Meanings in Hakka clothing

Preservation of the Central plain Hans culture

The hans race is the basis of the Central Plain . Hakka as a sub han chinese  due to war and strife, migrates to the south. Though in constant migration, Hakka stubbornly kept central plain heritage, for they feel that there is hope of going back to its homelands.This hope of going back, eventually becomes the pillar of their fighting spirit against hardship as well as enemies.

The hakka are resilent against other clothing culture. For during the 300 year Qing dynasty ruling, the Hakka but still wears the ming Dynasty clothing. However, wearing the Ming dynasty clothings , the hakka call it 唐装, Tang clothings.

If an old grandmother who was well endowed with generation of children and grand children, would wear phoenix headdress and elaborate gown during her funeral. It differs from the normal funeral clothes if one were to pass
away, these special clothing are said to be only wore by the rich women in the Ming Dynasty.

After the Qing Dynasty , the qipao wore by the Manchus was widely spread throughout China. These dress exemplifies the figure of the Chinese woman and formed a characteristizing status in the China clothing. However it was not is used by the hakka female as they found it not practical as they worked in the fields.

Showing of unity and teamwork / family cohensiveness
Migration in modules of family of the same surname and close ties, move into south. Due to Change of environment and fighting off of original inhabitants, requires teamwork as well as the cohesiveness of family members. Unity can seen in hakka clothing. It shows exclusiveness , conservative,  uniform like and the lack of changes among most of the clothings.

The Hakka has value of ancestry , words of wisdom and way of life pass down from generations to generations. Little changes are made to these knowledge.

Woman in Hakka culture has earned much respect and less marginalizes.  Often they share the load of taking care of the family. This is because usually the husband of the family would look for jobs outside the village to support
the family. The wife would have to work to support the family, take care of young and old. Thus, the managerial quality of hakka woman is great. The Hakka families grew their own crops for sustainability as well as source
of income.these tasks often lands into the hands of the Hakka women. Sewing, as a secondary income could also be seen in the Hakka women community. This chore is often done at night, after their work in the fields in the day.

There are little differences between the  man and woman costume, as this shows the working ability of the women as compared to the man are on par. In the social casting , clothing did not differ much, this shows the equality among the hakkas and the value of sharing joys and woes as a whole.

Thriftiness of hakka seen in clothing

Agriculture played an important role in the civilization of China , likewise for the Hakka people. After migrating southwards, they reside in the mountainous area where arable land is scare while the population is huge. A method to
solve the problem is to open up new lands and making them suitable for farming. The Hakka sees this as a method of boosting their economy. There is a say that poor is who have unexplored/un use land, rich is who has no wasted
land. and cant seperate the rich from the soil.

However, the Hakka are not in favourable of being in business, they have a traditional bias against merchants, seeing merchants as unscrupulous. Thus merchandising in the Hakka village are not very popular. The Hakka would have a special day of goods exchange for every five days of work.

The tradition roles for gender in the Central plains are “男耕女织” literally translated as man plough woman sew. However,  the situation in Hakka differs, often man would go out and find jobs, whilst the woman will take over the
“plough” meaning to tend the fields but would also need to sew. As mentioned by a Taiwan Hakka scholar, the Hakkas due to migration, are simple and down to earth, they are very self reliant , wont seek help from outside. This
could also be seen through the cloth The Hakka women are skilled in weaving, during their spare time, they would make cloth from the fibre of pineapple leaves and ramie for summer ,cotton for autumn and winter. It is said that the cloth they weave are strong and resilient to dirt, simple and elegant, cheap and beautiful.  Thus, plain and simple are the biggest unique characteristics in the Hakka clothing, which are made from the cloth.

Simplicity in hakka clothing

The style of clothing in Hakka are uniformed and simple. However, this doesn’t mean that the Hakka are not aware extravagant clothing. The original Tang clothing which the Hakka wore are elaborate and complex. As migrants from
the Central Plains, the hakka knew this. The ” 大襟衫” (right buttoned front unlined  garment) and 大裆裤(“bulky pants”) are the main body of Hakka clothing picked from the Tang heritage, They are chosen for their simple elegance  as well as their practicality and functionality. They are sewed by hakka woman. As the woman are busy in the fields, some details/ motifs are taken out and simplified, this saves money and also save time. It also shows the
frugal attitude of the Hakka.

Translated from 客家服饰文化,  by 郭 凡, 张佑周,  publisher: 福建教育出版社


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