|6 Transforming Images of the Hakka|
|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
A friend recently sent me a full-page color advertisement for United Airlines. The caption reads, "Going for the green in Hong Kong," and beneath it is a photograph of four people walking across a golf course. The two in the center are clean-cut young men—possibly businessmen, one Asian and one white—dressed in golf clothes. The other two people, one on either side, each pulling a heavy load of golf clubs, are the caddies. But these are not ordinary caddies; they are middle-aged Chinese women wearing baggy black pants, loose dark blue blouses with high collars, and circular flat straw hats with black cloth brims that come down around their faces. Both are stocky and wear sturdy, flat shoes. Far from the common advertising image of women used to sell cars and other products, these women are not meant to be seductive and alluring. Nor do they fit the western or orientalist stereotype of the delicate, submissive, and sexy Asian woman. Instead they are strong, tanned, and hardworking, exotic in a different sense: the stereotypical image of a Hakka woman.
Despite what is often described as a decline in the overt social or political relevance of Chinese ethnic identities in Hong Kong, colorful popular images of each group persist. Certain character traits are thought to distinguish one Chinese ethnic group from another, and few people in Hong Kong would fail to identify the sturdy hardworking women in the advertisement described above as stereotypically Hakka. Among the main features I have heard attributed to the Hakka by both Hakka and non-Hakka are their poverty, their honesty, and their propensity for hard work—especially the women. Even Hakka Christians in Shung Him Tong, who say that distinctions other than that drawn between true believers and nonbelievers are divisive, believe, like many others in Hong Kong, that there are certain character traits that distinguish the Hakka.
I was told by several people in Shung Him Tong, for example, that Hakka may be poor, but they strive for upward mobility; they are honest, hardworking, thrifty, and clean, and they value education. In contrast, they depicted non-Hakka as dishonest, lazy, wasteful, and sometimes dirty. Cantonese were described as generally wealthier than Hakka but also likely to be on an economic decline—particularly Punti families—because they are often lazy, immoral, dishonest, corrupt, and frivolous, and they do not value hard work and education. Chaozhou, who were once poor farmers like the Hakka, are now considered economically successful, but several Hakka in Shung Him Tong said that Chaozhou may be dishonest and corrupt, and that they are far more likely to be involved with drug smuggling and other illegal activities than are Hakka. Cantonese and Hokkien boat people, with whom the people of Shung Him Tong have little interaction, I was told are characterized as dirtier, less intelligent, and less educated than other Chinese. These stereotypes are strikingly similar to those that have been recorded by other anthropologists in other parts of Hong Kong (e.g., E. Anderson 1968:98–99; Blake 1975, 1981:45–88).
It is important to note that many of the stereotypes and negative images presented in this chapter were elicited by specific questions and were not part of everyday casual conversations. Most people in Shung Him Tong consider it un-Christian to cast aspersions on other people, and for that reason a lot of the material on the subject was collected in response to such questions as, who are the Hakka? what are the Hakka like? and how are the Hakka different from other Chinese? Often, the answers I received were phrased in such a way as to distance personal view from popular negative stereotypes: "Many people say that the boat people are …."
Stereotypes, in some instances, contain elements of truth, but often they have little or no basis in fact and cannot actually be used to distinguish members of one group from another. My main objective in this chapter is not to examine these stereotypes in any great detail for the extent to which they do or do not reflect Hakka reality in Shung Him Tong. It should be obvious from the preceding chapters that many of these stereotypes do not represent objective truth.
Here, I am more concerned with stereotypes of the Hakka for what they can tell us about the construction of Hakka, Chinese, and Christian identities.
The people I spoke with in Shung Him Tong, when pressed, admitted that many of the characteristics they assign to themselves may be as appropriately ascribed to a non-Hakka as to a Hakka. It is certainly possible, they agreed, to find thrifty, honest, clean, and hardworking non-Hakka, but those people are thought to display Hakka characteristics. When I asked about a very hardworking Cantonese woman who spoke fluent Hakka, Mr. C. jokingly responded, "Perhaps one of her parents was really Hakka?!" Stereotypes of non-Hakka may also fit certain Hakka individuals. In one conversation Yee Ling reluctantly agreed that it is possible to find a Hakka person who "wastes or squanders money." She looked around the restaurant to make sure no one could hear us talking, and then whispered that there were even young Hakka people in the newer part of Shung Him Tong who spent money on drugs and gambling. But these people, she warned me, should in no way be considered typically Hakka. Although many people I spoke to recognized the possible overgeneralization of their characterizations, on another level they also believed that the qualities ascribed to the Hakka exist as social facts.
In previous chapters I have suggested that Hakka of Shung Him Tong consider themselves at once Hakka, Chinese, and Christian, but that being Hakka does not mean that they share a particular Hakka "culture," Hakka customs, or even necessarily Hakka language. What many Shung Him Tong people do share, including those who I describe in the final section of this chapter as "staunch" Hakka and Hakka "skeptics," is a rhetoric of what it means to be Hakka, a sense that there are certain Hakka values and character traits that are embedded in Hakka history. As I describe in the following section, Hakka Christians of Shung Him Tong have constructed an image of Hakka identity that at once transforms negative characterizations of the Hakka into positive ones, identifies them with the Chinese in general, and corresponds to their image of good Christians.
Poverty, History, and Hard Work
Almost everyone in Hong Kong I asked, whether Chinese or non-Chinese, man or woman, young or old, university professor or street hawker, characterized the Hakka as poor. As one nineteenth-century Basel missionary noted: "If you were to ask a thorough-bred Punti about the character of the Hakkas, he would certainly, in the case of his condescending to acknowledge that he ever heard of such people, turn up his nose and tell you that the Hakkas are quite beneath your notice, that they are a kind of semi-barbarians, living in poverty and filth" (Eitel 1867:81). A young Cantonese schoolteacher explained to me as we rode the train from Tai Po to Fanling that she would not want to be Hakka; they are always poor and therefore must sweat and toil. She pointed to the construction workers and the farm laborers outside the window of the train as if to illustrate her point.
Everyone I asked in Shung Him Tong agreed that the Hakka were once very poor, but also indicated that this is no longer the case. As Ming Lee flatly stated, "Nobody is poor in Hong Kong anymore. Everyone has a place to live, education, and enough food." Nor did the people I asked consider the past poverty of the Hakka something negative. As one older man from Shung Him Tong explained, Hakka people are grateful that they were once poor; it is because Hakka have been relatively poorer on the whole than other Chinese that they learned the importance of thrift, frugality, and a simple way of life. Like many other people from Shung Him Tong, this man cited several members of the community as perfect examples: "Those brothers came from a poor family and that is why they learned to work hard." "His ancestors were poor, so they were forced to work very hard." The Ling, Pang, Cheung, and Tsui families were once poor, I was told, but because of the important Hakka traits that they exemplified they are now economically well off.
Hakka positive characteristics—that they are hardworking, honest, frugal, cooperative, and supportive of one another and have "egalitarian" gender roles—are all believed to stem from the fact that they were once poor. These Hakka qualities, another man explained, distinguish them from other Chinese because they are linked to the hardships, migrations, and poverty that only the Hakka experienced. To Hakka Christians, then, Hakka character is explained as having developed in the past and forms part of the collective Hakka memory. Such ideas about the Hakka are reinforced in the telling and retelling of Hakka, local, and family history. The same idea is expressed in the greater Hong Kong Hakka community. As written in the preface of a history of the International Hakka Association in Hong Kong: "There are several special characteristics of our people…. First is the frugality and industry of our people. Our forefathers could not have possibly survived the difficult times during their migration, had it not been [for] their power to endure the miseries and hardships of life. These fine qualities have now become our heritage" (Aw 1950:1–2). That the character of the ancestors is thought to have become the Hakka "heritage" implies that there are intrinsic characteristics belonging to all Hakka. Because of this legacy from the time of poverty, even people of Shung Him Tong who are now financially well off, I was told, can maintain their wealth because they continue to express Hakka qualities.
In Chinese peasant proverbs, in passages of Confucian texts, and in the words of the people in Shung Him Tong, we find indications that poverty in and of itself is not necessarily considered a negative thing, nor is wealth necessarily good. As one woman from Shung Him Tong said, it is certainly better to be poor and honest than wealthy and dishonest. When Hakka are described by non-Hakka as poor, however, it does seem to carry negative connotations. The quotation from Eitel cited above implies that Punti were contemptuous of Hakka "poverty and filth." In the case of the Cantonese woman I spoke to on the train, poverty is not as distasteful as the idea that it seems endless and inescapable. The reason this young woman did not want to be Hakka was not only that they are poor but that, despite all their hard work, Hakka remain poor and must continue to "sweat and toil." There are other negative implications associated with this image of inescapable Hakka poverty.
One implication is that poverty is the result of human failings. An over-whelming number of the twentieth-century Chinese peasant proverbs compiled by Arkush (1984, 1990) convey the view widely held by people of Shung Him Tong that, "If man works hard the land will not be lazy" (1984:467). Another such proverb states, "Poverty comes, not from eating or clothing, but from inadequate planning" (1990:319). And still another dictates, "If men are industrious at plowing, and women at weaving, there will be enough to wear and to eat" (1990:322). As Arkush argues, very few of the proverbs he found expressed a fatalistic resignation toward poverty. They suggest that with hard work, frugality, cooperation, and "sufficient effort, properly directed, nothing is impossible" (1984:466–67). Thus, the implication of these proverbs is that the Hakka continue to be poor because they do not work hard.
But such is not the case. Hakka are widely reputed to be very hardworking. The Hakka and non-Hakka I spoke to, including the young woman on the train, shared the general perception of Hakka as industrious. If the image of Hakka poverty is not due to lack of effort or skill, then why does it persist?
While few of the proverbs Arkush found express a strong sense of fatalism—that "life is controlled by supernatural forces" (1984:466)—in this case, fate provides a possible explanation. As C. K. Yang notes, poverty is not necessarily considered a sign of moral or ethical failure, but the misfortunes that often accompany poverty may be. In traditional Buddhist thought, Yang explains, extreme poverty and other misfortunes can be ascribed to sins committed by an individual in this life or in a previous life (1961, 152). This implies that alleged Hakka poverty may stem from the moral failure of individuals or of the Hakka as a whole. Confucian doctrine expresses such wisdom in this phrase: "Exert the utmost of human abilities, and then resign the rest to the decree of Heaven." Likewise, "It is up to man to plan things, but it is up to Heaven to decide their success" (C. Yang 1961:273). If one adheres to such beliefs, and believes also that the Hakka are always poor, then it follows that their misfortune stems from their own lack of effort, or from some supernatural cause. As Harrell explains: "Lots of people display the entrepreneurial virtues of hard work, thrift, frugality, moderate risktaking, and an ability to cooperate with and manipulate others, but not all succeed, in spite of these virtues…. When entrepreneurial and moral values fail to explain, fate comes in" (1987:99). If Hakka are poor despite their hard work, then fate, heaven, or some other supernatural cause may be the reason.
All the more insulting to the Hakka than their image of persistent poverty is the implication that the Hakka as a whole—not merely certain individuals—are fated to be poor. Why would such a group of people be fated to always live in poverty? This idea is linked, I suggest, to the ultimate insult: if the Hakka are collectively "not in good grace" or have "failed in their attempts to follow the right path," then they are not good Chinese.
Among many people in Shung Him Tong I found an explicit attempt to combat the negative images of the Hakka. Many people were ready to allay any doubts as to the outstanding moral character of the Hakka by listing numerous examples of famous, wealthy, well-respected, hardworking, patriotic, heroic, egalitarian, and scholarly Hakka from their community and in the broader arena of Chinese history. Most often cited are Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Hong Xiuquan, Deng Xiaoping, Paul Tsui, D. Y. Ling, Luo Xianglin, and Pang Lok Sam, each of whom demonstrate positive Hakka characteristics.
Negative characterizations of the Hakka persist, however. As one Cantonese businessman put it, the Hakka are poor and "don't like to spend money … but unlike other Chinese who are careful with their money, they don't get rich." The implication again is that Hakka express the Chinese virtue of frugality but cannot escape their poverty as have other Chinese. Hakka can list all the famous wealthy Hakka they can think of, but it does not weaken such an opinion. The stereotype of the Hakka as poor is so pervasive that wealthy Hakka are rarely thought of or recognized as Hakka, and Hakka outside of Shung Him Tong with ambitions for upward mobility often prefer not to identify themselves as Hakka.
The descriptions of Hakka character I collected in Shung Him Tong clearly are attempts to construct their identity in opposition to the stereotypes that non-Hakka assign to them. Negative qualities such as poverty and stinginess are transformed into positive characteristics: poverty is honorable, and stinginess is in fact thrift. Each of these qualities stands in contrast to the image the Hakka have of the wealth, laziness, corruption, and immorality of non-Hakka.
As described in Chapter 3, several Hakka Christians I spoke to believed that wealthy non-Christians, particularly the Punti Teng of Lung Yeuk Tau, often lack ethics and self-discipline and are therefore doomed to eventual economic decline. Yet by arguing that they themselves maintain the character of the poor even when their economic situation improves, Hakka Christians imply that they can gain financial success without fear of the inevitable "fall into despair within three generations" attributed to the Punti.
Cantonese—particularly shopkeepers—say that the Hakka do not easily part with their money. They interpret Hakka frugality as miserly behavior. The Cantonese, on the other hand, are characterized by the Hakka as wasteful, as evidenced not only by history but also in their day-to-day life. This is clear, I was told by Mrs. P., from the way the Cantonese throw out the stems of the choisam, a green leafy vegetable, eating only the leaves, whereas Hakka make use of the whole thing. To illustrate Hakka miserliness, "Pui Yan," a Cantonese woman, explained that her Hakka mother-in-law does not open the boxes of sweets she receives as gifts at the Chinese New Year but recirculates them when she goes to visit others. Although there is obviously nothing essentially Hakka or Cantonese about such practices, they are often interpreted as such.
Thrift, like other Hakka qualities, is said to be part of the Hakka heritage. At a restaurant with Pui Yan and her husband, a Shung Him Tong church member, the conversation seemed to follow a well-rehearsed pattern. The husband explained that the Hakka are very careful with their money.
"Stingy and miserly!" Pui Yan jokingly retorted.
He shook his head in disagreement and immediately shifted the conversation to the topic of his grandfather's frugality. As a boy, when he was very poor, his grandfather always carried his shoes to school and only put them on when he reached the schoolyard so as not to wear them out. But when he was older and had become quite wealthy he was known for his generosity and at the Chinese New Year always gave a hundred Hong Kong dollars to each of his many children and grandchildren.
Another commonly cited characteristic of the Hakka is that they are a tight-knit group with a spirit of cooperation and mutual support. As one Hakka woman put it, "Hakka are supportive of one another and they treat each other as brothers." Another Hakka man recently wrote to me that Hakka are famous for their "stubborn resistance" against invaders or oppressors. Most Hakka in Shung Him Tong would agree with a statement in a Hong Kong Hakka Association publication that the Hakka are known for their strong "spirit of unity and solidarity," which grew out of a need for Hakka forefathers to unite "to overcome difficulties and hindrances that lay before them" (Aw 1950:2). The general consensus among people I spoke to in the village is that in the face of nineteenth-century hardships, the Hakka allied themselves with their Hakka neighbors in order to defend themselves against Punti enemies. The famous ongoing feuds in Meixian and Wuhua between Hakka of different surnames, of which I was told in other conversations, were conveniently omitted in the context of this discussion.
Today there are few if any violent feuds or hostile Punti neighbors. (The conflict over the location of the new church is usually presented as either a Punti/Christian one or as an interpersonal one.) But the legacy of the Hakka forefathers is said to live on: because the Hakka were poor, they learned to cooperate. As the church evangelist explained, "Hakka people are very close-knit and very cooperative with one another; they exhibit much brotherly support." What is often interpreted as cooperation and unity by the Hakka implies exclusivity, "clannishness," and hostility to the non-Hakka I spoke to.
As mentioned above, a propensity to work hard is a well-known Chinese characteristic, and an important Hakka characteristic to the Hakka themselves. The Hakka work ethic is reflected in several popular sayings. As I discussed the founding of Shung Him Tong with two older men on different occasions, they both said, "Hakka jim deihjyu," meaning, "Hakka take over and become landlords." Although I only heard this expression from these two men of Shung Him Tong, both insisted that it is the way they are characterized by non-Hakka. With a mixture of pride and modesty, they admitted that it is true. In the words of one of these men, "The Hakka have the reputation of going through China usurping the land from the wealthy landlords and of working very hard." As he explained, this is how the Hakka were able to make their way in Shung Him Tong surrounded by the powerful Punti Teng lineage. Pastor Ling and Pang Lok Sam, he continued, started a mortgage company and gradually bought out Punti property. Like several others, these men contrasted Hakka dedication and hard work with the corruption and laziness that caused the eventual decline of the Teng.
Another popular Chinese phrase one of these men used to describe the Hakka was "Hakka gaang duhk" (lit., "Hakka plow study"), which is an abbreviated version of Hakka yahn gaang tihn duhk syu (lit., "Hakka plow fields and study books"). The Hakka, he explained, were able to get ahead because they could do both. They value hard work, whether it be work in the fields or the work of the scholar. This man, like others from Shung Him Tong, expresses pride in his ancestors for having the foresight to attend missionary schools, work very hard, and escape their poverty.
It has been well documented that Hakka often occupied the poorer, more isolated, and less fertile areas of Guangdong and Hong Kong during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, while the Punti, like the Lung Yeuk Tau Teng, occupied the more productive fertile areas (M. Cohen 1968; Leong 1985). As a result of economic hardships, men from some Hakka villages chose to emigrate southward and overseas to find work, while Hakka women were left behind with the children and the elderly. The women tended the fields and participated in "men's" work (see Pratt 1960). But even in nonemigrant villages, according to one Tsung Tsin mission pastor, Hakka women worked at farming—"hoeing and planting seeds while the men would lead the buffaloes and plow the earth"—and thus earned their widespread reputation for hard work.
As Mr. C. explained, Hakka women are taught that they must be able to adapt to different situations and must work hard. At an early age, women of his generation learned the popular phrase, "Jouhdak gunleuhng, cheutdak tengtong" (Be an official's wife, come out to the drawing room). He interpreted this to mean that "they must know how to be an important official's wife, as well as cook and clean." They should be able to "talk to important guests," and also "know when to leave the drawing room and do hard work." With their reputation for hard work, Hakka women are often held up as exemplars of Hakka character.
Another Hakka man said that Hakka women are better prepared for hard work than non-Hakka women. This view is widely expressed throughout Hong Kong, where Hakka women have a reputation for hard work whether in the fields, on construction sites or on the golf course. Indeed, some non-Hakka farmers are said to have preferred a Hakka wife because they are believed to be more accustomed to hard work. According to Pasternak, whose research was conducted in Taiwan, "Hakka women everywhere enjoy a reputation as exceptional workers. I was often assured by Hokkien friends as well as by Hakka that Hakka women make exceptional wives for that reason" (1983:25).
Less agreement exists on the topic of Hakka men. Two Hakka women, and two non-Hakka women married to Hakka men, told me that Hakka men are lazy compared to their female counterparts. In the words of one young Hakka woman in Shung Him Tong, "There is one thing which is not so good about Hakka culture and that is that the women work harder than the men … but this was in the past." Yee Ling was not convinced that it is a thing of the past. She complained that her father wanted to be treated "like a king" and was too lazy to put toothpaste on his own toothbrush, let alone polish his own shoes. I found among Hakka men in Hong Kong, as Pasternak found among Hakka men in Taiwan, disagreement with the idea that they "spend a lot of time sitting around talking while their wives do all the work," although they are the first to agree that "their women are among China's most industrious" (1983:25).
The high rate of male absenteeism in many Hakka villages might explain such characterizations of Hakka men and women as that written by a nineteenth-century European traveler in Guangdong: "It seems to be mainly the women who do the hard work. They do not bind their feet … [and] are strong and erect…. [T]he women do all the carrying and heavy work. The men do not even know how to carry water—and probably do not demand that the women give them lessons at it" (In Aijmer 1967:75–76). Eugene Anderson was also told that Hakka "women work while the men sit and sing" in the Castle Peak area of Hong Kong where he conducted research. His explanation is that the men "once had to spend much of their time on guard against attacks, and left gardening and other such work to the women. Now, of course, both sexes work" (1968:98).
Most of the Hakka men I asked in Shung Him Tong insist that they are as hardworking as women, with the exception of "Heung Yee," a Hakka Christian in his forties who said that the one "really terrible thing about Hakka culture" is the way they treat boys: "Hakka spoil boys and give them everything…. It is well known that Hakka women are strong and hardworking. They have to be because the spoiled boys won't do any work. The men are so spoilt that the women have to do everything." All the boys from the village where he grew up go to the United Kingdom to be cooks, and "when they come back to Hong Kong they are lazy." Now when he returns to that village the old people there say to him, "You know why you grew up to be a good son? Because you were poor." It is important to note in this case that most members of the village where he grew up, including the "lazy young men," were not Christian. Heung Yee disagrees in part with their explanation. He and his brothers are successful, he says, partly because their parents raised them as Christians and taught them to respect hard work and education. While many Hakka will claim that whether they are rich or poor, male or female, there is seldom a loafer among them, according to one Christian Hakka man; Christianity provides further assurance that Hakka people will stay on the right track.
Related to their ability to work hard is the reputation of Hakka women for never having practiced the custom of foot-binding. The practice of foot-binding was a symbol of female subordination reflecting a woman's virtue and the moral standing of her family. It was a sign of high status—evidence that women did not need to partake in physical labor and rarely left the house. Although foot-binding was at first limited to elite families, by the nineteenth century it was a widespread practice among nonelites as well, with the exception of Hakka women and women in some of the tea- and silk-producing regions of southern China (Anagnost 1989:330). Yee Ling, Mr. C., Mr. P., and other Hakka I spoke to claim—and missionary sources also document—that regardless of their economic or social class, Hakka women's feet were never bound, "even if they were daughters of officials." According to one Hakka man in his seventies, "The other Chinese bound women's feet because they wanted to keep them in the house" and also, he grinned, "because it made women walk in a way which is very charming." But even if a Hakka family rose to a position of wealth and power, Hakka claim, daughters were still not required to bind their feet.
In the early twentieth century, condemned as morally reprehensible, foot-binding became a symbol of the oppression and exploitation of women and of all the ills of Confucian society. Although the Hakka practice of not binding women's feet has obvious practical implications, two people from Shung Him Tong claimed that the Hakka refrained from practicing foot-binding on moral grounds. Twentieth-century Hakka historians such as Luo have helped popularize the Hakka claim that they were the first to oppose foot-binding and to treat women as equals on ethical rather than practical grounds. The fact that Hakka women's feet were never bound has now become a part of the rhetoric used to support the idea that Hakka were ahead of their time and have "always treated women as equal." The official Chinese policy regarding foot-binding one man told me, was inspired by the Hakka. It is also commonly known that the Taipings condemned foot-binding and allowed women in positions of leadership.
In a folk narrative entitled "Why Can Hakka Girls Sing Mountain Songs?" told to Eberhard in Taiwan in the 1970s, a forty-seven-year-old Hakka woman recounted the story of a wealthy governor of Guangdong province who could afford to have whatever he wanted: "In spite of that he never married three wives or [had] four concubines, but lived very well with his old wife." The narrator explained that the man and his wife had "suffered the poverty together" and she had helped earn money for his studies. He never forgot what she had done. As the narrator explained,
This legend reflects Hakka pride at being "the first ones" to "gain the [higher] position of women" and stresses the point that the position of women is directly linked to their hard work and economic contributions to the family. It also reiterates the point that although most Hakka start out poor, when they become wealthy they still remember what it was like to be poor and for that reason they are better people of higher morals.
Although the people of Shung Him Tong take pride in the idea of Hakka gender equality, several young women pointed out to me that common practices in the church community do not substantiate this stereotype. As noted in Chapter 4, women appear on the surface to have equal roles in the church—there are always the same number of men and women who officiate, usher, and take collections at the Sunday service, and there are equal numbers of men and women on the church board. But those who are commemorated and best remembered are often men, and men are thought to be far more influential. In practice, like the "official's wife" described above who must cook and clean and be a good conversationalist with her husband's guests, women in Shung Him Tong perform many more of the "service" roles for the church, such as translating, teaching Sunday school, evangelizing, and working as secretaries.
Cantonese women have the reputation, I was told by a young woman in Shung Him Tong, of being among the most attractive and delicate of all Chinese women. Physical attractiveness—often symbolized by small delicate feet—is not a characteristic commonly associated with the popular image of Hakka women. When another young Hakka woman told me that the last two "Miss Hong Kong" beauty contest winners were Hakka, the statement expressed pride as well as her surprise and did not imply that all Hakka women are beautiful. Although people highlight the fact that Cantonese women are weak and frail in comparison to Hakka women, the physique of Hakka women is not portrayed as a positive aesthetic quality but rather as a practical asset.
Hakka are sometimes depicted as having darker skin than other Chinese—an observation used by non-Hakka to support the nineteenth-century claim that Hakka were descendants of hill tribes rather than pure Chinese. The Hakka, however, associate the possible darker skin of some individuals with the extrinsic factor of exposure to sunlight because they spend more time working outside. Conversely, people who work outside are often assumed to be Hakka. Hard work is also used to explain the "looser, more comfortable clothes of the Hakka" and certain culinary differences. "Hakka eat from larger bowls, and eat bigger portions," one Tsung Tsin mission pastor told me, "because they work hard and are very hungry."
Many of the physical stereotypes of Hakka women are in fact more accurate as class or occupational markers than as ethnic ones. Dark skin, comfortable shoes, muscular builds, and the "Hakka hat" are all indications that people do physical labor outdoors, not that they are necessarily Hakka. Common stereotypes found in daily conversation, on television, and in tourist brochures suggest that these images are of the Hakka, and thus reinforce the impression that all Hakka are poor and working class, and that all poor, outdoor workers must be Hakka.
Christian and Hakka Character
As was shown in Chapter 2, foreign missionaries contributed significantly to the debate on Hakka origins and many of them strongly supported the assertion that Hakka were pure Chinese. European missionaries also lent support to ideas of Hakka "high status" origins and provided the organizational structures—educational facilities and occupational opportunities—that facilitated the formation of a Hakka community. Women who had been raised in mission orphanages or educated in mission schools were married to educated Christian men, thus establishing a stronghold of Hakka Christian leadership, households, communities, and future generations of Hakka Christians. From the mission-educated Hakka emerged a Christian Hakka elite of educators and politicians who would certainly not be considered "country bumpkins" by any standards. These were not the only ways in which Christianity supported Hakka claims. In addition, Christian missionaries provided the Hakka with an ideological model through which they could claim moral superiority over other Chinese. As Christians, the Hakka could look on their heathen neighbors with new disdain.
As was discussed earlier, nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries approached the poorest and most marginal members of Chinese society as those most likely to accept Christianity (cf. Breslin 1980). Although in fact a relatively small number of Hakka converted, Hakka were considered likely converts, and as the missionaries got to know them, it seemed to some as though they were better suited to become Christians than other Chinese. Some missionaries believed that there was something in the character of the Hakka that would make them better Christians or more likely to become Christian than other Chinese. As Moser asserts, "Some early Christian missionaries … looked upon the Hakka as candidates for recognition as one of the lost tribes of Israel" (1985:236). Many Hakka Christians today also perceive of themselves as the "chosen" people among the Chinese, a view which many believe the missionaries shared.
Hakka customs and character are now described by some Hakka Christians as though they have always corresponded perfectly with the customs and character of pious Christians. One man's depiction of his ancestors made them appear as though they were in essence Chinese Christians just waiting to be discovered: one might say, proto-Christians. Other people I spoke to thought that conversion to Christianity involved a major shift in values from "uncivilized" paganism to "civilized" Christianity. In either case, the implication among Hakka Christians I spoke to was not only that Hakka make better Christians but also that there are, and have perhaps always been, important similarities between Christian and Hakka character.
Many characteristics that I was told describe the Hakka—such as being honest, hardworking, simple and practical folk—can also be interpreted as Christian or Chinese values. Other features that Hakka Christians described to me as essentially Hakka—such as a moral disdain for begging, prostitution, polygyny, opium smoking, gambling, and foot-binding—are likely to have been invented by Hakka Christians in retrospect, after contact with the missionaries. Although one might argue that some of these "immoral" practices—such as opium smoking and polygyny—might have been less frequent among the Hakka before they converted than among other Chinese, their economic situation was more likely the cause of these "Hakka traits" than pre-Christian piety.
Missionary writings suggest that at least some missionaries became convinced of Hakka superiority. Whether the Hakka convinced them or vice versa, it is clear that the two views reinforced each other. Both assert that Hakka religion was closer to monotheism, that their treatment of women was superior, and that Hakka were more likely to be monogamous than other Chinese. What might have begun as enthusiasm and optimism among European missionaries over their new potential converts gradually became reinterpreted by some missionaries and by the Hakka themselves into reinforcement of their superiority over other Chinese.
Missionaries do not appear to have always categorically considered the Hakka better or more likely candidates for Christianity than other Chinese. But by the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the same optimism that characterized Hamberg's writing about the early Taipings was again evident in European missionaries' descriptions of the Hakka, and they became quite the Hakka apologists. Eitel (1867, 1868, 1869) does not suggest that Hakka "Character, Custom and Manners" are generally superior to other Chinese, except perhaps in aspects of the way they treat women and in the more "monotheistic" tendency of their religious beliefs. Like many others, he found the Hakka poor and very hardworking, but he also said that their homes, temples, and ancestral halls were not as clean as those of the Punti (1867:81). After living several years among the Hakka, Eitel shared the view that the Hakka are "an honest and open-hearted set of people" (1867:82) but that
According to Eitel, the Punti had "intellectual superiority" over the Hakka, and he was frustrated by the fact that Punti "still look down with as much insolence and pride upon us foreigners, as they look down upon those Hakkas" (1867:83).
Another Basel missionary, Lechler, who was "driven out seven times by the Hoklo" before he finally "turned his attention to the Hakka" (Oehler 1922:352), agreed with Eitel's evaluation that "on the whole the Hakkas are not as bigoted as the Puntis" and significantly, "the Gospel has found easier access to them than to the latter" (Lechler 1878:358). Concerning the position of women, Eitel wrote, "To all outward appearance the position of woman seems to be worse among the Hakkas" because she had to do as much heavy outdoor work as men, while Punti women were kept indoors. Non-Hakka women were also more likely to obtain some education and were "cleaner and tidier in their habits" (1867:98). By the end of his discussion, however, Eitel extended his palm to the Hakka because he concluded that "the position of a Hakka woman is certainly more natural and healthy" than those of Punti and Hoklo women, and that they were more likely to have "a happy family life, because it is less hampered by such crying evils as polygamy and female slavery, which nip the growth of affection between man and wife almost in the bud and give little chance for the enjoyment of a quiet and happy home life" (1867:98). But lest he provide too optimistic a view of the Hakka, Eitel also added that the Hakka practice of female infanticide "might appear to justify the imputation of semi-barbarism which Puntis are wont to throw upon them" (1867:98).
Other missionaries such as Lechler and Oehler found the Hakka much more praiseworthy. Oehler observed that "Hakka girls are never sold as second wives or concubines" (1922:352) and that Hakka would rather practice female infanticide—"a custom springing out of the respect in which women are held"—than sell them into slavery (1922:352). To Oehler the Hakka were "healthy, rapidly expanding, active, energetic, and fond of acquiring property. They are a people of the future, unhampered by the prejudices or the easy-going slackness of the old landowners" (1922:352). He also found the Hakka "less clannish" and therefore more approachable by missionaries than either the Punti or Hoklo. These views, significantly, reflect many of the contemporary Hakka characterizations of themselves.
Instead of finding the Hakka less intelligent than the Punti, Oehler, Lechler, and Campbell all remark on the famous Hakka prefecture of Kaying (Meixian), the "abode of scholars, [which] provides the clerks of the court for the majority of the yamens [officials] of China" (Oehler 1922:352). According to Campbell the Hakka had "as high a level of education and culture as can be found in the province" (1912:474). The Hakka demonstrated "political aptitude" and the "military genius of the race" was displayed in their involvement in the Taiping Rebellion (ibid.). Oehler, Lechler, and Campbell, in contrast to Eitel, all mention the extreme cleanliness of the Hakka: "Their custom of daily bathing makes them more cleanly in person … than most Chinese" (1912:473). As Blake has pointed out in his study of the New Territories community of Sai Kung, Hakka songs also seem to have many references to bathing (1975:108). The Hakka greeting, "Have you had your bath yet?" (which is still common in Shung Him Tong and in Sai Kung), reflects their concern with cleanliness and purity. They have also been praised for their "love of liberty" (Campbell 1912:473; Oehler 1922:352).
Like these European missionaries, the Hakka of Shung Him Tong I spoke to believed that the Hakka cherish hard work and thrift, qualities that can be interpreted as both traditionally Chinese and Protestant. Several people expressed the Protestant view that an "[u]nwillingness to work is symptomatic of the lack of grace" (Weber  1958:159), and that poor and hardworking Hakka are far better off than wealthy lazy Cantonese. Their opinions fit well with what Weber wrote in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, that "even the wealthy shall not eat without working, for even though they do not need to labour to support their own needs, there is God's commandment which they, like the poor, must obey" ( 1958:159–60). This does not mean that the Hakka Christians I spoke with believe that wealth is bad in and of itself, only "in so far as it is a temptation to idleness and sinful enjoyment of life, and its acquisition is bad only when it is with the purpose of later living merrily and without care" (ibid., 163). As Mr. P. explained, the poor are far more likely to avoid immoral temptations than the wealthy. In contrast to the relatively ascetic Hakka, non-Hakka are thought to place more value on leisure activities and the conspicuous pleasures of this world that wealth can provide. Several Hakka Christians shared "the highest ethical appreciation of the sober, middle-class, self-made man" that Weber describes ( 1958:163). It is not an overgeneralization to suggest that many Hakka of Shung Him Tong view themselves as sober and self-made, as opposed to the ostentatious, idle, and sinful Punti.
The Hakka of Hong Kong, however, do not share—either among themselves or among outsiders—the popular Hong Kong Chinese or Protestant reputation for business success. Shung Him Tong is considered more "middle class" and educated than most Hong Kong "villages," but it is not known for its thriving entrepreneurial enterprises. Pang Lok Sam's mortgage company, which in its day was fairly prosperous, is rarely spoken of except by Pang's relatives. One of Heung Yee's brothers, a man in his early forties, explained that there are not many Hakka who are famous in business because it often requires immoral or unethical behavior. He expressed the traditional Chinese preference for advancement through academic achievement or government service (see Skinner 1976:343). Like other Hakka Christians, this man explained that in order to be successful in business—as in local politics—one must be willing to be dishonest. The few businessmen of Shung Him Tong, including Mr. P., claimed that being Hakka is in no way an advantage in their work, and to be a good Christian and a good businessman at the same time presents a dilemma. Two men who were not as successful in commerce as they would like to be explained to me that it is because they are good Christians.
Instead of expressing pride in commercial success, the people of Shung Him Tong claim achievements in the fields of education, politics, and civil service—fields traditionally held in high esteem by both the Chinese and the church community. Although the Protestant ethic equates business success with grace and salvation, wealth for the people of Shung Him Tong is often a sign of corruption. They believe and are reassured by the fact that their reward will come later.
The connection between hard work and moral and ethical behavior is clear in depictions of Hakka women. As Mr. C. explained, because Hakka women are not afraid to work hard, they are never prostitutes, or beggars. When I asked him if the old beggar woman who he spoke to in Hakka at the train station was Hakka, he was visibly flustered. On another occasion he had described her black head cloth and woven band as things that only Hakka women would wear. In an attempt to reconcile his statements he said that she is from a Hakka region of China but that her behavior is very unusual for a Hakka woman.
Rather than beg or become prostitutes, Mr. C. also explained, Hakka women prefer to become servants or even construction workers. Hakka from Shung Him Tong often gave credit to a dedicated and hardworking ancestor—surprisingly often a mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother—for his or her conversion to Christianity. One church elder's mother, for example, became a widow when he was eight years old and went to ask the missionaries for work. As the story is told, she was not afraid of hard work so she became their domestic servant. The missionaries realized that she was honest and hardworking, so they taught her about Christianity. This is a common scenario in the biographies of Hakka women converts in the Basel Mission Archives. Work among the missionaries became an important option for widows, female orphans, and unmarried women. People of Shung Him Tong cited many examples of women who were widowed or never married, who went to work for the mission or became Bible women or evangelists. These women are also presented as models of Hakka character.
Gender and the Chinese Work Ethic
Shung Him Tong people believe that Hakka character entails an ethic of hard work, frugality, and diligence that can be rationalized as good Christian behavior. These qualities are also widely described as Chinese by both Chinese and western writers (for sources see Harrell 1985:204–9). In an article that attempts to go beyond this common stereotype of hardworking Chinese, Harrell defines what he calls an "entrepreneurial ethic" widely held by many Chinese, which helps to explain why in practice not all Chinese work hard. Particularly important to the present study is that Harrell's concept of an "entrepreneurial ethic" is not narrowly restricted to those involved in business or commerce but can apply as well to peasant farmers, scholars, preachers, or any other occupation. He writes, "By entrepreneurship I mean the investment of one's resources (land, labor, and/or capital) in a long-term quest to improve the material well-being and security of some group to which one belongs and with which one identifies" (1985:216). In other words, farmers or scholars—including those who enter mission schools—can express an entrepreneurial ethic as well as those involved in marketing and business because they share a common goal: their efforts can directly benefit the long-term interests of their families. This entrepreneurial ethic is future-oriented; its aim is not merely to make quick money but to "to establish hedges and defenses against loss," and thus frugality is also important (1985:216). In contrast to the Protestant attitude that one must work hard only because it is good to work hard, the Chinese attitude, Harrell argues, comes into play "when they see possible long-term benefits, in terms of improved material conditions and/or security, for a group [such as a kin group] with which they identify" (1985:217).
This entrepreneurial ethic was applicable, according to Harrell, to just about every man in traditional China because he could see the clear connection between his hard work and the benefits and security of his family. But in modern capitalist Chinese society there are situations in which an ethic of hard work is not found because, as in a large factory in Taiwan in the 1960s cited by Harrell, workers knew that no amount of effort or hard work would enable them to get ahead.