The Teochew Store Blog / Southeast Asia
The Forest of Miss Tang (陳小姐的森林) is a 40-minute Teochew language animation film produced in France. It tells the story of a Teochew family over six generations in Swatow, China, asking the question, to leave or to stay? The Forest of Miss Tang is the first Teochew language film to be produced in the West. It was broadcast on ARTE channel in Europe on 10 June 2023 and it has since been screened in a number of film festivals around the world.
The Teochew Store managed to speak with the film's director Denis Do, a Paris-born Teochew, to find out more about his feelings towards the Teochew identity and the creation of his film.
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!
A Teochew language short film about a Teochew who left for Siam, returning home after many years.
Lim Ngian Tiong, Nigel, is a veteran Teochew language radio newscaster and teacher in Singapore. He has been actively spreading Teochew language and culture through the radio, opera stage and classroom for half a century.
Coincidently 2023 marks Lim Ngian Tiong’s 50th anniversary as a Teochew language radio newscaster and his 20th year as a language teacher. Lim Ngian Tiong has also served as language instructor and event host for the annual "Lai Bia Teochew Ue" (來拼潮州話) quiz competition for Teochew language enthusiasts in Singapore since 2020.
The Teochew Store had the pleasure of speaking with Lim Ngian Tiong recently to learn about his journey in promoting Teochew language and culture, and to pick up some tips for young people interested in learning to speak Teochew.
潮舖The Teochew Store 特别连线林仰忠先生，请他与我们分享在推广潮语及潮州文化的心路历程，并为有心学习潮州话的年轻人解疑答惑。
"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.
Finding the proper Teochew terms to help 3-year-olds pick up a basic vocabulary in the Teochew language is surely as easy as ABC.
This was what we told ourselves when we set out to create Wa Si Teochew Kia—My First 120 Teochew Expressions Multimedia Flashcards 精选一百二十潮语词语》- 多媒体早教图卡), a set of educational flashcards with animated videos developed specially for babies and toddlers to learn their mother tongue together with their parents.
Then, we came to the word "mother"... Read more about some of the challenging decisions we faced in conceptalising and designing The Teochew Store’s first in-house product, which we realised through the generous funding of more than 100 backers from 14 different countries on Kickstarter last year.
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.”
We are grateful to Jeunes Teochew de France for helping promote Wa Si Teochew Kia – My First 120 Teochew Expressions in the French language on Instagram, as well as Singapore TeoChew Nang SG and Learn-Teochew for kind their assistance on supporting this project on Facebook. They are all actively promoting our Teochew culture and language, so do “like” and follow their accounts as well.
In recent days, we received our first backings from Thailand, Switzerland and Germany. Because of everyone’s support, we have crossed the 90% mark of our crowdfunding (yeah!).
Continue to help us bring this project to life. Please click here.
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.
Escaping Cambodia with five children in the 1970s, a Teochew couple were cruelly separated on the Thailand border. Yet they were miraculously reunited in Canada five years later and after much hard work, eventually came to own a supermarket. Notwithstanding its great distance from Asia, Canada is a gathering point for Teochews who resettled from Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong and China. Let’s watch this video where several of them share their stories and aspirations.
For over 200 years till the mid-20th century, Southeast Asia was the primary migration destination for the Teochew people. However, as the result of various wars and upheavals in the 1970s, tens of thousands of Teochew families in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were forced to resettle again in France. Watch this documentary produced by Shantou Television in 1997 to hear the stories of how these Teochews who arrived in a foreign land as refugees courageously re-established their lives in Europe.
"... so I hope that young people today who have difficulty communicating with their elder relatives will recognise that they can actively do something about it..."
The Teochew Store caught up with Brandon Seah of Learn Teochew (learn-teochew.github.io), an extensive online guide for “heritage speakers”, who have “learned some of the language from their family but who have never studied it formally, and who want to improve their understanding of the language”.
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 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.
2019 is officially the bicentennial year of Singapore. In part two of "The First Teochews in Singapore", we look into the evidences proving a Teochew oral tradition identifying a group of Chinese settled in Singapore before British establishment, as Teochew sojourners from Siam (Thailand), and how an old map of Singapore rediscovered in Scotland pinpoints where they lived by the Singapore River.
2019 is officially the bicentennial year of Singapore, a former British colony and today one of Asia's wealthiest cities.
The island-state is also home to the second largest Teochew overseas diaspora, after Thailand, and up till the mid-20th century a critical node on a trading and migratory network that connected the principal Teochew port of Swatow with key trading centres such as Hong Kong, Saigon and Bangkok. Teochews from Singapore were responsible for the early economic development of Johor, Malaysia's southernmost state whose capital Johor Bahru was once known as "Little Swatow".
What has long been forgotten is that more than half a century ago, the Teochews in Singapore held to an oral tradition claiming that their forerunners were settled in Singapore before Sir Stamford Raffles, the Englishman hailed as Singapore's modern founder, even arrived. If true, this assertion will demand a change in the written history of Singapore.
Starting from this week, The Teochew Store will publish in three parts an in-depth research that sheds light into what this oral tradition says and seeks to verify its authenticity and accuracy.