Open main menu

The Teochew people (also known as Tiê-Chiu in romanized Teochew, Chaozhou in Mandarin, and Chiuchow in Cantonese) are a Chinese people native to the historical Chaozhou prefecture (now the Chaoshan region) of eastern Guangdong province who speak the Teochew dialect. Today, most Teochew people live outside China in Southeast Asia, especially in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia. They can also be found almost anywhere in the world, including North America, Australia and France.[citation needed]

Teochew people
Regions with significant populations
Greater China (Guangdong, Hong Kong), Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia), North America (United States, Canada), Australasia (Australia, New Zealand), France
Teochew + language(s) of their country of residence
Predominantly Chinese folk religions (including Taoism, Confucianism, ancestral worship and others) and Mahayana Buddhism.
Related ethnic groups
other Han Chinese
Teochew people

The Teochew speak the Chinese Teochew dialect of Southern Min; Teochew cuisine is also distinctive. The ancestors of the Teochew people moved to present-day Chaoshan from the Central Plains of China in order to escape from a series of civil wars during the Jin dynasty (265–420).[1]



Teochew can be romanised in a variety of schemes, and are known in Mandarin as cháo zhōu rén and Cantonese as Chiuchao yan. In referring to themselves as ethnic Chinese, Teochew people generally use Deung nang (Chinese: 唐人; pinyin: Tángrén; literally: "Tang Dynasty people"), as opposed to Hang nang (simplified Chinese: 汉人; traditional Chinese: 漢人; pinyin: Hànrén; literally: "Han Dynasty people").

Teochew people of the diaspora would generally use ting nang (Chinese: 唐人; pinyin: tangrén) to indicate Chinese heritage in a cultural sense. tingnang and tangren are broadly used by Teochew, Hokkien as well as Cantonese Chinese people living outside of China, referring to their maintaining a substantial cultural identity they consider to be Chinese. The identification of "tingnang" could perhaps be due to their early affiliation with the Tang dynasty. It is possible that a large number of Teochew people were immigrants from Northern China who came to settle down in the Chaozhan areas following the establishment of the Tang dynasty. The Teochew people are those who speak the Teochew dialect and identify with Teochew culture, cuisine and customs.

Teochew people also commonly refer to each other as ga gi nang (Chinese: 自己人; pinyin: Zìjǐrén; literally: "our own people").[citation needed]


Historically, these people were called Helao or Fulao (Hoklo), as they came mostly from Henan and Shanxi via Fujian,[1] with well-maintained language and customs from ancient north-central China.[2] As was recorded in pedigrees and ancient inscriptions, one of the two groups of those who originally migrated to Putian later decided to settle in Chaoshan instead in batches during the Tang Dynasty and soon spread all over the Chaoshan area, genetically intermixing with the local people there.[3]

Geographic isolation and difficulty in traveling in the past made the Helao or Fulao become a relatively closed population.[citation needed]

The Teochew people are known to Cantonese speakers as "Hoklo", literally meaning "men of Fujian", although the term "Teochew" was used in the Straits Settlements in the 19th century and early 20th century. "Teochew" is derived from Teochew prefecture (Chaozhou Fu) the departmental city where they originate.[4]

Teochew immigration to SingaporeEdit

From the 19th century, due to disadvantaged circumstances, significant numbers of Teochew people left their homeland for Singapore and a new life.[5] Early Teochew settlers could trace their origins to eight counties/prefectures: Chao'an, Chenghai, Chaoyang, Jieyang, Raoping, Puning, Huilai and Nan'ao. In addition to these new immigrants from the port of Swatow (Shantou), there were Teochew people relocating to Singapore from Siam and the Riau Islands.[citation needed]

Today, Teochew is the second-most spoken Chinese dialect in Singapore.[citation needed] They are the second-largest Chinese group in Singapore, comprising 21% of the Chinese population. As a result, they play a significant role in commerce and politics.

Teochew in TaiwanEdit

Most of the Teochew descendants in Taiwan have already been "hokkienized" ("hoklonized"). They speak the Taiwanese Hokkien language instead of Teochew.[6] Some of them consider themselves as being Hakka. However, there are still some Teochew in Chaojhou township, in Pingtung County.[citation needed]

A 1926 Japanese census found that there were 134,800 people in Taiwan of Teochew ancestry.[7]


Chaozhou Opera.

Throughout a history of over 1000 years, the region of Chaoshan, known in ancient times as Teochew Prefecture, has developed and cultivated a prestigious culture which manifests its unique characteristics in language, opera, cuisine, tea practice, music, and embroidery.

The Teochew dialect (Chinese: 潮州話) is considered[by whom?] one of the oldest Chinese dialects as it preserves many features from ancient Chinese that have been lost in some of its counterparts.[citation needed] It is spoken by roughly 10 million people in Chaoshan and more than five million outside the Chinese mainland.

Teochew opera (Chinese: 潮劇) is a traditional art form which has a history of more than 500 years and is now enjoyed by 20 million Teochew people in over 20 countries and regions.[citation needed] Based on local folk dances and ballads, Teochew opera has formed its own style under the influence of Nanxi Opera. Nanxi is one of the oldest Chinese operas and originated in the Song Dynasty. The old form of choral accompaniment still preserves its distinctive features[which?]. Clowns and females are the most distinctive characters in Teochew opera, and fan-play and acrobatic skills are prominent.

Teochew music (Chinese: 潮州音樂) is popular in Chaoshan's teahouse scene. The Teochew string instrument, gong, drum, and traditional Chinese flute are typically involved in ensembles. The current Chaozhou drum music is said[by whom?] to be similar to the Drum and Wind Music form of the Han and Tang Dynasties.

Teochew woodcarving(Chinese: 潮州木雕) is a form of Chinese woodcarving originating from the Tang Dynasty. It is very popular in Chaoshan. Teochew people used a great deal of Teochew wood carving in their buildings.[citation needed]

Yingge Dance.

Yingge dance(Chinese: 英歌)is a form of Chinese folk dance originating in the Ming Dynasty. It is one of the most representative form of Teochew folk arts.[citation needed]

Although few movies or television dramas have been made about the Teochew people, one such notable drama is the Singaporean 1995 drama series The Teochew Family.

Notable Teochew peopleEdit

The people in this may include those who are full-blooded to partial Teochew ancestry.


Companies created by Teochews.

Film directorsEdit

  • Mainland China
    • Zheng Zhengqiu (鄭正秋/郑正秋; Dên Zianciu) (1888–1935; Chaoyang, Guangdong), director; his film Nan Fu Nan Qi (難夫難妻/难夫难妻; Nang Hu Nang Ci) was the first feature film in China's history
    • Cai Chusheng (蔡楚生; Cua Cosên) (1906–1968; Chaoyang, Guangdong), director; his film Yu Guang Qu (漁光曲/渔光曲; Heu Guang Kêg) received the first international film prize in China's history
  • Hong Kong
    • Ringo Lam (林嶺東/林岭东; Lin Lindong; Lim Lingdang) (1954–; Chaozhou, Guangdong), director
    • Herman Yau (邱禮濤/邱礼涛; Qiu Litao; Yau Loito) (1961–; Chaozhou, Guangdong), director
  • Singapore
    • Ken Kwek (1979-; director, his feature film "Unlucky Plaza" (2014) won him the Best Director prize at the Tehran Jasmine Film Festival.
    • Kirsten Tan (1981-; director, her debut feature film "Pop Aye" won the Special Jury prize in Screenwriting in the Sundance Film Festival (2017)

Literary figures and the ArtsEdit

Mainland China
  • Da-Wen Sun (孫大文/孙大文) (Chaozhou, Guangdong), world authority in food engineering education and research
  • Xu Dishan (许地山) (1893–1941; Jieyang, Guangdong), philosopher
  • Hong Zicheng (洪子誠/洪子诚; Hong Zeshin) (1939–; Chaozhou, Guangdong), scholar in the field of the history of literature
  • Chen Pingyuan (陳平原/陈平原; Tan Pêngnguang) (1954–; Chaozhou, Guangdong), literary professor
Hong Kong
United States
  • Wena Poon (方慧娜) (1974–), born in Singapore, novelist
  • Choo Hoey (朱晖, 1934 -) is a Singaporean musician and conductor. His father, Choo Seng, migrated from Chaozhou and his mother from Nanjing. He founded the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and was also its first resident conductor and music director
  • Chen Chong Swee (陈宗瑞) (b. 1910-85, Swatow, Guangdong), also known as Chen Kai, was a painter, educator, writer and critic. Chen belonged to the pioneering group of artists of the Nanyang Style
  • Chua Lam (蔡澜/蔡瀾; Chai Lan; Cua Lam) (1941–; Chaozhou, Guangdong), columnist, food critic, and movie producer[14]


  • Alice Wong (黄陳小萍), Minister of State for Seniors; the first Chinese-Canadian woman sitting in Cabinet


Mainland China
United States
  • Michael Chang (1972–; Chaozhou, Guangdong; born in the United States), former professional tennis player


Mainland China
Hong Kong
  • Canti Lau (劉錫明/劉锡明; Liu Ximing; Liu Siahmêng) (1964–; Chaoyang, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), actor and singer
  • Damian Lau (劉松仁/刘松仁; Liu Songren; Lau Cungjan) (1949–; Chaozhou, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), film and television actor, executive producer and film director
  • Sammul Chan (陳鍵鋒/陈键锋; Chén Jiànfēng; Chan Gin-fung) (1978–; Chaozhou, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), actor, singer
  • Emil Chau (周華健/周华健; Zhou Huajian; Chiu Hua-giang) (1960–; Chaoyang, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), actor and singer
  • Matthew Ko (高鈞賢/高钧贤; Gao Junxian; Gao Jao-ghao) (1984–; Chaozhou, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), model
  • Kwong Wa (江華/江华; Jiang Hua; Gang Hua) (1962–; Shantou, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), actor and singer
  • Miriam Yeung (楊千嬅/杨千桦; Yang Qianhua; Yêng Cainhua) (1974–; Jieyang, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), actress and singer
  • Sammi Cheng (鄭秀文/郑秀文; Zheng Xiuwen; Dên Siu-mung) (1972–; Chenghai, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), actress and singer
  • Ada Choi (蔡少芬/蔡少芬; Cai Shaofen; Choi Siufun) (1973–; Chaoshan, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), actress
  • Steven Ma (馬浚偉/马浚伟; Ma FengWei; Maa Zeonwai) (1971–; Chaozhou, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), actor and singer
  • Stephen Wong Cheung-Hing (黃長興) (1978–; Shantou, Guangdong; born in Hong Kong), actor
South Korea
United Kingdom


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Genetic background associated with related populations at high risk for esophageal cancer between Chaoshan and Taihang Mountain areas in China (PDF), ScienceDirect, 2007, pp. 474–480
  2. ^ 蔡, 金河 (2007), "由民俗活动看潮汕文化对中华传统文化的传承", 广东史志·视窗年 第6期 (6): 71–73.
  3. ^ 广东潮州人的祖先来自福建?
  4. ^ Kingsley Bolton, Christopher Hutton, Triad societies: western accounts of the history, sociology and linguistics of Chinese secret societies, pg 93.
  5. ^ Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan(2010). 潮州八邑会馆与義安公司的历史渊源.[dead link] Retrieved 18 January 2010
  6. ^ "的族群?南臺灣屏東地區廣東福佬人的身分與認同=Had They Disappeared? The Identity of Guangdong Hoklo People in Pingtung Plain of Southern Taiwan".
  7. ^ Taiwan Sotoku Kanbo Chosaka (1928). 台灣在籍漢民族鄉貫別調查 [Investigation of the regions of origin of Han people in Taiwan]. Taihoku-shi (Taipei): Taiwan Sotoku Kanbo Chosaka.
  8. ^ Woopidoo. Lee Ka Shing Biography. Retrieved 21 January 2010
  9. ^ Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, (2015), A General History of the Chinese in Singapore, pg 750. Published in the Chinese language
  10. ^ Ching-Hwang Yen, (2017), Ethnicities, Personalities and Politics in the Ethnic Chinese Worlds, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte Ltd, Singapore, pg 120.
  11. ^ Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), (2007), Elements of Enterprise: 100 Years of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SNP International Publishing, Singapore, pg 39. A Centennial Publication of the SCCCI
  12. ^ SCCCI, (2007), Elements of Enterprise: 100 Years of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SNP International Publishing, Singapore, pg 39. A Centennial Publication of the SCCCI
  13. ^ Nanyang Confucian Association, (2014), Nanyang Confucian Association: A Centennial Publication, Wincraft, Singapore, September, pg 44.
  14. ^ Lam, C. (1996). Eating in Hong Kong 1997. World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd.
  15. ^ De Borja, M. R. and Douglass, W. A. (2005). Basques in the Philippines. Las Vegas: University of Nevada Press.
  16. ^ a b

External linksEdit