The Teochew Store Blog / history
Xu Xuanguan and Yang Lianguan were the captain and vice-captain of a Chinese junk that sailed from Siam for Japan in June 1693. However, adverse winds at sea forced them to divert to Teochew prefecture, where they spent the winter. They finally reached Nagasaki port a year after their original departure and gave testimony to a secret that even the Emperor of China was kept hidden from.
Have you ever noticed that our Teochew numbers 1 to 10 sound different, but yet somewhat similar, to the numbers in Cantonese?
What's the story behind? Let's find out!
|1 一||zêg8 (ig4)||yat1||ichi||หนึ่ง nueng|
|2 二||no6 (ji6)||yi6||ni||สอง sawng|
|3 三||san1||saam1||san||สาม saam|
|4 四||si3||sei3||shi (yon)||สี่ see|
|5 五||ngou6||ng5||go||ห้า hah|
|6 六||lag8||luk6||roku||หก hoke|
|7 七||cig4||cat1||shichi (nana)||เจ็ด jed|
|8 八||boih4||baat3||hachi||แปด ppaed|
|9 九||gao2||gau2||kyuu||เก้า gaao|
|10 十||zab8||sap6||juu||สิบ sip|
Teochew Gasig (潮州教室) is an Instagram and Facebook platform that teaches and explains daily Teochew words and phrases in English, Indonesian and Mandarin. Since its inception in 2021, it has built a strong following among young Teochews from many countries.
The founder of Teochew Gasig is Vivian Lee, who lives on Batam Island. What made this member of Generation Z want to promote our ageless and charming Teochew language to other youngsters on social media? Recently The Teochew Store has had the privilege to chat with Vivian to find out about her journey in running Teochew GaSig.
潮州教室（Teochew GaSig ）是一个用英语、印尼语及华语来教授及解释日常潮州词语及短语的Instagram、Facebook账号。自2021年创办至今，深受各国年轻潮州人的欢迎。
居住在印尼巴淡岛的李佳纹小姐是潮州教室的创办人。究竟是什么原因让作为Z世代的她，开始在社交媒体向年轻人推广潮州话这门历史悠久、别具魅力的语言？近日，潮舖The Teochew Store特别连线佳纹，请她与我们分享创办“潮州教室”的心路历程。
A Teochew language short film about a Teochew who left for Siam, returning home after many years.
"Well-built and tall, of white complexion, cheerful and good-looking". These were the descriptions of the physical appearance of the Teochew people given by Adriano de las Cortes, a Spanish Jesuit Father who was shipwrecked in Teochew in 1625.
However, what Cortes wrote about their character is a far less pleasant read: “They are extremely subtle, cunning and deceitful, and they show neither friendship, fidelity, nor compassion to foreigners and, moreover, show very little of it among themselves”. Was he being bias, vindictive or simply giving his true opinions?
Three words that strike fear in every Teochew child: pah ka-ceng 拍尻倉!
Did you know that this was once also a punishment meted out to adults in China? A Jesuit Father, Adriano de las Cortes, learned this shuddering fact, and more, when a shipwreck made him an accidental visitor to the Teochew region 400 years ago.
Wild Teochew, the first ever nature-documentary on wildlife in the Teochew region was officially released in the Teochew language recently. Deng Cueng (丁銓), who hails from Teochew, China, is the documentary’s director, as well as the editor of the photographic collection Historical Photos of Teochew. The Teochew Store had the pleasure of interviewing Deng Cueng to learn about his enthusiasm in promoting the nature and culture of his homeplace and the gains he has received from it.
A thousand years ago our ancestors in Teochew lived together with giants. Giants that weighed four tons, neared three metres in height, had two floppy ears, a trunk and a mammoth appetite.
An entry in the History of Song (宋史), dated 1171, reported that farmers in the Teochew prefecture had to set up pit traps in their fields after hundreds of wild elephants ate their crops. The cause of the conflict was quite imaginably the expansion of human settlements and agricultural activities into the animals’ habitats and stomping grounds. However, the elephants did not withdraw into the forests as a result. Instead, they organised themselves into herds and waited on the roads to ambush any passing cart or horse, which they encircled until the humans collected grain to feed them. To live with nature rather than conquer it was a wisdom our forefathers understood well.
History has a funny old way of repeating itself.
Chen Yaozuo (陳堯佐) was a prime minister and grand tutor of the crown prince of the Song dynasty (960–1279) in the 11th century. Coming from a family of officials, he was a rising star at the start of his career, until he bravely, or some might say foolishly, answered a call of Emperor Zhenzong for open criticisms by submitting a memorial that spelt out the ills of the times, including matters that no one else dared to speak about. As a result, Chen Yaozuo was banished and demoted to become an assistant prefect in the Teochew prefecture. This happened in 998, almost 180 years after Han Yu of the Tang dynasty suffered a similar fate.
Teochew through the eyes of its visitors: Han Yu, the genius who discovered one of life's greatest joys
Have you ever wondered how did our forefathers live 100 years ago, 200 years ago, or even 1,000 years ago?
Our ancestors were a lot of things. Merchants, traders, seafarers, fishermen, agriculturalists, tea connoisseurs, culinary experts, artisans, builders, artists, musicians, poets, etc. But somehow there was not a historian among them. They spent their lives and energies in pursuit of happiness in many ways that today endow us with a rich cultural heritage and identity. Yet, it did not occur to them to document themselves or the world they lived in.
Fortunately, the Teochew region had over the centuries its fair share of visitors, of whom a few were both keen observers and skilled writers.
We begin a new series of articles telling the history and people of Teochew through the eyes of these men and women, with Han Yu (韓愈), a literary genius from the Tang dynasty, who came to Teochew more than 1000 years ago and not only escaped death here, but also discovered here one of the life's greatest joys.
Watch 《百年善纪——纪念潮汕八二风灾100周年》， a four-part documentary produced by Shantou Television to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1922 Swatow Typhoon.
Commentary in Mandarin, with interviews in Teochew and Chinese subtitles.
“When the tidal wave came, the most vulnerable died tragically: some parents who carried several children were forced to let go the daughters to save themselves from drowning. Some mothers carried the babies with them and floated in the water, but the husbands took away the babies in order to save their wives. Some elderly parents could not swim and their sons did not abandon them, and they were all drowned. Some parents could not hold too many children together and they griped the children’s hair and little arms, but when they reached the high grounds, the younger ones had already died. Some elderly parents did not want to burden their adult children and they drowned themselves in order to save the family line. There were couples tied themselves together with strings but they were drowned. After the disaster, some people could not bear the deaths of their loved ones and they committed suicide.”
Did your Ah-ma wear a hair bun like the grandmother character in our Wa Si Teochew Kia—My First 120 Teochew Expressions flashcards?
Until about a couple of generations ago, all married Teochew women did so as a sign of their marital status. Learn more about this tradition that is at least 800 years old!
A gold rush in the 1850s and 1860s brought thousands of Chinese from Guangdong to Australia, including a small number of Teochews. The Land Down Under has today a mix of Teochew immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and China and this documentary produced in 2000 documents their stories. Interestingly, the television crew from Swatow also discovered a place where the Teochew language was widely spoken in Sydney's Cabramatta suburb.
Today's Teochew presence in the United States was largely established after a wave of migration in the 1970s and 1980s. However, do you know that historical shipping records show that about 40,000 coolies were shipped from Swatow to the country between 1852 to 1858, and some of them might have formed their own fishing settlements on the West Coast? Learn about this and various stories of success achieved by the Teochews in America in this documentary produced by Shantou Television 22 years ago.
Watch how the Teochews living in Cambodia in the 1990s, after surviving the devastations of the brutal Pol Pot regime and years of war, devoted their scarce resources towards the education of the next generation.
Thailand has the largest Teochew diaspora in the world, with the size of the community estimated at 5 million in the mid-1990s. This documentary from 1997 by Shantou Television gives a glimpse of the lives of the Teochews in Thailand. (Audio in Mandarin, with some interviews in Teochew).
The following 11 maps of the Teochew region and its counties are taken from the covers from the Volume Four issues of Teochew Home News (《潮州鄉訊》) magazine that were published between February and August 1949.
Map of all counties in Teochew 潮州各縣圖
An animation film telling the history of the Teochew people, directed by a Teochew and dubbed entirely in Teochew language by 3 generations of Teochews living in France. How can you not be EXCITED?!
“The Forest of Miss Tang" (陳小姐的森林) is in an advanced stage of production and it needs funding support to be complete. The project has so far raised over €20,000 through crowd funding, but more support is still needed for it to be better.
The Teochew Store is lending our voice to this fund raising campaign as we believe this is a much worthy cause.
Watch the introduction video of the film by director Denis Do below (in French with English subtitles). To back the production of "The Forest of Miss Tang", click here for the project fundraising page.
The Teochew Store recommends: An Introduction to the History and Culture of the Teochews in Singapore
An Introduction to the History and Culture of the Teochews in Singapore - a rare English language book on Teochew culture. Available for purchase on Amazon.
"Penned in three sections covering a wide range of topics from history and architecture to customs and the performing arts, the 164-page book published by World Scientific is one of the few of its kind in English." - The Straits Times
A review of the book can be read here.
In this concluding part of "The First Teochews in Singapore" series, we find out about the leader of Singapore's pioneer Chinese settlers, whom the Singapore government later appointed as the settlement's first Captain China, as well as the historical links of Wak Hai Cheng Bio (粵海清廟, a.k.a. Yueh Hai Ching Temple) - the oldest Teochew (possibly Chinese) temple here - to two temples in Riau (Bintan) and Bangkok's Chinatown.