When we talk about Dongguan locals, a lot of people think that they are only Cantonese; however, some are Hakka. In Dongguan, there are around 600,000 Hakka people in towns such as Zhangmutou, Fenggang, Qingxi and Daliangshan. With a population of around 180,000, Zhangmutou is the only town in Dongguan where all the permanent residents are Hakka. Therefore, the local language is Hakka instead of Cantonese or Mandarin.
According to the Zhangmutou Public Account on Sohu, the earliest existing information about the Hakka culture in that area was written in 1918 as a family record. The record mentioned a Hakka man named Wu Wulang, who lived there in 1275. According to different family records, most of the Hakkas in Zhangmutou came from the west of Fujian province, south of Jiangxi province and east and north of Guangdong province during the fourth and fifth Hakka people migration at the end of the Ming and beginning of the Qing dynasty. After 800 years of cultural preservation, you can still see the old Hakka style houses, taste the food and enjoy the music and traditional dances. Watch the famous Hakka Qilin Lion Dance in Zhangmutou during peak festivals such as Chinese New Year. To know more about the Hakka language, turn to page 61 for this month’s Mandarin Rules.