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Culture

Profound Hakka Culture

 

As part of the pure Han nationality, the people of the earthen buildings do not have unusual clothing customs of their own. Nowadays, what they wear is even less distinct from the city people’s clothing. It is an inevitable result of social progress.

 

The older generations in the earthen buildings like to wear flared trousers made of coarse blue or black cloth. Most are made by local seamstresses or the young women of the family. Worn by the old people, this style looks rather dated. When the wide trouser legs are flapping in the breeze, they are like the banners on the ancient ramparts. Children wear happiness- and-longevity hats and bibs. These look old-fashioned, too. You aren’t likely to see them in other places.

 

It is said that this was handed down from their life on the Central Plains. The happiness-and-longevity hats are made from several layers of cloth that have been soaked in rice pasta. Five pieces of this cloth are then stitched together with colored thread. Most of tops of the hats are shaped like eight-cornered lotus flowers. Usually, the center of the hat has three red embroidered balls on it, symbolizing wealth, or a rooster to symbolize good luck. On the brim is embroidered a pair of lions or a dragon and phoenix. The ears are long and generally made of white rabbit fur; in cold weather, they can keep the ears warm. In warm weather, they can be folded over the brim. They are embroidered with auspicious animals or birds, or with the characters for happiness and longevity. The hats are usually made of bluish gray, red, or black cloth. White cloth can never be used. On the two sides and back there are tassels made of colorful thread. Hanging from them are little flowers and bells made of copper. This makes a pleasant sound when the children walk.

The bibs match the hats. They are made from several layers of thick cotton cloth and shaped like eight-cornered lotus flowers. The opening for the neck is in the center, and a cloth button is on the back. The bib is used to keep saliva from staining the clothing. It can also keep insects or dirt from getting inside one’s clothes. It is obviously useful. Usually embroidered with dragons, phoenixes, and flowers, the bibs are very attractive.


When one walks on the winding mountain road, one can’t avoid feeling lonely. One needs to find some enjoyment. Thus, mountain ballads came into being. In the tea plantations, a young man and a girl pick tea together. Their eyes meet briefly like a flash of lightning, and love popples in their hearts. Thus, mountain ballads came into being.


Among the Hakka people in the villages of earthen buildings in southwestern Fujian, mountain ballads are very popular. Mountain ballads are an oral literature created by the Hakka in the midst of their hard work. There are ditties chanted and sung by oneself. There are love songs-men and women singing in turn in a conversational way. There are also joking ballads. In general, each song consists of four sentences, each having seven words. They are filled with lush flavor of countryside. They also have the leisurely, lingering appeal handed down from the ballads of the ancient Center Plains. The melodies are rhythmic, simple, and sweet.


Most of them are love songs. Some are bold and direct; others are subtle and metaphorical. The words are flowery and passionate. They are really touching and deeply moving. From them you can see the real temperament of the people in the earthen buildings, and you can also feel the artistic charm. The Ming dynasty writer Feng Menglong said “there may be artificial poetry, but there is no artificial mountain ballad.” The Hakka love songs truly flow from the hearts of the Hakka men and women: here and there in the mountains, we see vines entangling trees. The living vine entangling a dead tree is like my feeling that I will be with you throughout your life and even after you die. The dead vine on the living tree is like my feeling that I will be with you all my life and even after I die.