The Teochew people (also known as Tiê-Chiu in romanized Teochew, Chaozhou in Mandarin, and Chiuchow in Cantonese) are a Han Chinese native to the historical Chaozhou prefecture (now the Chaoshan region) of eastern Guangdong province. Their native dialact is the Teochew dialect. Teochew people can also be found almost anywhere in the world, including North America, Australia and France.
The Teochew speak the Chinese Teochew dialect of Southern Min; Teochew cuisine is also distinctive. The ancestors of the Teochew people moved to present-day Chaoshan from the Central Plains of China in order to escape from a series of civil wars during the Jin dynasty (265–420).
Teochew can be romanised in a variety of schemes, and are known in Mandarin as cháo zhōu rén and Cantonese as Chiuchao yan. In referring to themselves as ethnic Chinese, Teochew people generally use Deung nang (Chinese: 唐人; pinyin: Tángrén; literally: "Tang Dynasty people"), as opposed to Hang nang (simplified Chinese: 汉人; traditional Chinese: 漢人; pinyin: Hànrén; literally: "Han Dynasty people").
Teochew people of the diaspora would generally use ting nang (Chinese: 唐人; pinyin: tangrén) to indicate Chinese heritage in a cultural sense. tingnang and tangren are broadly used by Teochew, Hokkien as well as Cantonese Chinese people living outside of China, referring to their maintaining a substantial cultural identity they consider to be Chinese. The identification of "tingnang" could perhaps be due to their early affiliation with the Tang dynasty. It is possible that a large number of Teochew people were immigrants from Northern China who came to settle down in the Chaoshan areas following the establishment of the Tang dynasty.
Teochew people also commonly refer to each other as ga gi nang (Chinese: 自己人; pinyin: Zìjǐrén; literally: "our own people").
Historically, these people were called Helao or Fulao (Hoklo), as they came mostly from Henan and Shanxi via Fujian, with well-maintained language and customs from ancient north-central China. As was recorded in pedigrees and ancient inscriptions, one of the two groups of those who originally migrated to Putian later decided to settle in Chaoshan instead in batches during the Tang Dynasty and soon spread all over the Chaoshan area, genetically intermixing with the local people there.
Geographic isolation and difficulty in traveling in the past made the Helao or Fulao become a relatively closed population.
The Teochew people are known to Cantonese speakers as "Hoklo", literally meaning "men of Fujian", although the term "Teochew" was used in the Straits Settlements in the 19th century and early 20th century. "Teochew" is derived from Teochew prefecture (Chaozhou Fu), the departmental city where they originate.
From the 19th century, due to disadvantaged circumstances, significant numbers of Teochew people left their homeland for Singapore and a new life. Early Teochew settlers could trace their origins to eight counties/prefectures: Chao'an, Chenghai, Chaoyang, Jieyang, Raoping, Puning, Huilai and Nan'ao. In addition to these new immigrants from the port of Swatow (Shantou), there were Teochew people relocating to Singapore from Siam and the Riau Islands.
Today, Teochew is the second-most spoken Chinese dialect in Singapore. They are the second-largest Chinese group in Singapore, comprising 21% of the Chinese population. As a result, they play a significant role in commerce and politics.
Most of the Teochew descendants in Taiwan have already been "hokkienized" ("hoklonized"). They speak the Taiwanese Hokkien language instead of Teochew. Some of them consider themselves as being Hakka. However, there are still some Teochew in Chaojhou township, in Pingtung County.
A 1926 Japanese census found that there were 134,800 people in Taiwan of Teochew ancestry.
Culturally, Teochew people are similar to Minnan (Hoklo) people, though they consider themselves distinct from Minnan people. Throughout a history of over 1000 years, the region of Chaoshan, known in ancient times as Teochew Prefecture, has developed and cultivated a prestigious culture which manifests its unique characteristics in language, opera, cuisine, tea practice, music, and embroidery.
The Teochew dialect (Chinese: 潮州話) the variant of Minnan dialect is considered[by whom?] one of the oldest Chinese dialects. Like Minnan dialect, it preserves many features from ancient Chinese that have been lost in other chinese varieties. It is spoken by roughly 10 million people in Chaoshan and more than five million outside the Chinese mainland.
Teochew woodcarving(Chinese: 潮州木雕) is a form of Chinese woodcarving originating from the Tang Dynasty. It is very popular in Chaoshan. Teochew people used a great deal of Teochew wood carving in their buildings.
Swatow ware is a form of porcelain associated with Teochew.
Teochew music (Chinese: 潮州音樂) is popular in Chaoshan's teahouse scene. The Teochew string instrument, gong, drum, and traditional Chinese flute are typically involved in ensembles. The current Chaozhou drum music is said[by whom?] to be similar to the Drum and Wind Music form of the Han and Tang Dynasties.
Teochew opera (Chinese: 潮劇) is a traditional art form which has a history of more than 500 years and is now enjoyed by 20 million Teochew people in over 20 countries and regions. Based on local folk dances and ballads, Teochew opera has formed its own style under the influence of Nanxi Opera. Nanxi is one of the oldest Chinese operas and originated in the Song Dynasty. The old form of choral accompaniment still preserves its distinctive features[which?]. Clowns and females are the most distinctive characters in Teochew opera, and fan-play and acrobatic skills are prominent.
Although few movies or television dramas have been made about the Teochew people, one such notable drama is the Singaporean 1995 drama series The Teochew Family.
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