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Hakka Folktale Songs
Hakka Folk Songs
Chinese have old and established terms for songs and other rhymed
literature. It is hard to find folk songs from other ethnic groups in
China, but the Hakka seem to be the exception. Indded, the Hakka are
famous everywhere for their love of singing. Most famous are their
"Mountain Songs" (shan ko) which are traditional in melody and in
structure, but can be newly created at any time. Every year, there are
folk songs competitions among the Hakka in Taiwan which attract many
poetsand listeners. But apart from these traditional Mountain Songs, the
Hakka also like to sing standard folk songs.
Hakka singing is a group affair and it is most widely spread in compact
rural settlements and not so popular in cities in which Hakka live
together with other ethnic groups.
(It will be interesting if some one could translate the following
folk songs into Hakka dialect.)
"The moon is shining,
the hsiu-ts'ai rides on a white horse
over the lotus dike.
On the lotus dike
he plants leek
when the leek is in blossom
he will marry"
NOTE: hsiu-ts'ai= a graduate from the old examination system
The moon is shining.
On the back of the pine tree (forest?)
the goose carries water,
the duck washes vegetables,
the cook grinds grain,
the dog steps in the pestle
the fox makes fire,
the cat fries food,
the tiger goes into the mountain,
(and) drags down firewood;
the hen cares for the house,
carries home my little sister."
The moon is shining,
it is time to plant ginger.
The ginger gets eyes,
it's good to plant bamboo.
The bamboo grows sprouts,
it's time to plant cane.
The cane grows high,
the children drag on towards school.
Grandfather curses (them),
curses so that his beard gets all disorderly.
Grand mothe scolds (them),
so that her face is all swollen.
The moon is shining, / it's time to plant ginger.
The ginger grows eyes, / it's time to plant bamboo.
The bamboo grows flowers, / it's time to plant melons.
The melons aren't yet big, / he picks and sells them.
Sells them for two dollars.
(He) learns to whip up cotton, / (but) the tread breaks.
(He) learns to make bricks, / (but) the bricks break to pieces.
(He) learns to forge iron,/ (but) the iron gets black.
(He) learns to kill a pig, / the pig can run away.
(He) learns to kill a dog, / the dog can bite.
(He) learns to kill a cat, / the cat can whirl around.
(He) learns to kill a bird, / the bird can fly away.
(He) leans to kill a turtle, / the turtle can crawl.
(He) leans to kill a goose, / the goose shakes its wings.
Firefly (ying2 huo3 chong2)
Firefly / chirping, chirping insect.
Every night, / turns on its lantern.
The lantern shines, / lights all up.
All is dark, falls into ditch.
In the ditch is a needle.
I take it, give it to Kuan-yin.
Kuan-yin smiles lightly.
(I) throw the oracle beans.
they separate in falling.
Protect my old loved one (i.e., mother)
The beans fall down with noise.
Protect my old uncle.
The beans stand upside.
Protect my wife.
Studies In Hakka Folktales
by Wolfram Eberhard
edited by Professor Lau Tsu-k'ang.