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Re: hakka: Dr. Lau ChunFat's paper
Dear Dr Lee,
Thank you for letting us review the paper by Lau & Chow. It is truly a
commendable effort in synthesizing all the available materials on the subject
of Hakka. Has this paper been published in a reputable journal?
I am not an anthropologist or a social scientist, but I would like to comment
on the paper. My impression after reading the paper is that the Chinese people
started North in the central plains. Different groups of Chinese then migrated
South at different time points, using different pathways. This allowed
divergent evolutions of dialects and customs separated by time and space. They
then meet in South China, ascribing different identities to each other and
fighted with each other for survival.
The Central theme of the Hakka belief system that they originated North and
migrated South remains valid, as is their claim that they descended from the
Chinese who once populated the central plain, the cradle of the Chinese
civilization. I don't think it is correct to describe these as myths. The
Hakka claims do not automatically deny other Chinese dialect groups from
sharing the same heritage. In contrast, cultural "myths" are oral histories
which are extraordinary, such as the Chinese as a race descended from
amphibious beings from pre-history. In other words, myths are beliefs which
become distorted through time, and are often irrational in nature. To call the
Hakka beliefs mythic is tantamount to saying that the Hakkas lied deliberately
so that others would respect them.
It is unrealistic to assume that the present day northeners are the same
Chinese who were there 2 thousand years ago. They might well have good doses
of Manchu and Mongol bloods. Thus, using biological materials from northeners
today as yardsticks may not be justified. The interpretation of biological
evidence is full of pitfalls, but the only reasonable conclusion is that the
Cantonese and Hakka share the same biological heritage, and that the
Northeners are probably different.
On another note, [….. if we find that the Bible contains obvious flaws, then
it would be hard for anyone to preach.] This is a bad analogy. This is not a
forum to discuss religion but indeed modern biblical scholars have found
countless inconsistencies and contradictions in the bible (read Gospel Truth?
by Graham Stanton).
I am not convinced that the Hakkas had confabulated their origin. The drive to
cultural preservation stems from a sense of pride. Tell the Jews that they are
not the "Chosen people", they will wonder why their God created the world.