The China Hakka Museum recently opened in Meizhou City, Guangdong Province.
April 16, 2009 will be a date remembered by Hakka people all over the world as it marked the opening of the first national museum entirely devoted to their history and culture. The former Guangdong Hakka Museum was officially raised from provincial to national status and renamed the China Hakka Museum. The museum is located in Meizhou, the cultural and spiritual home of the Hakka people. It houses the most complete and comprehensive exposition of Hakka history and culture in the world. The richness of the museum's collection and the unique design of its buildings clearly merit the museum's new national status, and its managers are determined to achieve recognition as one of China's first class national museums by 2011.
The origins of Meizhou City
Many of the 5 million people who live in Meizhou are Hakkas. Known in Mandarin as Kejia or "Guest People," Hakkas are descended from Han people who migrated south through Jiangxi and western Fujian Province during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Although they have been "guests" for many centuries, the Hakka people have preserved their identity and Meizhou is where their distinctive culture developed most fully. Meizhou people retain a strong sense of identity and have preserved their traditional customs and culture. Meizhou dialect has been adopted as the standard Hakka language, and the area is home to the greatest number and most complete examples of traditional Hakka roundhouses – the fortified dwellings shared by several families that are the most recognizable trademark of Hakka culture. Meizhou is also the best place to see traditional Hakka art forms such as opera and puppet opera.
In recent centuries Hakka people have migrated all over the world. At the twelfth World Hakka Congress, Meizhou was honored as the "world capital of the Hakka people" and acknowledged as the emotional and cultural homeland of Hakka people around the world.
The first national Hakka museum opens in Meizhou City, Guangdong Province.
The China Hakka Museum cost 130 million yuan to build and at 15,000 square meters is the biggest domestic Hakka museum. Its regular exhibition "Hakka People" consists of five parts: the origin of the Hakka, Hakka customs, Hakka roundhouses, the humanity of the Hakkas, and the future of the Hakka people.
The museum is also a research center on Hakka culture. Its magazine Hakka Culture Review is the only academic publication exclusively devoted to the in-depth study of Hakka history and customs.
The China Hakka Museum is located on Dongshan Avenue in downtown Meizhou and is made up of the Hakka Main Hall and three ancillary halls: Huang Zunxian Memorial Hall, University Presidents Hall and Generals Hall. The three ancillary halls hold collections recalling the achievements of famous Hakka people. The exhibition of Hakka historical and cultural relics in the main hall attracts Hakka people from around China and overseas to come back to visit their roots. It has welcomed more than 300,000 visitors since it opened last April.
The government is planning to build several other halls such as Lin Fengmian Memorial Hall (in honor of a famous Chinese modern artist), a Hakka folk art hall and a Hakka stele hall.
(China.org.cn by Ren Zhongxi, April 17, 2009)