Hong Kong Then by Brian Wilson

Appendix A: Some Chinese Customs In The New Territories: Succession
  • By Chinese custom there is no such thing as testamentary disposition of property. All a man's will can do is permit his widow(s) to remarry, and to moralise for the sons' edification. It is doubtful whether by English law a NT domiciled person can make a valid will disposing of NT property otherwise than as custom would have directed anyhow. See the Report of the Chinese Law and Custom Committee.

  • The custom is that land is inherited by all the sons of the deceased, whether by a kit fat or tin fong wife or by a concubine. They all inherit as tenants in common. In some cases, the father of the eldest grandson receives a double or larger share. Since daughters marry and join their husband's family, they do not qualify for inheritance. In some cases the widow or concubine will also inherit, but this is by arrangement among the parties and it is usual for the widow or concubine to have control over the land only in the capacity of manager of a Tso. This ensures that the land cannot be disposed of without the consent ofthe members of the Tso.

  • When the sons have married and started families, they may divide the property amongst themselves. Often one share is retained in the name of a Tso, so as to provide income for ancestral worship.

  • Where there are no sons, the property is inherited by the nearest male relative ofthe deceased. This is often a nephew, brother, uncle or cousin, and excludes all daughters. A son is usually adopted for the purpose of inheritance.

  • Where there are no children and no close relatives, a widow on occasion may occupy her late husband's property, provided there are no family or clan objections, but more often the family will regard the adoption of a son as essential for purposes of inheritance.

  • Cases have been known where a rich landowner during his lifetime has assigned property into the name of a thrifty concubine. Although under the English law of real property, the concubine would thereby be free to dispose of her property as she pleased, the custom is that she may not alienate the land but may enjoy its benefit only during her lifetime, after which the property reverts to the Tso or main family.
  • Adoption
    Leaving aside maternal instincts, which often lead a childless married woman to adopt a boy or girl, the primary purpose of adoption under Chinese custom is to provide a male for the inheritance of land, and for worshipping the ancestors. It is a business transaction rather than an emotional satisfaction.

  • Generally, a nephew or clansman of a younger generation is adopted. In many cases, however, the generation of the adopted child is not important. He may even be of the same age as the adoptive parents.

  • Adoption need not take place during the lifetime of the adoptive parents. One or other of the adoptive parents may have died, and I have met a case where both parents had been dead a year before adoption took place.

  • Adoption is a formal process that not only requires action on the part of the adoptive parents but also requires the approval of the elders of the family and the clan, who normally signify it by attending a feast to eat ceremonial pork. This explains an adoption after the death of the adoptive parents.

  • The adopted person renounces all rights of succession and inheritance in his natural family. Instead, he acquires these rights in the family by which he has been adopted.

  • Occasionally, an adopted son attempts to renounce his adoption. I have met one case of this where all parties agreed and which was accordingly approved. Whether the renunciation revests in the son the succession rights in his natural family which he lost by adoption is a difficult question and I think must depend on the particular circumstances of each case.
  • Ching Sheung or Sheung Tin land
  • This is land bequeathed by the original owner or set aside by his inheritors for the specific purpose of ancestral worship. It is usually held in the name of a clan that bears the original owner's name. Rent and proceeds from the land are devoted primarily to the worship of ancestors, and secondarily to the education of members of the clan, relief of poor members, marriage and funeral expenses of members etc.

  • The land cannot be alienated without the consent of the representatives and elders of the whole clan.

  • The land is normally cultivated by distribution amongst members of the clan or by lease to a member.

  • Land held by clans
  • Portions of property owned by a clan are sometimes leased to a family within the clan. These families have often cultivated the same fields for generations, paying an annual rent to the clan accountant. Sub-letting is frowned upon and generally forms grounds for cancelling the lease. Alternatively, the various families of a Tso may cultivate the land for a year at a time in rotation and at a fixed annual rent.

  • Another method of leasing Tso property within the clan is to hold an auction where the highest bidder for the annual lease is granted the tenancy for the following year. Money derived from the bid is devoted to ancestral worship etc. as stated in paragraph 3(a) above.

  • Proper granting of leases by the trustee of the clan is not a regular feature and generally forms a large Proportion of land disputes by reason of its omission.
  • Family disputes
    The first and most important step is to discover the status of the parties, i.e. are they properly married by Chinese custom or are they cohabiting under some lesser bond?

  • Kitfat marriage. This is the traditional form of marriage and assumes that the parties were single and unmarried beforehand. Essential features are exchanges of horoscopes etc. beforehand by the respective families, negotiations by a go-between, signing of the red paper of betrothal, bridal chair (or taxi) from the bride's home to her groom's, and a feast at the groom's house to announce the fact of marriage. It is not usual to omit any of these details, of which the red paper is perhaps the most important. However, there are occasional cases where the red paper is replaced by a certificate signed by both parties and by witnesses to the ceremony.

  • Tin Fang marriage. Where one of the parties to a kit fat marriage dies or is formally divorced, the surviving spouse may subsequently contract another formal marriage which is quite distinct from concubinage. It carries all the force of a kit fat marriage.

  • Concubine. A concubine has a recognised legal status under Chinese custom and should not be regarded as an immoral plaything. Although a rich man, apart from his kit fat wife, may take more than one concubine in a fashion that leaves little doubt as to his uxorious mettle, one of the commoner purposes of taking a concubine is to provide the sons that the kit fat wife has perhaps failed to produce. The introduction of a concubine into a household is nonnally a fonnal process involving due recognition by the family and friends. It is an open matter, like marriage, and implies nothing indiscreet. As far as possible, husbands try to provide separate households for a wife and a concubine, who on the whole tend to fight occasionally. Attempts to claim status as a second wife, a level wife (p 'eng tsai) or any other variation, should be resisted. Some experts state that by custom a Chinese is monogamous. As a rule he has only one customarily recognised wife or principal spouse; any other women with whom he co-habits being either a concubine (in the Chinese customary sense) or a kept woman.

  • Kept women, i.e. women who regularly live with a man without being kit fat or tin fang wives or a concubine, are most frequently met amongst refugees from CT. They differ clearly from concubines in that there is no recognised ceremony for their entry into the household. More often their presence is concealed from the wife, at any rate until the birth of a child. Away from their homes and any social conscience born of fear of ridicule by friends or relatives, refugees tend to fonn relations with each other on a very temporary basis. They drift together and drift apart without much difficulty. Having discovered the status of the parties, the dispute can be investigated. As far as possible, it is best to avoid laying blame too heavily on any party since the ultimate object is to persuade them to drop their differences and return home ready to give married life another chance. Too much airing of grievances and bitterness destroys any atmosphere for reconciliation. I often suggest a trial period varying from a week to a month. If, however, things are hopeless, then the only solution is a divorce or separation. A divorce affects only kit fat and tin fang marriages. Where a woman is a concubine or kept, the parties are free to separate when they please. The divorce or separation of the parties is only the first step. The real trouble comes in dividing up the children and the property. Customarily, sons are returned to the husband, provided he is fit to look after them and maintain them. Daughters remain with the mother. Powers to assist are contained in the Infants Custody Ordinance (Cap. 13) which is not worried about marriage of the parents. Division of property often founders on the question of return by the woman of the clothes and gold ornaments given her as wedding presents by her husband. There is no hard and fast rule in the matter but, in general, where I have thought the woman at fault, I have tried to persuade her to return the presents.

    Occasionally a dispute concerns maintenance of the wife by her husband. Provided the parties are properly married, powers are contained in the Separation and Maintenance Orders Ordinance (Cap. 16).

    Amongst NT villagers, virginity in brides is highly prized and loss of it before marriage may fonn grounds for return of a wife to her parents after consummation. In some parts of the interior, it is the custom that only virgins may ride to their future husband's home in a bridal chair. Non-virgins, e.g. widows, are required to advertise the fact by a pedestrian progress under a black umbrella to which is tied a piece of red ribbon.

  • Marriage by proxy
  • Although it is rarely met, there is a form of customary marriage by proxy, which has all the force of, and to all intents and purposes is, a kit fat marriage. The bride comes to the groom's house and all the ordinary procedure of a wedding is observed, except that the groom is represented by a cockerel. Without being sure, I assume that this custom arose from a regular absence of overseas Chinese from their homes. Certainly, it is the bride who is always present; there is no customary marriage by proxy where the bridegroom is present and the bride absent.

  • The actual details of the marriage ceremony may be obtained from the SCA where Mr D. R. Holmes compiled an interesting record from a recent case.
  • Sam P'o Tsai
  • Asam p'o tsai is a young girl who has been reared by a family not her own with the specific object of marrying her to one of the sons of that family. The practice is normally confined to poorer households which fear that, when their children reach marriageable age, the family may not be in a financial position to exchange the necessary gifts for betrothal. Failure to observe tradition in this respect would involve loss of face. A young girl will therefore be handed over to the family of the boy whom she is due to marry. Sometimes the bargain is free, sometimes a token payment is made, sometimes quite a large sum of money changes hands. The money is usually wrapped in red paper to ensure a lucky transaction. There is no fixed age for the entry of the girl into her new home. It may be when she is only a few years old or it may be when she is up to fifteen years old. She becomes, until marriage, just another worker in the household.

  • The sam p'o tsai is traditionally carried into her new home on the back of a woman, under an open umbrella to which is tied a piece of red cloth. Sometimes, however, an older girl will be transported in a bridal chair. Crackers are fired and there is a sacrifice of chicken and pork to the ancestors, as well as a burning of joss sticks to inform the ancestors of the arrival of the girl into her new family.

  • At the son's coming of age (between sixteen and eighteen), the couple are ready to be married, provided the girl is sufficiently developed. If not, the ceremony is deferred. The ceremony usually takes place at midnight or in the early hours of the morning in the temple or in the house, with the object of informing the ancestors. Being ancestor worship, which can be performed only by males, the girl remains at home out of the way and no members of her family may be present. A large sieve, usually of bamboo, is placed on the ground. In the centre of it, the bridegroom stands on a rice measure with red cloths draped over his left and right shoulders. He wears a felt hat with silver flowers around it or a feather. In olden times, a Chinese tall hat was worn but, when this fell out of fashion, the felt hat was adopted as the most respectable of modem headgear. The feather represented the old Imperial custom of presenting a feather to the best scholars.

  • Shortly after this ceremony, and on the same day, comes the actual wedding, which is known as the crowning, when relatives and friends of both families are invited. Relations are given cups of tea by the bridal couple. The important feature is that the marriage dates from this ceremony, not from the time of entry ofthe sam p 'a tsai into her new family, although a girl will sometimes say that she was married, for instance, at the age of six.

  • There is no traditional requirement for the sam p' a tsai to marry the son. I have met several cases where the girl declined marriage and the parties agreed to separate. Brought up in a brother and sister atmosphere, the boy and girl may lack the right approach to marriage.
  • Customary agricultural leases
  • In the absence of a written agreement to the contrary, leases of agricultural land are normally on an annual basis. Payment of rent may be in cash or in 'kuk' either in one lump sum or after each of the two rice harvests. Most leases are verbal.

  • It is common practice for members of the lessee's family to take over his lease in the event of his death. Acceptance of rent by the lessor in these cases implies recognition of the new lessee.

  • Sub-letting is a practice more common amongst immigrant vegetable farmers than paddy farmers. It is rare to find an original lease that prohibits sub-letting and in general landowners do not seem to object to it as long as their rents come in. In some cases, they even collect rent direct from the sub-lessee.

  • It is customary for a landlord to reduce the fixed rent in respect of a harvest which has been particularly poor, but discretion is entirely in the hands of the landlord and request must be made by the tenant himself before the crop is actually harvested, so that the landlord may have a chance of examining the crop to check the truth of the claim.

  • The termination of an annual lease of paddy land is affected customarily by the landowner giving notice, either verbal or written, to the tenant between the time of collecting rent after the second harvest (October / November) and the Winter Solstice (December). The land should then be handed back by the tenant to the landlord at the end of the first moon of the following year, in the case of paddy land.

  • Leases of vegetable land are customarily for a period of twelve months from the beginning of the first moon to the end of the twelfth moon. No set period of notice is required for recovery of the land, but in general the landlord should give sufficient notice to ensure that the tenant does not plant further crops which would carry him beyond the end of the year. Two to three months' notice is probably adequate. Less notice would not be wrong but it might be unreasonable unless the landlord either gave compensation for standing crops or allowed an extension of the lease until the crop was harvested.

  • Payment of rent for vegetable land is usually in cash in lieu of paddy. Traditionally, paddy land was regarded as more valuable than vegetable land. Since 1950, a reversal in values has taken place and the lack of clear-cut custom regarding vegetable land often gives rise to difficulties.

  • In the past, recovery of land by a landlord was an unusual occurrence and tenancies often continued for several generations. With the general increase of agricultural activity since 1949 (after the influx of industrious refugees), tenancies are more frequently called in. Sometimes a mere pretext covers the real reason that a hardworking tenant has spent much capital in improving poor land which the landlord now wishes to lease again at a higher rent. It is always wise before intervening in tenancy cases to be sure that a good reason exists for recovery of the land. These reasons might be that the tenant is a poor one who makes little use of the land; the tenant has failed to pay rent or has otherwise committed a breach of conditions, e.g. illegal temporary structures; the landowner is short of land and has a large family. Where it is necessary on the facts to find in favour of the landlord, it is often easier to persuade the tenant to comply by offering to find him alternative Crown Land.

  • It is a recurring feature in many cases that tenants tend to sink capital into land, particularly with chicken farms, without having any real lease to protect them. Rapacious landlords take advantage of this and often deliberately refuse to issue written leases. I have had no success whatsoever in trying to educate tenants in this respect.
  • Graves
  • Bodies are normally buried in an earth grave (huet chong) for five years or so. At the end of that time, they are usually exhumed and the bones arranged in an earthenware funerary pot (kam tap). Richer families and clans will sometimes install the exhumed bones in a masonry grave (shan fan) instead of a funerary pot.

  • Huet chong and kam taps are always sited in groups on hillsides or ground where the fung shui is good. It is not usual to build or cultivate near these areas.

  • The choice of site of a shan fan is again dictated by fung shui. Considerable sums of money may be spent in fees for the fung shui sin shang and in construction, although workmanship is rarely first class. The site is usually high up, commanding a view of water in some form or other, and on a ridge or spur which represents, for instance, a dragon, snake, shrimp or crab in its formation. The principle is that the animal represented is a beneficial one which will guard the deceased who, in his turn, will watch over the interests of his descendants on this earth if sufficiently propitiated in the next world by his earthly descendants. This conception is important because it explains the strenuous objections usually met where the fung shui of a burial place is disturbed. The commonest objections are against the cutting or digging of the ridge or spur at any point directly above the grave itself, since this will destroy the creature whose influence is protecting the deceased.

  • Important graves are frequently ones of recorded ancestors or founders of a clan. These graves are normally flanked by two small shrines (hau to), one on either side at a distance of roughly twenty feet, and sometimes one above as well. Their object is to persuade the earth god to look after the grave.

  • A shan fan sometimes falls into disuse and neglect by reason of the disappearance of all descendants or through other reasons. A sure sign of this is the removal of the pei shek or stone plaque on which details of the deceased are recorded. At the two grave-worshipping festivals of Ching Ming and Chung Yeung. It is normal to tidy up huet chong kam tap, and shan fan and to decorate them with patches of white lime and lucky money as well as joss sticks.

  • Standing with one's back to the pei shek of a shan fan and facing the same way as the grave, a half circle in front with a radius of ten yards is normally sacrosanct. Disturbance of the ground is regarded with strong disfavour. Traditionally, the left arm of this half moon is protected by a green dragon and the right arm by a white tiger.

  • The degree of fung shui involved is relative and, in some cases where there apparently exists no strong feeling on the subject, a road or cutting may be allowed right up against a grave. At other times, very strong objections indeed may be raised. Generally, the strongest feelings lie with clans that have sufficient land and money to carry on traditional ancestor worship and to keep the proper spirit alive.

  • Ancestral graves are not necessarily in the same vicinity as the village where the descendants live. Sometimes they are far apart. For instance, the large Man clan of San Tin has graves at Tsuen Wan and Castle Peak, which are visited at the two festivals by a lengthy motorcade of lorries containing worshippers, a band, and enormous quantities of food and drink. This separation of distance represents only the dictates of good Jung shui and does not mean that the clan has shifted its village at some past stage in history.
  • House-building
  • t often occurs that an owner of building land or of agricultural land to be converted to building status applies for leave to start building at once without waiting for the completion of normalities, e.g. scrutiny of plans, signature of papers, etc. His grounds for wishing to cut procedure short are that a lucky day for building is approaching and that he cannot afford to miss the opportunity. Attempts of this sort, however importunate, can usually be resisted by instructing the applicant to continue with house building ceremonies without actually doing any building itself.

  • The ceremonies themselves are of three separate types and need not necessarily take place in any particular order or on the same day. There may be a different lucky day for each. They are equally practised amongst Cantonese and Hakka. Their expenses, particularly of entertainment, are such that they form a large part of building costs and to some extent must be reckoned as a deterrent to permanent buildings, at any rate amongst poorer villagers.

  • The lucky day is chosen by the geomancer, comparing the applicant's time and date of birth against the Chinese almanac, which records which days are luckiest for performing certain things. As this method of selection is employed in various other domestic circumstances, e.g. marriage, opening a business etc., a record of a child's name and date of birth is of particular importance for its future prosperity.

  • On mun consists of setting up the front door on the building site itself. Three lengths of bamboo, to which is attached a piece of red paper with the characters, are erected in the shape of a doorway, i.e. two uprights and one crosspiece. No feast or celebration is required.

  • Sheung leung is the more important ceremony and involves the erection of the main ridge-pole of the roof. Several days before the actual ceremony, two unpainted wooden uprights are set up on the building site. On the lucky day chosen, a red painted beam, which is traditionally of China fir, is placed between two tables or stools. The applicant and his family will worship the centre ofthe beam, praying for prosperity within the new house. The youths of the village, most of whom will already be assembled, are then invited to hoist the beam up to the two uprights and to lash it on. Meanwhile, drums and gongs will be beaten. When the beam is erected, red string will be used to attach the following to it: a piece of red cloth; some small taros (a big taro has many small ones around it, symbolising a mother with many children); two small bags of red cloth, one containing kuk and the other mai (representing riches in much rice); a red bamboo sieve (the numerous holes represent mouths of a large family); two bundles of red chopsticks (the Cantonesefaai chi for chopsticks is punned into faai chi, meaning quick sons); several onions (Cantonese chung is punned into chung meng, meaning clever); several garlic bulbs (Cantonese suen tau is punned into, meaning ingenious); one pair of black trousers (Cantonese is punned intofoo kwai, meaning rich); two paper lanterns (Cantonese tang m is punned into tim ting, meaning getting a son). A feast is then held, to which the applicant invites clansmen, friends and relatives, and specially baked cakes are distributed to children. In due course, the remainder of the house is built around the beam. The various articles attached to it are left hanging, except that for some reason the pair of black trousers is usually detached.

  • Tin Kei represents digging the foundations. A small channel is first dug to one side of the building site and a number of stones or bricks are placed on top of each other inside the channel.

  • When the house is completed, a form of house-warming is held. Two red-painted rice measures are filled, one with kuk and the other with mai, and candles and joss-sticks placed standing in the rice. Worshipping takes place at the shrines of the earth god t'o tei and kitchen god within the house. If the applicant can still afford it, he holds a feast for friends and relatives, who often bring presents of mirrors and furniture.
  • Some Fung Shui problems
  • Certain localities, particularly hills, are sometimes regarded as throwing out good or bad influences, according to the animal that the locality represents. In the same manner , strong objections are frequently raised to the opening of windows in a house that faces some other house or temple. The window represents the open mouth of a tiger, ready to swallow up the occupants of the building facing it. A lamp flashing in the direction of a house is equally obnoxious.

  • Antidotes to these evil rays or influences are often difficult to apply. One method is for the aggrieved householder to put up a paat kwa or eight-sided diagram on the outside of their house. Alternatively, a mirror sometimes will suffice to reflect the evil rays. A third method is to erect some effective barrier in between, such as trees or bamboos, with a temporary wall until the trees have attained sufficient height and bushiness to form an effective screen

  • These objections are for the most part confined to Cantonese rather than Hakka. However, because of their greater belief in animism, Hakka are the more concerned with fung shui, trees and rocks, damage to which they will strenuously oppose.
  • Oaths
  • Before the lease of the NT to the Crown in 1898 and the coming of British law, the question of which party to a dispute was telling the truth was customarily settled by a form oftrial by ordeal in a temple. Both parties would attend at a mutually agreed temple, never a clan temple or Tsz t 'ong with witnesses and all interested villagers. Each party would then pray to the temple god to affirm the truth of his statements in the dispute and inviting the god to do the supplicant an injury if he were not in fact telling the truth. Each party in turn would then attempt to strike off the head of a live cock (colour unimportant) with a single stroke of a chopper. If the head were severed cleanly, the party thereby proved his case. An incomplete severance would show the hollowness of the party's statements, probably because guilty knowledge caused his hand to shake.

  • In practice, it was seldom that both parties were required to chop off the cock's head. Usually the guilty party would feel himself unable to invite the god's wrath in the preliminary worshipping and would back out. This implied a perhaps greater belief in the omnipotence of the gods than is apparent nowadays when the modem age and Christianity have taken some of the edge off ancient traditions.

  • The custom is now quite rare, although a case occurred in Tai Po in 1948, under the auspices of the then District Officer. Present statutory penalties for breach of oath in judicial proceedings and statutory declarations have almost wholly replaced this custom.
  • Money loan associations
  • Debt disputes frequently arise as a result of money loan associations. Without a clear idea of their workings, it is impossible to understand the inevitable ramifications of each case.

  • Such associations are normally formed by groups of persons in close daily contact with each other so as to create mutual trust and confidence. Examples are employees or fokis of a shop or even government servants in the same office. The object of the association is to pool the financial resources of the members, with the gambling prospect of each member at some stage being able to use these resources for his own benefit. Each member will eventually get back roughly the same amount of money as he put into the association.

  • There are of course variations, but generally the procedure is for a number of persons to club together for a set period which corresponds to the number of persons (e.g. ten persons for ten months). The period can begin at any time and regular meetings are held throughout. In the commonest form of the association, each member will at the first meeting pay to the chairman, who is usually the instigator of the scheme, an agreed sum of money, for example $50.

    At the second meeting, all members will in secret tender to the chairman on slips of paper the amount of interest which they are prepared to offer on each member's share. The member who tenders the highest interest, say $5 on $50 shares, is awarded all the members' shares for that meeting. The members are then required to pay over their share ($50) less the highest amount of interest tendered, i.e. $50 less $5 = $45. The winner therefore collects $45 from each member for that meeting. When a member has secured the highest tender, he is thereafter regarded as a dead member and at all further meetings has to pay the full share to the successful tenderer whilst himself being debarred from tendering again. In this manner, each member in turn will eventually at some stage become a successful tenderer. At the last meeting, the one remaining member will collect his full amount back again and he will have profited by the interest accruing on the sums loaned to each successful tenderer during the set period.

  • In the above form of the association, the chairman collects the fixed sum in full from each member at the first meeting, repaying the same amount at each subsequent meeting to the successful tenderer. He gets in effect an interest-free loan. In a different form, the chairman may be in the nature of a professional, charging the successful tenderer each month a commission usually fixed at 50% ofthe fixed sum. This type of chairman is really acting as a sort of paid manager.

  • In any form of association, the chairman gives each member at or before the first meeting a booklet containing the names of members and simple rules, including a liability on the chairman in the event of a member dying or backing out.

  • The aim as far as possible is that each member should at some stage during the set period have the use of the combined shares of all the members. In effect, he is borrowing money at a low rate of interest without knowing exactly when the loan will come. It is the appeal of this gambling element which makes these associations so popular amongst wageearning Chinese.

  • The drawbacks are numerous. It is preferable that each member should appear at each meeting if he is not to be deprived of his chances. No member can back out of the association until the full period has elapsed, since otherwise the sum won by the successful tender will be depleted. Most disputes arise by reason of a successful tenderer attempting to back out at an early stage, having obtained a sum of money by means which are hard to define as either larceny, false pretences or embezzlement.
  • Names
  • Throughout his life, a Chinese will often use a bewildering series of names or aliases, each of which usually denotes some stage in life. The practice between men and women is slightly different.

  • When a child is born, he or she is given a milk name, chosen well before the full moon feast which normally takes place when the child is a month old. This milk name is used by the child's family and relatives.

  • At the full moon feast, the parents choose a proper name for the child and then worship the gods (Goddess of Mercy - Kwun Yam; Queen of Heaven - Tin Hau; Kwan Tai, etc.) who are informed of the name and asked to give their blessing to its holder.

  • When the child first goes to school, he or she is traditionally required to kneel before the teacher who invokes the aid of Confucius to assist the child in studying and who gives the child a school name. This school name is used by pupils and teachers in school but at home does not normally displace the milk name which the family will continue to use.

  • On marriage, a man will give up his milk name and will be given an adult name by his fellow clansmen. Usually the second name will be that of the second name of the clan , e.g. TANG Ping Cheung after the TANG Ping Hak Tso.

  • Finally, in entering business or commerce, a man will frequently assume yet another name, 'pit tsz' (Jj~ ~), for purposes of business only.

  • Apart from the milk name, proper name and school name, a girl will at marriage assume her husband's clan name in front of her own, e.g. HO Fung Ling, on marrying TANG Man Lin, becomes TANG HO Fung Ling

  • The reluctance of married women to reveal their full maiden name often leads them to leave off their final name and instead to add the suffix 'shi'.
  • map of Hong Kong
    Maps of Hong Kong
    Main Article
    Hong Kong Then
    Appendices
    Appendix A: Some Chinese Customs In The New Territories
    Appendix B: Chinese burial customs in Hong Kong
    Appendix C: The New Territories of Hong Kong


    Articles




    Share


    Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames |


    by Stephen Luscombe