Teochew: more than a dialect

SOURCE: https://www.theteochewstore.org/blogs/latest/where-do-the-teochew-people-come-from

Where do the Teochew people come from? The Teochew region in southern China is the obvious answer.

Yet if one is to run a search on the Internet, he or she would find a string of references stating that our ancestors came hundreds of years ago from the Central Plains in the Yellow River reaches, thousands of miles away.

This theory concerning the Teochew people’s migratory origin has several variants. One that is circulating widely online is that our forebears were one of a few branches of Han Chinese, first displaced from northern China when the Jin dynasty lost control of its political heartland to invading "barbarians" in the 4th century. They managed to resettle in Putian district of Fujian province, but were uprooted again when the Mongol armies of Kublai Khan overran the Song dynasty in the 13th century. Eventually, they found sanctuary in the historical Teochew Prefecture, which was supposedly sparsely populated at the time. Due to long exposure and interaction with indigenous ethnic minorities whom they eventually displaced, Teochew people now have our own speech and cultural traits that are distinctive from other groups of Chinese.

Currently, the belief that Teochew people have their origins in the north is widely accepted and propagated in mainland China. However, its formation is fairly recent, and may be traced to the writings of its chief proponent, the late Professor Jao Tsung-I (饒宗頤), in the 1949 Chaozhou Gazetteer (潮州志).

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