Overview of Teochew

teochew map

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Geography

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Teochew(Chaozhou) is located at the easternmost part and along the coastal line of Guangdong Province.  It connects with Fujian Province in the North. The region surrounded by mountains with the Southern border is facing the South China Sea.

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Teochew includes Chao’an (Teo Ann), Punning (Pho Leng), Jieyang (Kit Yang), Chenghai (Theng Hai), Huilai, Chaoyang, Raoping, Nan’ao and Dapu (Hakka region). Due to language difference, Dapu was later separated from the Teochew region. However, as the Teochew region comprised eight districts, it’s commonly named as “Bayi” or “Poit Ip”(Eight districts).   

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Today, the City of Teochew has jurisdiction over Xiangqiao District, Chao’an County and Raoping County, with a total area of 3613.9km². Han River is the mother river of City of Teochew, which flows through the city. Guangji Bridge, one of the four bridges built in ancient China which connects the Western and Eastern regions of the bridges, is the transition point of transportation between Guangdong and Fujian Province.

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History

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Yi’an Commandery was first formed during the Dongjin Dynasty in 413A.D. It was reformed as Yi’an County by the first emperor of Sui Dynasty in 600. The following year, Yi’an County was officially name as “Chaozhou” and become a “Province” jurisdiction. The name of Teochew (Chaozhou) has since been adopted and widely used for the next 1400 years.

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Language

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Teochew dialect originated from Putian dialect (a division of Hokkien dialect) and was influenced by Zhangzhou dialect. In the early 19th century, people from Chaoshan (Chaozhou and Shantou) area migrated to South East Asia and other regions to earn a living. Following the migration wave, they brought the Teochew dialect and culture with them to their new homes. Today, Teochew is the second largest Chinese ethnic group in Singapore, followed by the Hokkien community. Under the influences of Western culture and media, the once popular dialect is slowly overtaken by Mandarin and English.

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Migration to the South

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As the saying goes, “sail to Sit-lat-po”, the Teochews sailed to a remote port to Singapore to earn a living in the early days. Life in the coastal region had trained the Teochews to withstand hardship. They worked hard for a better life after coming to Singapore and the region and soon achieve remarkable success with their business acumen.

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Culture

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Teochew folk culture is famous for its uniqueness and stylishness. Teochew music and opera are two of the most recognised performing arts in Teochew culture. Teochew music is the result of an infusion of inland music, influenced by the local musical style of the region and various opera genres. The melodies of the Teochew music are clear and quaint, exuding the classic charm of ancient Chinese music.

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On the other hand, Teochew opera is greatly influenced by Southern Drama (Nan Xi), it integrated the Teochew folk music coupled with the unique intonation of the dialect to evolve into a distinctive new repertoire. Other renowned folk culture, including Teochew cuisine and art craft, such as Teochew wood carving, embroidery, ceramic, ais also widely recognised.

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