Teochew Letters 僑批
Teochew is a region located in the eastern part of Guangdong province, China. Its population has a distinctive maritime tradition. Due to circumstances in history, hundreds of thousands of Teochew people were forced to migrate to Southeast Asia between the 19th and mid-20th century.
Even away in foreign lands, the overseas Teochews adhered to their traditional values and kept their strong affinity for home. Regardless of location or occupation, they always sent a portion of their income, no matter how meagre, along with a letter to awaiting family members. This was done faithfully through community connections. This unique combination of remittance and correspondence is known as the Teochew Letters ("Qiaopi" in Mandarin).
For a long period in recent history, as many as half of the population in the Teochew region was dependent on the remittances from their overseas-based family members. The Teochew Letters provided a vital emotional link for love ones separated by the sea and served as an economic lifeline for the whole Teochew community. Individually, each letter records the memories of a family. Collectively, the tens of thousands of Teochew Letters represent the collective consciousness of a people and a precious documentary archive.
潮州地區, 位於中國廣東省的東部。過去潮人一向靠海為生, 由於歷史的原因, 從19世紀至20世紀中期, 潮州的民眾大量漂洋過海到東南亞各國謀生。
歷代海外僑胞遵循傳統倫理道德, 保留了強烈“家”的意識。不論身在何方, 從事什麼工作, 都會通過民間管道將微薄的勞動所得和家書托寄給家鄉的長輩和妻兒。這種“銀信合封” 特殊寄匯方式, 被稱為“僑批”。 “僑”指的是華僑, 而“批”在潮州方言裡是“信”的意思。
過去約佔潮州總人口一半的僑眷, 都靠海外寄回的批款維持生計。僑批不僅是維繫海外僑胞與家鄉親人情感的重要紐帶, 也是潮州社會的經濟“生命線”。當年一封薄薄的僑批,是遠隔千里的遊子把溫暖和關愛傳送給家鄉親人的方式。如今這千萬封僑批共同成為潮人經歷那一段多事之秋的歷史見證。
This website was originally developed by a student project team from the Shantou University (STU) Cheung Kong School of Journalism and Communication on behalf of the Museum of Overseas Remittance Mail Relics, managed by the Research Centre for Chaoshan History and Culture in Swatow.
Management and staff of Museum of Overseas Remittance Mail Relics
Interviewees: Chen Xuanzhu, Chen Zhenlong, Huang Muhai, Huang Shaoxiong, Wei Bihui, Xu Kunshu, Xu Shouzhi, Xu Yunsheng, Zeng Yifen, Zeng Xubo and Zhang MeishengAudio Reading: Yao Wenjin, Xu Xiuying, Huang Xiaoling, Zhuang Jingzhong, Zeng Xubo, Wu Yichen and Chen Jiamin
Zhang Meisheng for permitting use of information from his book Chaoshan Qiaopi Jianshang;
Terence Tan for permitting use of images from his book Memories of Old Swatow;
Ling Shyue-min for providing studio photography support in this project.
特別感謝 張美生, 允許使用《潮汕僑批鑒賞》中的僑批資料; 陳傳忠, 允許使用《汕頭舊影》中的圖片;
Do You Know? The “Qiaopi and Yinxin Correspondence and Remittance Documents from Overseas Chinese” documentary heritage submitted by China was accepted into the UNESCO
Memory of the World Register in June 2013. The archival collection has 160,000 pieces of artefacts, of which over 100,000 originate from the Teochew region.