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Hakka Folktales (3)
Hakka Folktales (3)
Why Can Hakka Girls Sing Mountain Songs?
Formerly there was a Hakka who was governor of Kuang-tung province. He
had money and power, and at that time he could get whatever he wanted to
get. In spite of that he never married three wives or four concubines, but
lived very well with his old wife.
I have heard that came about because in his youth he had been very poor,
and because his wife had suffered the poverty together with him, had
earned money so that he could study. When he later had become a high
official, he never forgot the good heart of his wife of his former years.
This tells us about the origin of the equality of love of the Hakka
women, but it also tells how the equality of sexes among Hakka girls and
boys had its origin, and that it is not a hollow word, but that the women
with both feet on the ground carry on the problems of the family together
with the men. And because hakka women can live without men, they are not
afraid if the men cheat upon them--they just cannot cheat them. Hakka
girls have courage to take their fate into their own hands and sing it
openly out in their "Mountain Songs."
The Hakka are people who had to flee from supression, and their
surroundings are all poor, and so they all have to endure together. If
one has to suffer, the others will help him, and so the Hakka girls work
just as their men do; in contrast to other women, the Hakka women have as
the first ones gained their position, and so they also sing songs which
the others do not sings.
Told by a 47-year old farm wife in Miao Li, Taiwan.
When Hakka express their pride in their customs and traditions, they do
this explicity or implicity to indicate their feeling of superiority over
the majority group in Taiwan, the Min-nan people who, in turn, look down
upon the Hakka. The tension between both groups in former times often
broke out in fights which were celebrated in stories. Many of these tales
center around a temple built in the center of the Hakka settlement area
in northern Taiwan, and commemorate the death of many Hakka in these
fights. The main temple, mentioned in the text below, has several branch
temples and the festval which is held on the 18th to 20th of the seventh
month is celebrated in many Hakka settlements around that time.
The following text also alludes to the action of the Japanese colonial
government which tried to eradicate the cult. There are other Hakka
heroes who lost their lives in fights against the Japanese, and temples
to commemorate them can also be called "I-min miao"(Temple of the upright
Temple of the Upright People
This story begins with Coxinga. Coxinga was a man from Fukien, and when
he had taken Taiwan and unified Taiwan, the Hakka came from Kuangtung to
Taiwan. Therefore, the Fukienese lived in all the big places in Taiwan.
Seventy or eighty years ago (This book was published in 1974), there were
numerous encounters between the Fukienese and the Hakka, with many dead
on both sides. This happened near Hsin-p'u in Hsin-chu district, and
there the temple became the cultic center of the Hakka. Everywhere, where
there are some Hakka, there is a Temple of the Upright People. The place
where the story took place is near the temple in chu-pei. At the time of
Japanese rule, there was in the administrative center a plaque, which is
now in the temple.
The fights between the Fukienese and the Hakka caused heavy losses on
both sides. So many that they had to transport the dead on Ox carts, and
the man in charge burned incense and told the dead: "Let the cart go
where you want to be buried." and when the cart arrived at the site of
the present district Temple of the Upright People, the oxen did not move
any further. So the people burned incense again and asked the oracle
whether the dead were content with this place, and indeed they were. So
they were buried there, and therefore there is a big tomb behind the
temple. Now, among the corpses on the cart there were also some
Fukienese, but because the corpses were already rotten, one could not
find this out. Therefore, towards the evening, there is always the sound
of fighting in the tomb. So, when the people bring incense to the tomb,
they say to the Fukienese in the tomb, they should obey the Hakka, and
then the fighting stops.
Later there was a big ceremony every year, from the 18th to the 20th of
the seventh month. At the ceremonies, they cook rice for the people, and
if one gives the rice water to a sick person, he will get well.
Therefore, there are always big crowds present at that time. There are
also pig offerings and every year they slaughter more than 1,000 pigs.
Only recently the number of pigs has decreased. (ie right after the
festival of the 15th day of the 7th month and clearly related to this
"Festival of the hungry souls" because the souls of unidentified person
have to become "hungry souls").
An excerpt from:
Studies in Hakka Folktales
by Wolfram Eberhard
edited by Professor Lou Tsu-K'uang.