser 1985:247). Sun also is said to have learned of the Taiping Rebellion from an old Hakka man who had participated in it and who spoke Hakka fluently (Moser 1985:247). According to one Hakka informant in the United States, "It is a well established fact that Dr. Sun Yatsen was a Hakka.... Dr. Sun Yat-sen himself said he's Hakka."

9. Teng (1971:49) puts the number of converts at almost two thousand, while I. Hsu (1978) estimates the figure to be over three thousand. At its height, Kuhn asserts that the Taiping movement numbered about two million (1977:351).

10. Yu (1987) notes that Ling Kai Lin, the founder of Shung Him Tong, is reputed to have told his grandson, who then told Luo Xianglin, that he was baptized by Hamberg along with Hong Xiuquan. This is unlikely, but it is possible that Ling was baptized with Li Tsin Kau or possibly Hong Rengan.

11. The Taiping Rebellion is now hailed as an early display of Chinese, not Hakka, nationalism, and as a precursor of the Chinese Revolution, which was strongly opposed to foreign interference and domination. Teng refers to the Taiping as "a gigantic ethnic movement to overthrow the foreign Manchu dynasty," but he uses the term "ethnic" to refer to Chinese, not Hakka (1971:vii).

12. An attempt to minimize the distinction between Chinese subethnic groups in order to unify the Han Chinese majority is evidenced in the government policy of the People's Republic of China. There, Mandarin—the native language of an estimated 70 percent of mainlanders—has become the national language. The "national minorities" are displayed as the exotic "other" in contrast to the unified image of Han Chinese, which includes the estimated Hakka population of thirty-five million. In an attempt to reinforce the solidarity of the Han Chinese, as Erbaugh has observed, Chinese publications rarely mention whether a person is Hakka, although Hakka represent a disproportionately high number in the Chinese government (1992).

13. The translation into English from the Chinese version that Nakagawa used reads:

The Hakkas are surely a branch of the people of the Middle Field, and quite a characteristic, robust, and outstanding one, at that. The fact that their progenitors, although compelled to migrate, came from the Middle Field can be ascertained by the following evidences: their respect for their own stock; their high morale as warriors; their deserving self-reliance. Mark my words, the

Hakkas are sure to intensify their influence in due course of development and to exalt the people of China (Nakagawa 1975:209).

The original source reads quite differently:

The Hakkas are certainly a very distinct and virile strain of the Chinese race. The circumstances of their origin and migrations go far to account for their pride of race and martial spirit. Probably they never had the custom of foot-binding. It is safe to predict that Hakkas will play an increasingly important part in the progress and elevation of the Chinese people (Campbell 1912:480).

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