The Teochew Store Blog / Swatow
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.
As the result of torrential rains on 29 and 30 August, extensive areas in the Teochew region were afflicted by floods. In some worst hit parts in Teoyor (潮陽 ) and Pholeng (普寧) districts, water-levels reached up to 2 metres and entire towns and villages were covered under water. Watch the Gaginang spirit in action as communities across Teochew mobilised themselves wasted no time to step forward selflessly evacuate and provide relief to tens of thousands of families trapped by the deluge. Teochew nang, Gaginang!
The first made-in-Teochew movie to be screened soon nationwide in China in recent times. Video uploaded for entertainment purpose.
Spoken Teochew is both ancient and at the same time evolving, just like any other "live" languages. The Teochews settled in the Malay-speaking world covering Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have absorbed not a small number of native expressions into their daily vocabulary. Here we present a list of over 50 expressions.
Thailand, also known in the past as Siam, was the first stop of the Teochew during a series of migratory waves from the 18th to 20th century. Bangkok today has by far the largest Teochew community anywhere outside China.
Here we have a list of 181 Teochew loanwords found in the Thai language.
汕头橄榄台 is an app produced by the Shantou Radio and Television Station (STRTV, 汕头市广播电视台). It serves as a platform to access local news on official announcements, current affairs, food and other activities. Both iOS and Android versions of this app can be downloaded for free from its official site
Theng Hai (variant: Tenghai) (澄海, in Mandarin: Chenghai), was one of historical Teochew prefecture's eight counties. Occupying the Hang-kang (韓江) river delta, it was formed from areas carved out of Hai Yor (now Teo Ann) and Gek Yor in 1563. Theng Hai is today administered as a district of the Swatow (汕頭, Shantou) prefectural-level city.
Some wooden barrels were piled up in the front, and the sound of wood-planing came out from an old shop on Zhen ping road. If passers-by looked inside it, carpenter Ye Hongjin would raise his head, but then bury it again to continue planing the wood on his hands.
59-year-old Ye is the owner of the shop and the only remaining carpenter in Shantou that could make nice wooden barrels by hand. He followed his father to learn how to make wooden furniture when he was 12.
76-year-old Deng Dechang has been trying to carry out a wish for nearly three decades. He wanted to rebuild a Taoist charity in Shantou.
Deng used to be a businessman running a paper factory. He quit his career when he was 57 years old, determined to reconstruct Yanshou Charity, a prominent Taoist temple that was burnt into ruins during the Cultural Revolution.
Fairy figurines, marinated geese, frolic goldfish were placed on a table in Huang Jinqi’s workshop. They were all made of rice. Huang, the only rice statue craftsman in Shantou, gave life to the statues and carried on a unique folk craft in China.
The history of making rice statue dated back to more than a thousand years ago, the Song Dynasty, originated in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. Huang’s grandfather learned the craft by himself a century ago and turned it into a prosperous business.
Since The Teochew Store was formed, we have received numerous requests for help from fellow Gaginangs to locate their ancestral village. Depending on the leads provided, we were able to assist many, but for others it is more difficult because some places have been renamed or now fall behind a different boundary line, other communities are unlisted on maps or the internet, or even when a place is found, there remains uncertainty if its residents have the same surname.
Fortunately the Shantou University (STU) Library has built a khieu-phue database (僑批數據庫) allowing keyword search for meta-data of some 70,000 pieces of khieu-phue (or "migrants letters", which were correspondences sent together with money remittances by Teochews living in Southeast Asia to their homes in Teochew), receipts and return letters. The site URL is http://app.lib.stu.edu.cn/qiaopi/index.aspx.
Teochew Documentary: Letters of A Family On Two Shores - Two-Part Documentary on the Teochew Letters
"... the true value of the Teochew Letters can only be unlocked by the people they are addressed to. Individually, every set of letters tell the stories and struggles of a family in a moment of history. But put together, all of them express the purpose and meaning of life to every common man - to seek the betterment of life for the ones who love us, and to pass this dream to the children after us."
A documentary retelling the 400-year history of the Teochew Opera - the finest representation of Teochew performing arts. This production is worthwhile watching not only because of its subject, but also because it is the fruit of the personal efforts of a young Teochew, Tan Tek Meng 陳迪鳴 to keep alive a tradition close to the heart of himself and his people.
It was the Christmas Eve in 2010, Xuyin Wu was absorbed in a play about the birth of Jesus at a church in Shantou, performed by a group of children.
“Life went completely different when I was a child,” she said, keeping her eyes glued to the children.
58-year-old Wu lives alone on the allowance from the government, which is 225 yuan ($35) per month. Her one-room apartment costs about 80 yuan monthly. It is tidy with four whitewashed walls, a washroom, a bed, and some cooking utensils.
“It is the best house I have ever lived in my life,” she said with a big smile, kept rubbing the middle finger of her right hand.
No storefront, but only a handcart, two gas cylinders, eight wooden tables and some plastic chairs. That’s all they have to earn a living.
The owner of all these “treasures” is an old couple, 60-year-old Chen Shilong, and his 56-year-old wife Zheng Zhu. They sell rice noodles at a road intersection, opposite the Zhongshan Park in Jinping District in Shantou.
The couple came to Shantou with their children 20 years ago from the countryside of Jieyang...
With a hand slickly pressing the strings and the other drawing the bow, 84-year-old Li Xuewen was playing erhu, humming a tone to himself.
Li was a teacher and then a principal at schools in Jieyang, a city neighboring Shantou, for several decades.After retiring in 1985,he began to teach himself play several music instrument including, and gave children in his village music lessons for free.
In 2004 , with the support of Seniors’ Association in Li’s village, he set up a local music training session, teaching the children basic music knowledge and how to play music instruments.
A special series of articles about ordinary people living in Swatow, written by students from Shantou University (STU) Cheung Kong School of Journalism
by Lv Shanshan
Bustling with traffic and pedestrians, Little Park, an older district of Shantou, was busy as usual on a recent winter day. “Drawing, Photography, Video”—A red signboard stood on the first floor of Wang Yulong’s shop. Starting as a self-taught painter, then a sent-down youth, a photographer and a business owner, Wang’s life path had been closely linked with China’s rapid changes....