Haizi


Haizi
(né Zha Haisheng)
b. May 1964, Anqing; d. 26 March 1989, Shanghai
Poet
Haizi was a well-known poet who began writing as a campus poet in 1982. He entered Peking University at the age of fifteen and began writing lyrical and narrative poetry, short fiction and diaries. After graduation, he lived a hermetic life in the Beijing rural suburbs, marked by poetic ambition and mental illness until he committed suicide in 1989.
From the beginning Haizi stood out for his poetic genius and encyclopedic knowledge. He was a poet who lived his poetry and used his adolescent crisis-consciousness to search for a universal poetic truth. While Misty poetry (Menglongshi) and the Third Generation poets (see Third Generation /poets) reflected the immediate situation of the time, it was Haizi’s objective to create an epic of universal truth. Since the epic form has no tradition in China, he incorporated Western and Eastern religion, philosophy and art into his writing. His unfinished epic poem The Sun (Taiyang) comprises seven poetic dramas and a novel in verse, influenced by the Bible, Indian epics, Homer and Dante, Hölderlin, Shakespeare and Goethe. Although overly ambitious in its scope, it is a testimony to his keen instinct and original style. Haizi’s mysterious death elevated him to almost mythological status. But it is the informed depth and accessibility of his poetry that remains a challenge to poets and constitutes an extraordinary part of Chinese literature.
See also: poetry; Xi Chuan
Yeh, Michelle (2000). ‘Death of the Poet’. In D.Wang and P.Chi (eds), Chinese Literature in the Second Half of a Modern Century: A Critical Survey. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
BIRGIT LINDER
Hakka
The Hakka are a diasporic ethnic group, considered by most scholars and Chinese people to be a sub-group of the dominant Han Chinese who migrated southwards from central China starting in the fourth century. The seven counties of Meizhou prefecture in mountainous northern Guangdong is considered to be their homeland because of the area’s high concentration of Hakka. Over 40 million Hakka, however, are scattered throughout China and Taiwan, and many more in over fifty countries, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Mauritius, Canada and the United States. There are also distinct Hakka communities in the United Kingdom, France and Jamaica. Hakka (Mandarin, Kejia) literally means ‘guest people’, suggesting the ethnic group’s marginality and frequent migration. Despite their marginalization, however, there have been many prominent Hakka individuals in Chinese history and contemporary society, including Qiu Fengjia (Qing political and educational leader), Hong Xiuquan (Taiping Rebellion leader), Sun Yat-sen (father of the Republican and Communist revolutions), Ye Jianying (PRC military and political leader), Lee Kuan-yew (leader of Singapore) and Han Suyin (writer), to name but a few.
Historically, the Hakka were marginal because they lacked prime agricultural land and lived for the most part in mountainous and other less desirable areas. Nonetheless, they are proud of their links to the culture of the Central Plains and especially to that of the Tang dynasty. Hakka culture is often delineated by the ‘Hakka Spirit’ (Kejia jingshen), which can be summarized by the following traits: hard work, self-reliance, independence, frugality and a pioneering spirit with a strong concept of roots. The Hakka are also known for greater gender equality—historically, Hakka women did not bind their feet, and were seen by both Hakka and non-Hakka as active participants in public life. The Hakka have a distinct dialect, with many colloquial words that cannot be expressed using Chinese characters and wide regional variations within the dialect itself. There is also a distinct Hakka cuisine, known for its combination of good taste and thriftiness—similar in some ways to Cantonese cuisine with its lack of spiciness, but largely prepared using more stir-fried techniques, heavier ingredients, preserved vegetables and tofu. Some well-known Hakka dishes include fatty pork with preserved vegetables (meicai kourou), tofu stuffed with pork (niang doufu)., and meatball and fishball soups.
As ‘guest people’, another dominant characteristic of Hakka culture is their perpetual migration. The earliest usage of the term ‘guest’ (ke), used in opposition to those marked as ‘native’ (zhu), is found in a Tang dynasty census of 780. Since that time there has been constant friction between the Hakka and other Han ethnic groups (such as the Cantonese), the so-called natives, who had settled in southern China earlier. Many Hakka cultural characteristics, therefore, reflect this history of conflict, including the importance of lineages in structuring Hakka social life and the architecture of some Hakka homes—the ‘roundhouses’ (tulou) in southern Fujian and the ‘walled dragon houses’ (weilongwu) in Meizhou, Guangdong—that resemble fortresses. Many of these walled structures can house over a thousand people, and have within their fortifications stables, granaries, ancestral temples and wells.
Hakka women are known for their independence and public role relative to the women of other subethnic Han groups, and have become symbolic of both Hakka culture and modern gender relations. Luo Xianglin, the seminal, early twentieth-century historian of the Hakka, marked off Hakka women as a ‘special characteristic’ (texing) of Hakka culture, a tradition that has been continued by Hakka ethnic apologists. Because Hakka women did not practise footbinding, they have traditionally worked in farming, the marketing of agricultural products, and other paid labour outside the home. Although an object of derision by other Han Chinese groups in the past, when pejorative labels such as ‘big feet’ were used to describe Hakka women, contemporary opinion sees the absence of footbinding as a demonstration of the progressiveness of Hakka culture. In Hakka families, women create and manage family wealth, and there is no distinction in gender roles either in the management and cultivation of the family farm or in the management of household funds; Hakka men, however, still maintain a dominant position as the head of the household (jiazhang). The importance of women in Hakka culture is further indicated by the addition of an honorific—ru ren—on Hakka ancestral tablets; this title is based on a legend according to which a group of Hakka women, returning from work in the fields with farm implements on their shoulders, were mistaken as women soldiers by an invading Mongol army, who fled at the sight, resulting in the bestowal of this title on all Hakka women by the emperor. Relative gender parity is also reflected in Hakka ‘mountain songs’ (shange), an important element in Hakka culture. A highly stylized singing form, mountain songs, today as in the past, usually involve two singers, a man and a woman, who take turns singing, each responding to the other. They are mostly love songs traditionally associated with courtship, but they also demonstrate that there has been less segregation between Hakka men and women in both work and play than among other Han Chinese ethnicities.
Cohen, Myron (1976). House United, House Divided: The Chinese Family in Taiwan. New York: Columbia University Press.
Constable, Nicole (1994). Christian Souls and Chinese Spirits: A Hakka Community in Hong Kong. Berkeley: University of California Press.
——(ed.) (1996). Guest People: Hakka Identity in China and Abroad. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Johnson, Elizabeth L. (1988). ‘Grieving for the Dead, Grieving for the Living: Funeral Laments of Hakka Women’. In James L.Watson and Evelyn S.Rawski (eds), Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 135–63.
Lozada, Eriberto P. Jr. (2001). God Aboveground: Catholic Church, Postsocialist State, and Transnational Processes in a Chinese Village. Stanford: Stanford University Press [ethnography of a Hakka village].
ERIBERTO P.LOZADA JR

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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