Teochew people

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Teochew people
潮州人 / 潮汕人
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Greater China (Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan), Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia), North America (United States, Canada), Australasia (Australia, New Zealand), France
Teo-Swa Min and the languages of their countries of residence
Predominantly Chinese folk religions (including Taoism, Confucianism, ancestral worship and others) and Mahayana Buddhism.
Related ethnic groups
Hoklo people and other Han Chinese
Teochew people

The Teochew people (rendered Tiê-Chiu in romanized Teochew and Chaozhou in Mandarin; also known as Teo-Swa in mainland China due to a change in place names[1]) are a Han Chinese people native to the historical Teochew prefecture (now the Chaoshan region) of eastern Guangdong province who speak the Teo-Swa Min language (typified by the Teochew dialect). Today, most Teochew people live in Hong Kong, Guangdong Province, and also outside China in Southeast Asia, including in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia. The community can also be found in diasporas across the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and France.[citation needed]


Teochew can be romanized in a variety of schemes, and are known in Mandarin as Cháozhōu rén and in Cantonese as Chiuchao yan. In referring to themselves as ethnic Chinese, Teochew people generally use Deung nang (Chinese: 唐人; pinyin: Tángrén; lit. 'Tang Dynasty people'), as opposed to Hang nang (simplified Chinese: 汉人; traditional Chinese: 漢人; pinyin: Hànrén; lit. '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 Chaozhan areas following the establishment of the Tang dynasty.[citation needed] The Teochew people are those who speak the Teochew dialect and identify with Teochew culture, cuisine and customs.

Teochew people also commonly refer to each other as ga gi nang (Chinese: 自己人; pinyin: Zìjǐrén; lit. 'our own people').[citation needed]


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 (266–420).[2] The Teochews were often called Fulao (Hoklo) because they came mostly from Henan and Shanxi via Fujian, with well-maintained language and customs from ancient north-central China.[3] As was recorded in pedigrees and ancient inscriptions, one of the two groups of those who originally migrated to the capital city of Fujian later moved to Putian staying for at most one or two generations before being pressured to move to parts of Chaoshan instead in batches during the Tang Dynasty, genetically intermixing with the local people there.[4]

Geographic isolation and difficulty in traveling in the past made the Helao or Fulao become a relatively closed population.[citation needed]

The Teochew people are mistakenly known to the Cantonese 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.[5]

Teochew immigration to Singapore[edit]

Teochew Association in Muar, Johor, Malaysia.

From the 19th century, due to disadvantaged circumstances, significant numbers of Teochew people left their homeland for Singapore and a new life.[6] 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.[citation needed]

Today, Teochew is the second-most spoken Chinese dialect in Singapore.[citation needed] They are the second-largest Chinese dialect group in Singapore, comprising 21% of the Chinese population. As a result, they play a significant role in commerce and politics.

Teochew in Taiwan[edit]

Most of the Teochew descendants in Taiwan have already been "hokkienized" ("hoklonized"). They speak the Taiwanese Hokkien language instead of Teochew.[7] Some of them consider themselves as being Hakka. However, there are still some Teochew in Chaozhou township, in Pingtung County.[citation needed]

A 1926 Japanese census found that there were 134,800 people in Taiwan of Teochew ancestry.[8]


Chaozhou opera

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.[citation needed]

The Teochew language (Chinese: 潮州話) is spoken by roughly 10 million people in Chaoshan and more than five million outside the Chinese mainland.[citation needed]

Teochew cuisine is known for its distinctive sauces, seafood dishes, and stews.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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 to be similar to the Drum and Wind Music form of the Han and Tang Dynasties.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Yingge dance (Chinese: 英歌) is a form of Chinese folk dance originating in the Ming Dynasty. It is one of the most representative form of Teochew folk arts.[citation needed]

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. In 2019 Netflix released the documentary series Flavorful Origins, which focused on Teochew cuisine.

Notable Teochew people[edit]

See also[edit]

References and further reading[edit]

  • Gia Lim Tan, "Origins," An Introduction to the Culture and History of the Teochews in Singapore," ISBN 9813239352 World Scientific, 2018. doi:10.1142/10967


  1. ^ a b 10 Things You Must Know As A Teochew. The Teochew Store.
  2. ^ Genetic background associated with related populations at high risk for esophageal cancer between Chaoshan and Taihang Mountain areas in China (PDF), ScienceDirect, 2007, pp. 474–480
  3. ^ 蔡, 金河 (2007), "由民俗活动看潮汕文化对中华传统文化的传承", 广东史志·视窗年 第6期 (6): 71–73.
  4. ^ 广东潮州人的祖先来自福建?
  5. ^ Kingsley Bolton, Christopher Hutton, Triad societies: western accounts of the history, sociology and linguistics of Chinese secret societies, p. 93.
  6. ^ Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan (2010). 潮州八邑会馆与義安公司的历史渊源. Archived 12 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 18 January 2010
  7. ^ "「消失」的族群?南臺灣屏東地區廣東福佬人的身分與認同". 中央研究院臺灣史研究所臺灣史研究集刊 (in Chinese). 20 (1). 2013.
  8. ^ Taiwan Sotoku Kanbo Chosaka (1928). 台灣在籍漢民族鄉貫別調查 [Investigation of the regions of origin of Han people in Taiwan]. Taihoku-shi (Taipei): Taiwan Sotoku Kanbo Chosaka.

External links[edit]