Margaret's Book & the Origins of the Teochew and Hainanese People & their Links with the Hokkiens

Hi YY / Victor,
The Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC) conquered Guangdong first via Meiguan Pass without taking over the Fujian coastal region. It was much later in the subsequent Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) that Fujian's Min kingdom was conquered. When Guangdong region was taken over, the Qin Dynasty established the Nanhai Commandery which eventually became the Guangdong Provincial Administration based in Guangzhou. This administration included all the areas nominally taken over by the Qin at that time, which included Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan. Chaozhou is part of that region and hence remains part of Guangdong Province today, but most of the region remains unsettled by Han Chinese. Fujian was not even conquered at that point. Even after the Han Dynasty conquered the Min Kingdom in Fujian, much of the Guangdong-Fujian regions have few Han Chinese.
The Cantonese people - let's call them the Yue people using the standard linguistic term - was formed through the mix of original Bai-Yue tribal people in the Pearl River delta with Han Chinese immigrants who arrived through Meiguan Pass (in Shaoguan City) overland from Hunnan and Jiangxi. This began in the Han Dynasty, reaching an influx by the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).
It was only during Tang Dynasty that Fujian was settled in large numbers - such that the new Han-Chinese intermarried with the local Min and their children call themselves the Tang people (Tang-ren), which is what many Hokkiens continue to call themselves these days. The Hokkien or Minnan-Hainanese-Teochew group was formed from the mixture of original Min tribal groups with Han immigrants who arrived from Yellow River via the Yangtze Delta-Wu region. Hence, the Minnan and the Yue groups have totally different origins and are thus totally different languages.
The newly evolved Minnan (or so-called Tang) people moved into Chaozhou and Hainan during the Tang, Song (960-1279 AD) and Yuan (1271-1368 AD) Dynasties as the narrow plains of southern Fujian became over-populated and then devastated by the brutal Yuan conquest.
I have managed to trace my Hainanese ancestral roots to around 13th century from an official (拱宸公) was posted from a position in southern Fujian to Hainan in 1242. He was among a group of ("渡琼始祖") 27 Chen pioneers of Hainan known as "Nine Officials and 18 Travellers ("渡琼九官十八客始祖") honoured as the first Chen's or Tan's in Hainan. A survey of the records had revealed that most came around the time of Yuan conquest of Southern Song, from Fujian to Hainan. Hainan was largely Li-tribal until Han settlement in Tang Dynasty, but it was the influx of Song refugees during the Yuan conquest that tipped the island into Han Chinese majority, and most of these new immigrants came from Fujian. Over the next 800 years, the Minnan Hokkien of these immigrants to Hainan evolved to become what is today the Hainanese dialect, which has many common words with Minnan and which linguists (perhaps to the agony of "Hainan nationalists") continue to classify as a member of the Minnan group of languages. Hainan remains a part of Guangdong Province (until 1988 when it became a separate province) despite the immigration of Hokkien people who eventually became a separate Hainanese dialect.
According to, the Teochew people were formed from Fujian migrants who settled in Chaozhou region between 9th and 15th century (which coincides with the major Han settlement of Hainan). In that sense, the settlement of Chaozhou and formation of the related but linked Teochew group is similar to that of the Hainanese. Hence the similarity with Hokkien/Minnan. Again, despite the influx of Hokkien people (who eventually became Teochew) into Chaozhou, the governmental administration remains part of Guangdong.

Wee Cheng

From: Victor Yue <>
To:; G-taoism-singapore <>
Sent: Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:20:26 AM
Subject: Re: [taoism-singapore] Margaret's Book

Hi YY,

I thought I read somewhere that the Hainanese and Teochew were in some way related to the Hokkiens, hence the reason why some of the words are very similar. But I think we need some of the experts in our list to share in more depth on the movement of the Chinese people. I think, over the years, because of drought or war, many people have moved. Interestingly, many moved southwards?

I think the furthest to the south east is Dong Shan (where the Guan Gong temple is the springboard of Guan Gong worship to Taiwan and S.E.Asia, as I heard from a tour guide) and then, it is GuangDong. And in the midst of the Cantonese speaking GuangDong, there are the Teochews. When I was there, I was wondering how the Teochews lived and maintain their Teochew in the sea of Cantonese. (^^) But I was just a lay tourist and have been too lazy to read up .. good excuse is my poor command of Chinese.

I notice that the Teochew opera might be nearer to GuangDong opera than Hokkien opera. I think both perform Liu Guo (6 kingdoms) but I don't remember seeing Hokkien operas performing this as part of the prelude rituals.

Maybe, Tim might have some information to share. (^^) And Jave too, and maybe Javier can add more. Any Cantonese opera experts or lover here? (^^)


On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 12:00 AM, Yuxu Young <yuxuy@yahoo. com> wrote:

Hi Javier,
Talking about Teochew, do you know why their language is similar to Hokkien and totally different from Cantonese, despite being located in Canton province ?
Can someone share some comments ?


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