Back to My Hometown – Add. Part:
Culture and History of Teochew(Chaozhou)

OK , before we go to the next stop of our tour, Let’s learn some culture information about Teochew. That maybe very funny and useful for you, and I think it’s also very important for myself.

Tea&moon

Brew a nice pot of  Gongfu Tea, enjoy it with the beautiful moon together 😉 (一壶好茶一壶月)~

PS: The information I collected was provided by wikipedia.org

  • Culture

Chaozhou is famously known as one of the great cultural centres in the Lingnan(岭南) region of China. Chaozhou culture is known worldwide as a unique part of world heritage. Down through history, the Chaozhou region, was able to flourish and thrive as a prosperous cultural centre enabling the nourishing of a unique and distinctive character epitomized in the Chaozhou Dialect, Chaozhou opera, Chaozhou cuisine, Chaozhou Ganghu tea, Chaozhou music, and Chaozhou embroidery.

Chaozhou Dialect (潮州話)
, by which the Chaozhou culture conveys, is considered as one of the oldest Chinese dialects for it preserves many elegant and refined features from ancient Chinese that have been lost in some of the other modern dialects of Chinese. It is spoken by about 10 million people in local Chaozhou and approximately 2-5 million overseas.

After I left hometown and lived in Canton, I feel very proud of Chaozhou Dialect. Not only it is an impossible for people from none-Teochew speaking area :mrgreen: , but for our strong union of Chaozhou folks.

Chaozhou opera (潮劇) is a traditional art form which has a history of more than 500 years and is now loved by 20 million Chaozhou natives in over 20 countries and regions. Based on the local folk dances and ballads, Chaozhou opera has formed its own style under the influence of Nanxi Opera. Nanxi is one of the oldest Chinese operas that originated in the Song Dynasty. Its tunes are graceful and pleasant, full of local color. The old form of choral accompaniment still remains its special features. Clowns and females are the most distinctive characters in a Chaozhou opera, and fan-playing and acrobatic skills are more prominent than in other types of performances.

About Chaozhou opera, I have to be shame on myself. When I was a child, I hated it so much that when grandma or mother come to watch Chaozhou opera I would run away from them. Only because the people on the stage always speaking very slowly and senselessly.:neutral: But Chaozhou opera is not just so boring of course. In fact Chaozhou opera contain many history and literary treasure that deserved to be carrying on from one generation to another.

tea1

Gongfu tea (工夫茶), the ‘espresso’ of Chinese teas with a formidable kick, which was first sipped back in the Song Dynasty, is still flourishing and remains an important part of social etiquette in Chaozhou. If you visit a family, you can be sure of at least one round of Ganghu tea. Though it tastes bitter when it first reaches your mouth, it is the lingering aftertaste that makes Ganghu tea probably the most charming tea culture in China. Drinking Ganghu tea is in fact a process of aesthetics rather than a solution to thirst.

tea2

Gongfu tea was so well-known that when people talk about Chaozhou, Gongfu tea must be referred. The approach of making a spot of good Gongfu tea is very complex that even I was a Teochiu I still can’t master it very well. So brewing Gongfu tea is a kind of art, very graceful and beautiful. But it was also favoured by folks, a part of routine of normal people’s lives.

At the local teahouse, tea service is often accompanied with Chaozhou music (潮州音樂). String music, the gong and drum music, the ancient music of set flutes are the traditional play forms of Chaozhou music. Chaozhou string music is made up of mostly plucked and bowed string instruments, and on some occasions, wind instruments are used. The most characteristic instruments are the rihin (二弦), tihu (提胡) and yahu (all two-stringed bowed lutes), the sanxian, pipa, ruan, guzheng, and yangqin. The number of instruments and performers in the ensemble is flexible and depends on the availability of instruments and musicians to play them – but to have an even and balanced texture only one of each instrument is preferred. Chaozhou drum music includes the big drum and gong, the small drum and gong, the dizi set drum and dong and su drum and gong ensembles. The current Chaozhou drum music is said to be similar to the form of the Drum and Wind Music of the Han and Tang Dynasties. The Chaozhou guzheng (潮州古筝) is also regarded as a major member of the southern guzheng family.


  • History

In 214 BC, Chaozhou was an undeveloped and named part of Nanhai Commandery (南海郡) of the Qin Dynasty. In 331 during the Eastern Han Dynasty (東汉), Haiyang (海陽縣) was established as a part of Dongguan Commandery (東官郡).

Dongguan Commandery was renamed to Yi’an Commandery (義安郡) in 413. The commandery became a prefecture in 590 in the early Sui Dynasty; first as Xun Prefecture (循州, Xunzhou), then as Chao Prefecture (潮州, Chaozhou) in the following year. In 1914, the Republic of China government combined Chao and Xun prefectures into Chaoxun Prefecture or Chaoxun Circuit (潮循道).

For a short while in the Sui and early Tang Dynasties, Haiyang District was called Yi’an District (義安縣). The name remained Haiyang until 1914, when it was renamed to Chao’an County (潮安縣) to avoid ambiguity with the Haiyang County of Shandong Province.

The seat of the 1951 Guangdong People’s Government was at Chao’an County, a part of it was created as Chao’an City in 1953 and later that year renamed to Chaozhou City (county-level). In 1955, the provincial seat moved to Shantou. Chaozhou City was abolished five years later, and reestablished again in 1979. In 1983, the situation was reversed, with Chao’an abolished and made a part of Chaozhou City. Chaozhou was made a provincially-administered city in January 1989, and a vice-prefecture-level city in January 1990. In December 1991, Chaozhou was further upgraded into its current statue of prefecture-level city.

Together, Chaozhou and the nearby cities of Shantou(汕头) and Jieyang(揭阳) are called Chaoshan. The name was used for the joint political-administrative area which encompassed the three cities from 1958 until 1983. For the next five years, Shantou City was a higher-level city containing Chaozhou and Jieyang within it. Currently, Chaozhou, Shantou and Jieyang are equal in status.

Apr 7th, 2009 | Posted in Tour
  1. Apr 7th, 2009 at 21:30 | #1

    So long~

    Head

    you are formidable~

  2. Apr 7th, 2009 at 21:52 | #2

    @Gyrate – I think this reading is good for me.Thanks for reading it with me~

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