Thursday, September 29, 2011

Huichew Hakka - Balik Pulau( 浮罗山背) & Luofu Mountain(罗浮山)

Talking about Balik Pulau, recently attended a Taiwan Hakka song presentation in Han Chiang school, Penang. The Taiwanese Hakka presented a song called " pu-lou-vok-teu"(浮罗鍋頭), which means Pot and Wok.


Pu-lou-vok-teu"(浮罗鍋頭), my aunty was so excited, pu-lou, the Hakka name for pot, can it be the name of Balik Pulau?...

Pu-lou is Chinese cooking pot(煲) is a cooker to cook Soup(汤), it is called "pu-lou" by the Huichew Hakka. Pu-lou(浮罗) is Hakka word for Chinese cooking pot, for soup.

"Vok teu"(鍋頭) means wok(鍋子) in Hakka, teu(头,頭) means head, vok-teu literally means wok head, it is normal for Hakka or even other Chinese dialects to add a word "head" to describe some living tools or things in their words. Like wood or muk(木) is muk-teu(木頭). But pu-lou as pot is something new to me.

Hakka of Balik Pulau are mainly from Huichew or Huizhou. Pu-lou is a very common word for Huichew Hakka family, as they need pot to cook soup in their daily food preparation. Can Balik Pulau be named after pu-lou, the Huichew name for cooking pot? The name for Balik Pulau?....

So pu-lou-vok-teu, pu-lou is the name of Pulou(浮罗)or Balik Pulau. What a amazing find!...

Balik Pulau, Penang

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The following was what I wrote on June 25, 2009 in my blog, about the possibility of the derivation of the name of Balik Pulau town:

The town people from Georgetown called it Pulo(浮罗)in their popular Hokkian dialect, which in Malay language it literally means island but to Penang Chinese it is the name of the Balik Pulau town. The local Hakka called it Pu-lo-san-puai, which mean the back of the hill at the place called Pulo(the island). Hokkian will called hill location sua-tau(山头/山頭) or sua-bui(山尾). The Hakka called san-puai(山背). Pulo-san-pei(浮罗山背), the Chinese(Mandarin) name was the name given by Hakka. The word for hill in Malay is Bukit, not Pulau; it may said Belakang Bukit or Sebalik Bukit for place behind the hill. The Malay word Balik Pulau, is literally means going back to the island or at the back of island. Balik Pulau may be the contaminated Malay or Pasar Malay word by the Hakka, when translating the wording pulo-san-puai. Pulo is the island in Malay, but it was the name of the place(not island) for the Hakka, pulo-san means pulo hill. pilo-san-puai means the back of the hill called pulo-hill. They may not able to say behind the hill in Malay, so they say it balik pulo(balik is behind, pulo is the place). This may indicate that the name Balik Pulau was derived from Hakka's pasar Malay. (Balik Pulau town (浮罗山背市区), Thursday, June 25, 2009,

Now what I understand Pulou is the Huichew Hakka word for "Chinese Cooking Pot". The name for Balik Pulau(浮罗).

Let us now know something of Hakka people....


The Hakka (客家, 客家人), sometimes Hakka Han, are Han Chinese who speak the Hakka language and have links to the provincial areas of Guangdong, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hunan and Fujian in China. There are Hakka in Taiwan. In Taiwan, Hakka people comprise about 15 to 20% of the population and are descended largely from Guangdong immigrants: they form the second-largest ethnic group on the island. According to German historian Ludwig Riess (December 1, 1861 - December 27, 1928), when the Dutch East Indian Company come to Taiwan, they employed the help of Hakka in Taiwan to translate native language for them.(臺灣客家人來台相當早,德國史學家Riess研究荷蘭史料發現:荷蘭人來台與原住民溝通時,多由客家人居中翻譯). This revealed Hakka had been in Taiwan for a long time.

The characters "客家"(Hakka) come from words indicating "visitors" or "travelers" and distinguish the Hakka from the Tujia ("natives"). The Hakka's ancestors were often said to have arrived from what is today's central China centuries ago. In a series of migrations, the Hakkas moved, settled in their present locations in southern China, and then often migrated overseas to various countries throughout the world

Early Penang Hakka
The early Penang Chinese who come earlier than Capt Francis Light was also Hakka.Penang people called the three Hakka Chinese Tua Pek kong in Hokkien, or in Hakka, tai-pak-kung(大伯公). Tue Pek is Hokkien for elder uncle. Tua Pek Kong was a man named Zhang Li (张理) from the Taipu Hakka clan. His Sumatra-bound boat was struck by wind and accidentally landed on Penang island of Malaysia in 1745, which at that time had only 50 inhabitants. Zhang and other 2 clan man landed at Penang island, they were Khoo Zhao Siang(丘兆祥) from Daipu Hakka,Ma Fu Choon(马福春) from Yongding(永定)Hakka. Zhang passed away before Francis Light arrived. Khoo and Ma should had met Capt Francis Light among the early 58 villagers from the island. After his death, the local people began worshipping him and built the Tua Pek Kong temple in Haichu-yu (Sea Pearl) Tua Pek Kong Temple(海珠屿大伯公庙)in Tanjung Tokong, Penang. Only until 1799(清代嘉庆四年) after founding of Penang, did a temple built for them. In 1801, a Hakka Chinses Chen Choon San(陈春生),with the approval of the British East India Company, was granted a piece of land to built a temple(福德祠大伯公庙) at King Street(大伯公街). The Hokkien people alos built “建德堂” in 1890, after the secret societies were banned by the British government. Today Tua Pek Kong is worshiped by Malaysian Chinese throughout the country.

However Hakka in Balik Pulau may arrived later, after Taiping Rebellion, even some Chinese planters and fishermen may have lived there earlier....

Teochew influence

As Huichew or Huizhoa, the ancenstry land of Huichew Hakka is located between Teochew linguistic region and Cantonese linguistic region, the interaction of the different dialect people with Huichew Hakka at Huizhoa, produced a distinctive type of culture and linguistic in the area. Let us look at the places called Shantou(汕頭)and Shanwei(汕尾), the Teochew sphere of influence. Shantou is typical Teochew area, but Shanwei is the area where there are cultural fusion of Teochew & Hakka.

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Shantou City(汕頭市)

Suátao or Swatow is today Shantou City(汕頭市), literally means head of the hill(山头/山頭)or beginning of the hill, is a prefecture-level city on the eastern coast of Guangdong province, People's Republic of China. Shantou, a port city significant in 19th-century Chinese history as one of the treaty ports established for Western trade and contact,commonly know as Swatow. This was the port that most of oversea Hakka and Teochew Chinese departed for Nanyang. Most residents are linguistically Teochew. There are also Hakka, popularly known as Half-Hakka (半山客), living mainly in Chaoyang District (潮陽區) and Chaonan District (潮南區), although they speak Teochew on a daily basis and practise Teochew culture.

Shanwei(汕尾市),shanwei literally means the tail of the hill(山尾) or the end of the hill. Shanwei (汕尾) is a prefecture-level city in Guangdong province of Southern China, People's Republic of China. It borders Jieyang to the east, Meizhou and Heyuan to the north, Huizhou to the west, and looks out to the South China Sea to the south. It lies approximately 120 km from Shenzhen and the locals speak the Haifeng dialect(海陆丰). The common linguistic is Shanwei Ho̍h-ló dialect(汕尾鶴佬話), a sub-group of Teochew or Chaozhou dialect, which belong to Mingnan dialect or Southern Min languages(閩南方言), which is commonly known as Hokkien dialect(福建話). The area of Hailufeng sub-group (海陆丰片)of Teochew dialect : including Shanwei (汕尾), Lufeng (陆丰) and Haifeng (海丰), which are all in Shanwei city.


In Manchu Dynasty, the two districts of Haifeng and Lufeng were under Huizhou-fu(清帝國時海豐、陸豐兩縣同屬惠州府). Together they were called Hailufeng in old time. Now, both Haifeng county and Lufeng city, together with Luhe County(陸河縣)are under Shanwei prefecture-level city. So sometime broadly Hailufeng is now refereed to Shanwei city.(陸豐縣及陸河縣的汕尾地級市,所以海陸豐亦泛指汕尾).

In Haifeng County (海豐)the people there speak a Teochew dialect related to Hoklo and Hakka, call Haifeng dialect(海丰话).

Lufeng City(陸豐) situated next to the county of Haifeng, the area is sometimes conjointly referred to as Hailufeng(海陸豐). People from east of Lufeng city speak mainly Teochew dialect, but local Hakka speak Hakka dialect( 陆丰市东部说潮州话,當地客家人則使用客家話(主要分布在陸河縣). The majority of residents are of Hoklo heritage; the rest are Hakka. Therefore both Min Nan and Hakka dialects are spoken.

Luhe County(陸河縣) mainly speak Hakka fusion of Hailufeng dialect(客家方言海陸片)

(Note: 清朝以前的居民以客家人為主,在明清的移民潮中,不斷從福建莆田仙遊一帶移民過來的[河洛人]很快帶來河洛文化,慢慢地當地原來的客家文化受到[河洛文化]很大的影響,到民國初年,已經有部份客家人只使用河洛話了,有些已經不使用客家話的客家人不再有客家認同感[來源請求],而認為自己是陸豐鶴佬人、河洛人或潮汕人、潮州人,但又有些人認為自己不是潮汕人,是海陸豐人).

Hoklo people 河洛文化

The Hoklo people (endonym Hok-ló, Hō-ló, or Ho̍h-ló) are Han people whose traditional Ancestral homes are in southern Fujian(福建)of South China. They are also known by various endonym as Hok-ló, Hō-ló, or Ho̍h-ló, or other related terms such as Min-nan people (閩南人) or Hokkiens (福建人). The Hoklo people refers mainly to people who speak and use the Hokkien dialect of Min Nan Chinese spoken in southern Fujian, Taiwan, and by many overseas Chinese throughout Southeast Asia.In wider scope, the Hoklo people can include speakers of other Min Nan languages, such as Zhongshan Min, Zhenan Min, Teochew dialect, and Hainanese.

河洛話:海陸豐常用河洛 (Hô-lo̍k; lit. "Yellow River and Luo River") – emphasizes their purported long history originating from the area south of the Yellow River. This Han-character reading does not reflect the actual pronunciation in the southern-Chinese languages but only in Mandarin. It is likely a result of folk etymology.

福佬話:粵閩客家人常用。福佬 (Hok-ló; lit. "Fujian person") – emphasizes their ancestry connection to Fujian province(福建省), normally used by Hakka .

鹤佬话:广府人用。鶴佬 (Ho̍h-ló; lit. "crane person", crane(鶴)is the name of bird) – emphasizes the modern pronunciation of the characters (without regard to the meaning of the Chinese characters). Normally used by Cantonese.

Now from Shanwei, we go further south, we are going to another linguistic fusion of Hakka and Cantonese in Huizhou. The Teochew influence weaken along the way as we go south toward Canton or Guangzhou, the sphere of Cantonese influence begin.


Huizhou (惠州) , historically known as Waichow, is a city located in central Guangdong province of the People's Republic of China. Part of the Pearl River Delta, Huizhou borders the provincial capital of Guangzhou to the west, Shaoguan to the north, Heyuan to the northeast, Shanwei to the east, Shenzhen and Dongguan to the southwest, and looks out to the South China Sea to the south. Its southern part made of Huiyang district is now part off guangzhou-Shenzhen built up area, the biggest built up area in the world with more than 40 million inhabitants encompassing the whole Shenzhen, Dongguan cities and main part of Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhongsghan and small parts of Jiangmen and Huizhou cities.

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The prefecture-level city of Huizhou administers 5 county-level divisions, including 2 districts and 3 counties. Huicheng District(惠城区) and Huiyang District(惠阳区); Boluo County(博罗县), Huidong County(惠东县) ,Longmen County(龙门县).

There are two main dialects spoken by local people in Huizhou: A Cantonese dialect which is Huizhouhua (惠州话/惠州話) and Hakka (客家话/客家話).

The population in Huizhou are mainly Han people(惠州汉族), most are Huizhou Hakka(客家人) and Huizhou people(惠州人/本地人), there is some Ho̍h-ló(鹤佬人) and Guangfu(广府人)。

Hakka are mainly in the city but also spread to other districts and county(客家人在市内各市辖区、县都有分布). Ho̍h-ló(鹤佬人)is mainly concentrated in Huiyang District(惠阳区)、Boluo County(博罗县)and Huidong County(惠东县). Guangfu(广府人)or Cantonese are in Longmen County(龙门县)、Boluo County(博罗县)。

Huizhou prefecture-level city(惠州市) is the linguistic fusion city with three dialects(三大方言的交汇区), Hakka(客家话)、Guangfu or Cantonese(粤语)、 and Teochew(潮汕话). Currently, Mandarin as official language is popular, especially among young generation. But the influence of Hakka is the most significant(客家话是影响最大的方言). 在下属县区里,客家话是影响最大的方言。

In Huicheng District(惠城区) and Boluo County(博罗县), Huizho dialect is still popular. Huizho dialect is a local dialect which is heavily influenced by Hakka and Guangful/Cantonese. The dialect is also called Dongjiang dialect(东江本地话),which is slowly dying in the area. The local people are able to speak Cantonese, Mandarin is the official language.

惠州客 (Huizhou Hakka/Huichiew Hakka)



Huizhou Hakka's mother river - Dongjiang(广东惠州客家人的母亲河——东江)

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Luofushan, the mountain of Huizhou Hakka (广东惠州客家人世代生活的山——博罗的罗浮山)

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Noted: place marked A is Luofusan(罗浮山)


Can the name of Balik Pulau, Pulou is derived from Boluo(博罗) of Boluo County(博罗县)?Boluo, Boluo, Pulou, is close in sound; moreover there is a hill in Boluo called Luofu-shan(罗浮山), if you turn around the word, it become 浮罗, the same word as Pulou(浮罗) it coincident or the Huichew Hakka ancestor in Balik Pulau had already named it after the hill in their ancestry land in Boluo County in Huizhou?.....

Can I said this was the story of the name of Balik Pulau?. It was named by Huichew Hakka in Balik Pulau, using the name of the hill in Huizhou and the Malay world Pulau, which means island. To them Pulau is pu-lou, is a hill, they call Pulau Hill, sound similar to the hill in Huizhou, Luofu Mountain in Boluo(博罗). At the back of island(pulou,浮罗) and the hill is Pulau Hill or pu-lou-san(浮罗山), to them pu-lou is a hill. Pu-lou-san-pui(浮罗山背) is at the back of Pulau Hill. It is not Hokkien name as they will call Pu-lou-sua-bui(浮罗山尾) similar to the name given to Shanwei city((汕尾市). It must be Hakka name as pu-lou-san-pui(浮罗山背). It cannot be Malay name, at the back of the hill is be " Belakang Bukit", not Balik Pulau which literally means returning to island, which is not meaningful as Balik Pulau is already in the island. The name will not be logical to Malay language. Belakang is 3 words to Chinese, be-la-kang; Balik is two words, ba-lik. They will not choose a name which is difficult to pronounce by them for the new language(pasar Melayu) they just learn and acquired for their daily usage. So they already name the hill, pu-lou-hill, what to call the place at the back of the hill, to be correct in Malay languae it should be Belakang pu-lou-hill(Belakang Bukit Pulau). It become a long name. The Chinese will not name a long name, slowly it will shorten to either one word or two words, slowly only pu-lou(where the local Hokkien still call it)will remain. But why Balik Pulau instead of only named it Pulau like Hokkien Chinese called it? Pulau, unlike pu-lou will be confusing as there are many islands around Penang island. Pulau Bedong is one of them. But the home sick Huichew Hakka, still thinking of their ancestry land, slowly use balik to relate to coming home. Coming home to pu-lou-hill(浮罗山) after a day work, which is also a name quite similar name to the Luofu-shan(罗浮山)at their home land. This solved psychologically their home sickness.

Suddenly discovered that Huichew Hakka called pot, a type of Chinese cooking utensil as "pulou", which have a similar sound as Malay word " Pulau"(which means island). Can it be the reason the Chinese name of Balik Pulau derived? Balik Pulau is a Hakka town to Chinese. Hakka people was in Balik Pulau even before the establishment of the political administration in 1880(district office established). There were many tombstones of pioneer Hakka dated back to 1856,mostly Huichiew Hakka( 惠州客). Most of the Hakka are mainly Huichiew, and Chaozhou Hakka or pan-san-hak(半山客) which include Hailukfong(海豐,陸豐),hobo(河婆,現改成揭西縣), and daipu(大埔) Hakka.

Huichew Penang(檳榔嶼惠州人)

The early Hakka immigrants in Penang appeared to have consisted mainly of three groups: the Chia-ying Hakkas(嘉应客), the Tengchow(汀州) or Yongding(永定)Hakkas and the Huichew Hakkas(惠州客). This can be seen from the fact that the founding of their dialect associations in 1801, 1819 and 1822 respectively. The development of Penang as free port open the opportunity for Huichew Hakkas, some of them come direct from Huizhou, but others from Kalimantan. From Penang, some of them moved to North to Kedah, others moved to Perak, especially tin mines at Klian Bahru(新吉輦) 吉輦包, now Kamunting(霹靂甘文丁錫礦區), near today's Taiping were the areas where pioneer Huichew Hakkas settled. Huichew Hakkas are experienced tin mine workers.

Around 1848 'Che Long Ja'afar introduced Chinese miners to Larut (spelt Laroot or Larot at that time). The original mine field, Klian Pauh is where the jail at Taiping stands today. Long Ja'afar appointed Low Sam from Penang as agent and Low Sam was associated with Chung Keng Quee. "Five Associations" or Go-Kuan (Chinese: 五館 or 五群)whose members worked in the mines of Klian Pauh(吉輦包),Chung Keng Quee was the leader, and also Hai San. The Cantonese was under "Four Associations" or Si Kuan, whose members worked in the mines of Klian Baharu(新吉輦).

From 1860 to 1874, Huichew Hakkas were involved in two Larut Wars(霹靂拉律戰事)with Hai San. Huichew Hakkas were members of Ghee Hin( 義興党), unlike other Hakkas who were member Hai San. The Hai San was under Kapitan China Chung Keng Quee(鄭景貴), also Hakka from Zengcheng(增城),Guangdong.

In 1862,after the second Larut War, when Huichew leader So Ah Chiang(蘇亞松) was killed, most Huichew moved to tin mines in Selangor ,and few left in Taiping tin mines. The Hui Chew Hakka from the Ghee Hin from the earlier two battles having gone down to Selangor to join Yap Ah Loy, a Hui Chew Hakka who was head of the Hai San in Selangor. The Huichew were not involved with the later two Larut Wars.

After the Larut War when the Huichew were defeated by Hai San, many moved back to Penang, and involved in agriculture. They planted nutmegs, peppers, and spices, especially in Province Wellesley, they were also involved in sugar cane planting in Bukit Mertajam. In Pulau Betong, Sungai Ara, Teluk Kumbar of the Penang island, there were Huichew who were involved in agriculture,charcoal and fishing. In Balik Pulau, there are still many Huichew settlement still remained until today.



Lo Chung Huo(罗仲霍,1881~1911) was one of the 72 martyrs who died during the 1911 uprising, was a Huizhou from Penang. On April 27,1911(March 29, Lunar year Xinhai), Tongmenghui, a revolutionary Organization, led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen launched an uprising to overthrow the federal Qing dynasty to build a new democratic country, but unfortunately the effort failed. Peilun Yu, Wen Lin, Jumin Lin, Shingdong Fang and over 100 other Participants died. Mr. Dawei Pan collected seventy-two bodies then and buried them in Huanghua Gang or Huanghua Hill, literally means yellow flower hill, now known as Huanghua Gang Commemoration Park (黄花岗公园)in Guangzhou. Seventy-two martyrs were found and buried here, it was later determined that there were 86 martyrs, including 30 who were overseas Chinese . The cemetery was begun in 1912 and finished in 1921.

Not only in Balik Pulau, Huichew Hakka also dominated in Bukit Mertajam and central Province Wellesley.

Huichew Association of Penang(惠州会馆)

Huichew Association of Penang(惠州会馆)was formed in 1822, part of Prangin Road( now Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong) east of Carnarvon Street in Georgetown, was known as Hūi-chiu-kong-si-ke(惠州公司街)or literally means Huichew association street by local Chinese.

槟城惠州会馆位于马来西亚槟城。创立于清道光二年六月初六。至迟清道光二年六月初六(23─7─1822),惠州属同人已组织惠州公司,当时有乡老归善人李兴以墨西哥银(又名鹰洋)325元购得砖瓦屋两间及地皮一段,无条件捐赠给惠州同乡充作会馆。当成立之初,定名为“惠州会馆”,凡居住乡村僻埠之同乡,因事至槟城者,均以会馆为憩息之所;从中国南下的同乡亦通过会馆为跳版,深入内陆开拓农业及矿业。因此,联络梓谊,实深利赖。 后来利昂康伯氏(LEON─COMBER)写的《马来亚的华族私会党》(CHINESE SECRET SOCIETIES IN MALAYA,1800-1900)曾引用这份资料把它们当作是槟城华族私会党的七个最早组织──结果“惠州公司”也因而被归纳为会党。槟城惠州会馆由乡贤李兴(淡水人)于清道光八年(1828年)创立,初名为“惠州公司”,后易名为“惠州会馆”。



Pu-lou, Huizhou, Hakka, Balik Pulau....what an interesting connection.....

Further readings/references
1. Chinese wok,
2. Wok,
3. 客家, 客家
5. Balik Pulau Hakka(浮罗山背的客家人),
6. 潮汕半山客,
7. 半山客名稱之由來,
8. 惠州客家人,
9. 槟城惠州会馆,
10. 惠州南洋华侨社团简介,
13. 槟城惠州会馆180年: 跨越三个世纪的拓殖史实, 王琛发,槟榔屿惠州会馆, 2003
14. 森美兰惠州会馆史略及现况,王琛发,

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