Origin, Development and Establishment of Hakka

The southward migration of the Hakka took place in five stages. The first stage began in the Dong Jin period (317 to 420 ce), when the Hakka moved southward from today’s Henan and Shanxi. The second and third stages began in late Tang dynasty and ended in the Bei Song dynasty, when the migration moved southward to southern Jiangxi. They later continued further south to western Fujian and then to northeastern Guangdong. The fourth and fifth stages began in late Ming and early Qing dynasties, when the Manchurians invaded. During this period, more Hakka people moved to other regions or overseas, and the number of government officials and businessmen who moved cannot be accurately established. In a nutshell, the Hakka kept moving to flee wars and disturbances, escape poverty, and pursue a better life. Staying true to the spirit of the Hakka, they survived and thrived by working hard under difficult conditions.

Hakka culture is informed by the interactions with both the Han people and minorities. Hakka society exists on the margin of the mainstream Han society from the perspective of racial interaction and historical social change. In the history of racial development, the Hakka have kept close contact with minorities. In terms of racial consciousness, they claim to have pure Han blood. Therefore, to truly understand Hakka culture, we cannot focus solely on either Han or Hakka culture. We must view the development of Hakka society in different regions from the perspective of racial interaction, particularly in relation to historical changes.

Hakka culture features a blending and merging with southern indigenous culture. When Hakka migrants left their homeland for Sichuan, Guangxi, and Taiwan, the racial interaction with their new neighbors was one of the driving forces behind Hakka social and cultural evolution . This phenomenon reflects how the Hakka adapt to their environment they live in and interact with locals, as well as highlights the core issue of Hakka identity. These issues need to be further explored if we wish to delve more deeply into the meaning of Hakka.

From the perspective of racial identity, past anthropological studies on racial issues mostly define a race as including a common language, living environment, and cultural features. However, in today’s fast-changing society, these features are fading away. They are no longer important or the only indications of racial identity. Instead, self-ascribed cultural identity has become the most important factor.

The Hakka worship of ancestors under certain environments and historical contexts may be examined by observing interactions between racial groups. In some regions, Hakka religious beliefs may change depending on the interactions with more dominant racial groups; however, some maintain the conservatism of their religious beliefs over a long time. From a historical perspective, the fact that Hakka society is located on the margins of mainstream Han culture may be a cornerstone of cultural identity for the Hakka.