Collection Description

Culture Name

Taiwan Hokkien

Culture Description

The Hokkien are the major ethnic group of Taiwan, migrating from Fujian Province, People's Republic of China, between 1600 and 1890. They speak the Southern Min dialect of southern Fujian. Until 1950s, Hokkien Taiwanese were farmers and fishermen. Since then they have became successful entrepreneurs leading Taiwan's remarkable postwar industrial transformation and growth. With the lifting of martial law in 1989, they have also become among the nation's political leaders and elite.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --East Asia




OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by eHRAF document number and author.

The Taiwan Hokkien collection consists of 64 documents, all in English. None of the 64 documents maybe considered a comprehensive general survey of Taiwanese Hokkien culture or society. Given the variability of cultural forms among Hokkien, in such institutional realms for example, as kinship and religion, it is doubtful that such a survey could even be written. Yet it is precisely this variability, and the highly sophisticated use of social theory employed in many of these documents, that make this collection extremely rich for cross-cultural or comparative studies (researchers should check for time and place coverage to determine the specific collection focus for the document he or she is using, since the generalizations made by authors often apply only to specific fieldwork locales rather than to the entire collection unit). Specific areas of inquiry for which the cross-cultural researcher will find this collection rewarding include the relationship between varieties of religious belief and community structure, the relationship of ecology and settlement patterns to lineage organization, and patterns of family/household organization.

According to main subject matter, the 64 documents in this collection may be grouped as follows:

RELIGION: 6: Ahern (ancestor worship and lineage organization), 8: Jordan (supernatural beings, the ritual activities of family units), 11: Harrell (the credibility of various folk-religious tenets), 16: DeGlopper (temples and public rituals in an urban setting), 17: Wang (urban religious organizations and historical change), 18: Feuchtwang (home and temple altars, ceremonial calendar, supernatural beings), 20: Wang (temples, shrines, and domestic altars), 21: Harrell (supernatural beings), 23: Shipper (textual analysis of a written Taoist prayer), 24: Saso (Taoist priesthood), 32: Harrell (ritual activities and their relationship to spatial and social organization), 36: Seaman (funeral ceremony and women's ritual uncleanliness), 37: Ahern (a local religious festival as a marker of identity), 41: Wolf (ancestor worship and lineage organization), 42: Harrell (ancestor worship and lineage organization), 43: Li (ancestor worship and geomancy), 44: Wang (ancestor worship and lineage organization, 45: McCreery (Taoist magic), 49: Rohsenow (community religious festivals), 53: Seaman (relationship between religious cult activity and politics), and 64: Harrell (concepts of the soul). The following documents also discuss illness and traditional medical practice: 60: Ahern, 61: Tseng, 62: Martin, 63: Ahern, 71: Gould-Martin. Some further information on religion is also found in 9: Diamond, 13: Sangren (cults and pilgrimages), and in 72: Harrell.

FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLD STRUCTURE: 7: Wolf (with an emphasis on women's roles), 22: Ahern (affinal relations), 25: Spear (extended family structure and rural-urban migration), 26: Gallin (the kinship networks of rural migrants in cities), 28: Wolf (child rearing and socialization), 29: Ahern (notions of ideal family structure and women's pollution), 35: Suing (rural family structure and household composition), 56: Buxbaum (family law, marriage and residence patterns), 57: Gallin (family and kinship in the context of rural-urban migration), 58: Parish (household composition in relation to rural-urban migration and urbanization, 59: Harrell (focussing on the aged), and 72: Harrell (culture change in family structure). The following documents treat the subject of the minor form of marriage and the raising of SIMPUA, "little daughters-in-law": 39: Wolf, 40: Wolf, 51: Wolf.

POLITICS: 15: Jacobs (factions in a rural township), 31: Chen (political brokers and the emergence of new types of leaders), 47: Jacobs (factions in a rural township), 53: Seaman (political activity in relation to a religious cult), 55: Gallin (factions in a village), and 69: Gallin (mediation and conflict resolution.

ECONOMY: 9: Diamond (survey of a fishing village), 12: Chen (agriculture and economic change), 13: Sangren (marketing systems), 30: DeGlopper (informal mechanisms of exchange, credit), 46: Crissman (marketing systems and central-place theory), 52: Huang (agriculture in the context of industrial development, and 72: Harrell (socio-economic change).

SOCIAL ORGANIZATION: 5: Pasternak (lineages and community structure, 27: DeGlopper (historical study of social structure in the town of Lukang), 32: Harrell (lineages in relation to patterns of rural land settlement), 33: Wickberg (historical study of land ownership and tenancy during the Japanese occupation), 34: Lamley ("subethnic" rivalries in the Ch'ing period), 50: DeGlopper (historical study of social structure in the town of Lukang), 68: Ahern (lineage segmentation and settlement patterns, and 72: Harrell (social inequality and social relationships within the community).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 73: HRAF (a list of bibliographical citations on Taiwan Hokkien.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in the collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

The culture summary was written by Ian Skoggard in November 2001. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by Michael A. Marcus.

Overview by

Michael A. Marcus

CHIA (JIA)--family--Categories 592, 596

CHIA CHANG--family head; head of a stem family--Categories 592, 594, 596

CHIH PAI HSIUNG TI--"sworn brothers"; a group of long-term friends--Category 573

CH'IN CH'I--matrilineal and affinal relatives--Category 612

CH'IN T'ANG--people who share a common surname but can't trace

relationship--Category 614; both Categories 613 and 618 are portions of a surname group

CHIH--a branch of the TSU--Category 618

FANG--a sub TSU--Category 618

farmers' associations--Category 474

government activities which influence village affairs at the so-called community level have been marked for the relevant 65* categories

HO (HU)--household--Category 592

HSIANG--a political unit consisting of several villages--Category 632

HSIEN--a county, consisting of several HSIANG--Category 634

KAN-CH'ING--good or bad sentiment; feelings or relationships between individuals--Category 571

KE--"family"--Category 592; in it joint family phase--Category 596

KONG-THIA--altar--Categories 778, 769

JIA (see CHIA )--family--Category 592

landlords as a class--Categories 556, 565

LI--Category 632

LIN--neighborhood--Category 621

LIN CHANG--neighborhood chief--Category 624

lineages--Category 613; in some places the lineages are localized and act as a community, thus they also may be Category 618

LO-CU--incense master--Category 794

LO MUA--criminal organization--Category 548

LUN--Category 634

menthol distilling factories--Category 381

PAI PAI--Categories 782, 796

provincial government food bureau--general function of, Category 654; in giving loans, Category 652

push-cart railroad--Category 497

SIM-PUA--little daughter-in-law--Categories 583, 584, 597

SHEQU--a government sponsored local construction scheme--Category 653

TAO SHIH--although these priests are from the city of Lukang (Taiwan), they have been indexed for Category 793

THO TE KUNG (T'U TI KUNG)--"earth god", a circulating plaque in a community --Category 778

TSU (TZU)--a common descent group--Category 618 (sometimes 613 is also applicable)

village--Category 621

village representative--Category 624

Indexing Notes by

Michael A. Marcus

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