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   Hong Kong Fishermen's Ballads - A History in Songs -

Lee, Yan Kiu
Department of Journalism

15 Min
370 View


Po Toi O fisherman Lau Yee Ching recalls his daily work life in the past. Scholar Lai Chi Pong points out that fishermen and seafarers who laboured by the Pearl River Delta region and near the Guangxi province were called the “dan” family. Before the sixties, the boats were their homes. Before Hong Kong opened its port, numerous fishermen inhabited the village in Po Toi O. These fishermen could be described as the indigenous people of Hong Kong, but because they did not own any land, the fishermen were disregarded. They did not have any documentation related to genealogy records or historical evidence. Lau Yee Ching talks about the decline in catches; Lai Chi Pong analyzes the reasons for the decline in fisheries. Tai O female fisherman Leung Tai Tai likes singing "Daffodil", a sea shanty, as she resonates with the song’s lyrics. Lai Chi Pong also pointed out that sea shanties were popular among the “dan” family that document the daily lives of the fishermen. At both weddings or funerals, the fishermen would sing these songs. The characteristics of the sea shanties were: variation according to trends, and a gentle melody. The function of the songs was to: emote, observe, socialize, and grieve. After the 1970s, the sea shanties gradually began to disappear... Chan Kai Pong is a descendant of the “dan” family. After learning about the content and meaning of the sea shanties, he became interested. He believes that the best way to preserve the songs is to incorporate new elements into them...


Lee, Yan Kiu. (2019). Hong Kong Fishermen's Ballads - A History in Songs -. Retrieved from HKBU Heritage:

Lee, Yan Kiu. "Hong Kong Fishermen's Ballads - A History in Songs -". HKBU Heritage. HKBU Library, 2019. Web. 08 Aug. 2020.

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