The Teochew Store Blog

Full list of Towns & Villages in Pho Leng county (circa 1958) 普寧縣都村列表

Pho Leng (variant: Poleng, Poeleng) (普寧, in Mandarin: Puning), was one of historical Teochew prefecture's eight counties. Although Pho Leng is now administered as a county under Gek Yor prefectural-level city, it was originally carved out from Teo Yor county and large parts of its area fall within the Liēng-kang (練江) river basin.

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Full list of Towns & Villages in Theng Hai county (circa 1958) 澄海縣都村列表

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.

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Teochew Folk Song (modern cover version) 現代歌詩 - 挨米來飼雞(潮州民謠翻唱版)

A retro-remix of an "oldie" out from Malaysia, entirely appropriate for welcoming the exciting Year of the Rooster!


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Full list of Towns & Villages in Gek Yor county (circa 1958) 揭陽縣都村列表

After its conquest by the Han dynasty in 111 BCE, the Teochew region was incorporated into the map of imperial China for the first time as a county named Gek Yor (variant: Kityang, Kityall) (揭陽, in Mandarin: Jieyang). The origin of today's Gek Yor area is traceable to a county of the same name created in 1140, which along with Hai Yor (now Teo Ann) and Teo Yor formed the “Three Yor" (三陽) of the Song dynasty that is the core of the Teochew homeland. 

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Full list of Towns & Villages in Teo Yor county (circa 1958) 潮陽縣都村列表

Teo Yor (variant: Teoyeo, Tioyio, Teoyall) (潮陽, in Mandarin: Chaoyang), was one of historical Teochew prefecture's eight counties and its most populous. Originally formed in 413 as part of the Ngee Ann Commandery (義安郡), it is now represented by the Teo Yor and Teo Nam (潮南, Chao'nan) districts in the Swatow (汕頭, Shantou) prefectural-level city.  

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Full list of Towns & Villages in Teo Ann county (circa 1958) 潮安縣都村列表

Teo Ann (variant: Teo-an, Teoann) (潮安, in Mandarin: Chao'an), known as Hai Yor (海陽) before 1914, is the oldest of the Teochew region's eight historical counties. It was formed under the Eastern Jin dynasty in 331. The seat of the newly-created Ngee Ann Commandery (義安郡) - forerunner of Teochew Prefecture, was established here in 413. This urban centre became the Teochew prefectural capital (潮州府城), or better known today as the Teochew (Chaozhou) ancient city (潮州古城).
Map from Qianlong Teochew prefectural gazette (乾隆潮州府志) circa 1762.
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Teochew Reggae Music: B.O.K

Entering 2017 in style. Everything will Be Okay, Happy New Year to all!

(click Read More for lyrics)

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Teochew Christmas Song 潮语圣诞节

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Teochew Documentary: Teochew Documentary: Salute to Teochew 致敬潮汕

A stunning video capturing spectacular aerial views of present Teochew region.
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Teochew Documentary: Town, Country & Seaside Life Round about Swatow, Chaochowfu and Swabue (1935)

Watch this fascinating silent film Town, Country & Seaside Life Round about Swatow, Chaochowfu* and Swabue, and gaze into how people back in 1935 loaded salt on the beach, set up stage for a Teochew opera, built boats, made ropes, bring in their catch from the sea, chopped wood, sold prawns and fish, carry pigs, made bricks, plaster wall, forge metal, clean oyster and spin fishing net.
There are also rare glimpses into the old Teo-Swa railway, and not to forget images of how our grandparents were dressed back then! 
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This is Life in Shantou - A Remaining Wooden Barrel Craftsman

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.

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Teochew Festival in Singapore 新加坡潮州節 2016

Teochew Festival in Singapore, 9 to 18 December 2016. An event to experience and learn about Gaginang culture. For more information please visit the official event website

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This is Life in Shantou - Struggling to Rebuild Taoist Charity

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.

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This is Life in Shantou - Create Art out of Rice

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.

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Teochew Sentimental Song: "Destined" 潮州-情感歌曲: 《注定》


Teochew remake of Danny Chan's (陳百強) evergreen Cantonese favourite Just Loving You (偏偏喜歡你). (click for lyrics)

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Roots-Finding: Locating Your Ancestral Village in Teochew (Part 3)

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

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Teochew Documentary: Letters of A Family On Two Shores - Two-Part Documentary on the Teochew Letters

Watch the true-life stories behind the Teochew Letters in this moving two-part documentary.

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Teochew Letters: The Story of A People, Penned By The People

"... 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."

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Rise of the Red Head Junks - When the Teochew Forefathers Overcame the Odds

In 1684 the fourth emperor of the Qing dynasty Kangxi (reign 1661-1722) issued a decree to re-open the coastline of China for maritime activities. The decision marked an end restrictions on private overseas trade imposed on the Chinese people since the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and began also the rehabilitation of the southern Chinese coast, which a prolonged war fought between the Manchurian invaders of China and the powerful merchant-pirate in Fujian Zheng Chenggong thoroughly devastated. However for the Teochew region, whose population bore the brunt of the worst savagery committed by the two sides, the road to recovery only commenced with the voyage of its first migrants to Siam (now Thailand) during the reign of Emperor Yongzheng (1723 to 1735). 
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Villains or Heroes - the Teochews Who Ruled The High Seas

Located on the periphery of imperial China, the Teochew prefecture was seldom the subject of interest of the ancient Chinese scribes who recorded the histories of the different dynasties. And even though the region produced more than its fair share of imperial officials and scholars, virtually none of these persons received more than a passing mention in the royal records. It is thus ironic that when the Ming Shi-lu 明實錄 (also known as the Veritable Records of the Ming Dynasty) finally made reference to a native of Teochew in more than a few lines, it was not to a meritorious subject, but a man condemned as a criminal and rebel...
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Teochew Documentary: Teochew Opera 潮劇紀錄片

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. 

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This is Life in Shantou - Life is hard, but better than the past

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.

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This is Life in Shantou - Their New Year Wish is Paying Off Debt

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...

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This is Life in Shantou - 84-Year-Old Brings Music to Village Children

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.

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This is Life in Shantou - Changing with Times, Shaping His Life Path

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....

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Swatow History: The Arcade Buildings & Their Architectural Style 潮汕鄉情:汕頭老市區騎樓和建築風格

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Swatow History: Stories Behind the Old Shops at Little Park 潮汕鄉情:汕頭小公園店鋪個故事

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Fellow Teochews in 2016 Rio Olympics

The flames for the 2016 Rio Olympics have been lit. Over the coming days many of us will be cheering for athletes representing the respective countries we live in and our personal favourite sports stars. While doing so do keep an eye out also for a handful of fellow Teochews competing!

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Making Sense of what is “Teo-Swa”?

Visiting the Teochew region in China to “re-discover” one’s roots has become increasingly popular in recent years amongst overseas Teochews. Quite reasonably we arrive expecting our ancestral heritage to be perfectly preserved in motherland, only to find that the Teochews here no longer call the place Teochew, but Teo-Swa (潮汕, in Mandarin: Chaoshan) and themselves Teo-Swa Nang (潮汕人, Chaoshan-ren). Baffled, if not also shocked, we question how can this be?

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Teochew Rock Music: “Small Town Teochew" 潮州-摇滚歌曲: 《小城潮汕》

Some of us would have heard at least a couple of pieces by  popular Teochew rap group AFinger. Now how about Teochew rock music! “Small Town Teochew" 《小城潮汕》 by Teng Hiok Seng 湯旭昇. (Click Read More for full lyrics)

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