Upper and Lower Lascar Row

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Lascar Row
Upper Lascar Row.JPG
Lascar Row, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.
Traditional Chinese 摩羅上街

Lascar Row is located at Sheung Wan, the Central and Western District, which is between the Hollywood Road and the Queen's Road Central, in Hong Kong.The official name should be Upper Lascar Row. The street name "Upper Street" is very special, but in fact, there is another "Lower Street" called Lower Lascar Row. It is neither a road nor a shopping place. After the redevelopment by the Hong Kong Government, a majority part of Lower Lascar Street has been redesigned as a street used by vehicular traffic, and now it is renamed as Lok Ku Road.

Meaning[edit]

The word "摩囉"(cantonese pronunciation) is not included in the Chinese dictionary. To find its meaning, it is necessary to search from its English name "Lascar". "Lascar" is cited from the Persian word "Lashkar", which meant 'military camp' but to the British it meant Indian seamen specifically. So-called "摩囉" is changed from another word 'Musselmen', i.e. Muslims who traded in China from the Middle East. Due to the simplification of pronunciation, Musselmen is gradually read as "Morra". There is a reason why it is called "row" but not "street". Row means a range of houses. As mentioned before, Lascar is defined as the seamen from India. Explicitly, this street name entirely explains that place was the accommodation region for Indian seamen. This is the origin of the English and Chinese name of this street.[1]

The origins of other names[edit]

"Antiques Street"="Lascar Street"="Cat Street"[2]

In the community of Indian cluster, they formed a mini market, which provides a place for Indians to trade there at ease. Since 1920, it has developed as a market for antiques and old goods transaction time by time, there are many antiques, obsoleted electronical appliances being sold. Therefore, it has become a unique area for people to find gems and valuable products. And hence it is called as "antiques street" along with the Hollywood Road.

For the other name "cat street"(貓街), as some of the shops sell stolen goods, which they are called as "mouse goods" (老鼠貨 in Chinese). The prices are relatively lower, this attracts many people to shop in this area. For those who buy these goods, they choose their favourite products stealthily along the street, as if they are acting like cats, which are ready to catch mouse. Hence, foreigners called this street as "Cat Street"

Features[edit]

  • One of the favourite sights for tourists
  • Antiques collection place
  • Long history(>100 years)
  • The integration of western and oriental aritecture
  • The blending of modern and ancient society
  • Centre of Sheung Wan
  • Accessibility (easy to get to there)
  • Convenience

(visitors can go upstairs to Man Mo Miu at Hollywood Road or go downstairs to have shopping at Western Market)

  • A landmark in Sheung Wan

History[edit]

View of Lascar Row
Shops located at Upper Lascar Row

In Chinese, it is common to use "摩囉" to describe Indians. At the beginning, it did not contain any derogatory sense. There are two examples to illustrate this point:

In the historical urban in Macau, there is the Macau Moorish Barracks, which were originally named "Quartel dos Mouros" in Portuguese. Today it is called "Edificao da Capitania dos Portos"(摩囉兵營/摩爾人兵營). Mouros is the English word "Moors", which means the policemen who came to Macau from Portuguese colony. Therefore, Moors is a general term that including North Africans, Poles, Indians and Arabians, etc.

The second instance is from Hong Kong. In Tsim Sha Tsui, there is the historic blocks S61 and S62 of the former Whitfield Barracks at Kowloon Park. They have another name "Moors Soldiers Barracks"(摩囉兵營). In other words, it is not a new thing to use Moors to describe Indians, at least, in the area of Hong Kong and Macau there is a saying like this.[3]

Besides, another nickname for Indians is 「阿差」, it is generated from the Indian word "Achcha". In English, it means "Yes". Then, the words 「摩囉」(Morra) and 「阿差」(Achcha) are integrated together, and now we have the term 「摩囉差」in Cantonese. When Hong Kong people say this term in an unpleasant way, it sounds like they are degrading Indians. No matter why the Hong Kong government has to set stipulation to prohibit the public to use 「阿差」 to describe Indians. It is now included in the discrimination ordiance.

In fact, there is a connection between the Upper Lascar Row and the Indians. If we trace back to early time in Hong Kong, there was a group of Indian policemen garrisoned in Hong Kong. The structure of policemen is divided in four parts: Team A is Europeans, Team B is Indians, Team C is mainly consisted by local Hong Kong people. Team D members mostly come from Shan Tung in Mainland China. Gradually, it form a small community for Indians and keep developing til nowadays.[4]

Shops and products[edit]

Lascar Row is famous and lovable sights in Sheung Wan. Hollywood Road and Upper Lascar Row are both called as "antiques street"(古董街). This combination is appealing to many tourists to visit. If you walk along the street, you will feel like you have entered an amazing world. This street is full of mystery and oriental atmosphere.

There is a wide variety of choices for you to search. For example, copper mirror, electrical fans produced ages ago, gems and jades, watches, ancient coins, vasts from qing dynasty, stamps, newspaper, calendar etc.[5] Sometimes you can even get a cheaper price if you are willing to negotiate with the retailers. After you have visited the Upper Lascar Row, it is accessible to other spots easily, like the Man Mo Temple at Hollywood Road, it just takes a minute walk to reach there. In addition, it is also convenient to walk down along the long stairs which pass through Queen's Road Central, Bonham Strand and Morrison St, then you can go to the Wing Lok Street to buy ginseng and birdnest souvenirs. Another option is to go further and have a pleasant shopping at the Western Market.

Events[edit]

Rename incident

In 2010, 8 district officers from the central and western district expressed their discontent for Southern Asians. They claimed that the term 「摩羅」in cantonese is insulting to Indians; therefore, they requested that the Hong Kong government examine this topic once again with the hope that they would change the name of the street. However, the Lands Department rejected the request because it did not find that the meaning was offensive to Southern Asians. Some officers pointed out that this incident has reflected that the government does not face the discrimination phenomenon against ethical minority.

The Democratic Party criticised the government did not consider the feelings of those from Southern Asia. As they think that this term is a nickname that Hong Kong people have used to tease the Southern Asians, describing them as uncivilised, uneducated and low-income-level group. Yet, the government explained that if they change the name, the historical value and meaning will be eliminated. They also insisted that the term "Mouro" is neutral; it is unnecessary to take this action.

Other opinion addresses the problem of inconvenience. The street name "Upper Lascar Row" has been used for about a hundred years. Once the name is changed, residential citizens have to spend time to adapt the new conditions, for example, it affects the postal addresses and medical records up to approximately one hundred thousand people. Some of them suggest that the government should consult the public first to appraise the feasibility before taking this into practice.[6]

Streets besides Larscar Row[edit]

Some buildings and landmarks along the road[edit]

Sheung Wan Civic Centre

Public transport[edit]

As a sightseeing spot in the Central and Western District, there are several transportation available as the Lascar Street is just in front of the main road (Queen's Road Central).

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Template:Lascar Row Template:HKcentralandwesternroads

Coordinates: 22°18′38″N 114°10′12″E / 22.3106°N 114.1700°E / 22.3106; 114.1700

Lower Lascar Row

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ *香港街道命名考源. 市政局刊物.
  2. ^ Chiu, chen-pong. (2009). 穿街過巷香港地. 香港: 恩與美文化基金.
  3. ^ http://www.olamacauguide.com/moorish-barracks.html
  4. ^ http://www.olamacauguide.com/moorish-barracks.html
  5. ^ Niu, Ru-chen. (1998). 香港全覽. Bet-Jing: Dong Fang Chu Ban She.
  6. ^ http://news.hkheadline.com/dailynews/content_hk/2010/06/17/113708.asp
  7. ^ http://hk.centamap.com/gc/home.aspx
  8. ^ Cheung, Chi-Yi. 圖說香港昔日情. 香港:經要文化.
  9. ^ Leung, Beng-Wa. 中西區風物誌. [Heritage of the central and western district, Hong Kong]. 香港: 中西區臨時區議會.