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Residents of Peng Chau

people1958.jpg From the early time inhabitants of Peng Chau were tied to the sea. Some of these were the Tanka, who lived on their ships or next to the ocean and caught fish for a living. The slang name for these people grew from their regular purchase of large quantities of duck eggs from the people who lived ashore. The whites of the duck eggs were used to strengthen and improve the fishing nets, but this was unknown to the land dwellers who started to refer to them as "eggs", because of their seemingly strange shopping habits. The next group of people are the immigrants from Fuzhou or "crane men". (One explanation for the slang name is that "Fuzhou man" in the Fuzhou dialect sounds the same as "Crane man" in Cantonese. Another explanation is that many of the Fuzhou people moved back and forth between Hong Kong and Fuzhou with the seasons like the cranes migrate with the seasons. The fact that the Fuzhou person would take "only its shell" from Fuzhou to Hong Kong to live led to another slang name of "shell men".) The Fuzhou immigrants can be divided in to two kinds of Peng Chau work:

The first kind is the temporary resident. They live on Peng Chau mainly during certain seasons catching fish and shrimp to sell to the island merchants. During the off-season they would go back to Fuzhou, so their residences on Peng Chau were mostly temporary thatched huts and lived a very simple life.

The second kind of Fuzhou immigrant had a fixed occupation. For example they might excavate coral and dig shellfish from the neighbouring waters, took the meat from the shellfish and sold the coral and shells to the lime ash kilns. Some would also cut grasses and firewood to sell as a livelihood. The majority of these people lived in log cabins or in seashore stilt homes and their lives were quite stable.

The third kind of immigrant settled down on Peng Chau and were mostly Guang Fujen and Hakka from the Pearl River Delta cities like Zhongshan, Panyu, Dongguan, and Guangzhou. Hakka were engaged in argriculture and some fishing. But the Guang Fujen were engaged in the commercial shops and the ash kiln industry and so on. These land dwellers primarily lived in stone buildings or brick rooms, as compared to the temporary residents' poorer log cabins.

The fourth kind of Peng Chau resident came from areas around Shanghai and Zhejiang. They mainly were involved in the industrial development on the island. These immigrants were a major component of the industrial management and technicians here. Although Peng Chau's residents come from near and far to live here, they all live together in peace and harmony and even develop a community spirit that promotes mutual assistance and mutual love for Peng Chau.

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