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ISSN : 1598-1142(Print)
ISSN : 2383-9066(Online)
Journal of architectural history Vol.32 No.3 pp.7-20

A Study on the Water-Faring Community and Architectural Forms of the ‘Tanka People’ in Macau from the Ming and Qing Dynasties to the Modern Period

Hong Shu-Ying, Han Dong-Soo
한양대학교 건축학과 박사과정
한양대학교 건축학과 교수


The compositions of ethnic groups in Macau vary with time. Prior to the opening of the port, the majority of the residents in Macau were Chinese people, including those living on land and at sea. After the port was opened, with the increase of Portugal businessmen and missionaries, the population was divided into Chinese people and foreigners (so-called ‘Yiren’ or 夷人in Chinese). Chinese people living on land were mainly of Hakka, Fujian, and Cantonese descent. Those living at sea were referred to as ‘Tanka People’ (named ‘Danmin’ or 蜑民in Chinese). They lived on floating boats for their entire lives and were similar to the ‘drifters’ in Japan. Since modern times, many refugees from mainland China and Southeast Asia flooded into Macau due to warfare. The development of industrialization required a larger number of laborers, and some ‘coolies’ entered Macau in legal or illegal ways, making it a multi-ethnic city. However, the Tanka people were not considered a minority ethnic group under the national ethnic policy of 56 ethnic groups since they did not have an exclusive language and shared dialects in different regions. As the ports inhabited by Tanka people gradually restored foreign trade, the boats and stilt houses used by Tanka people were dismantled to expand the infrastructure area of the ports. Many Tanka people began to live on land and marry people on land, leading to the disappearance of the Tanka group in Macau. The fishing boats and stilt houses used by Tanka people have also disappeared, with only a few remaining in areas such as Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong. This paper examines the natural and social environment of Tanka people in Macau from the Ming and Qing dynasties to the Republic of China, as well as the adaptive changes they adopted for the aforementioned environment in terms of living space and architectural type, on the basis of summarizing the historical activities of Tanka people. Finally, this study provides a layout plan and interior structure of the most commonly used boat for Tanka people from the Ming and Qing dynasties to the Republic of China, with the use of CAD and other technical software, along with reference to written historical documentation, and provides a case study for further research on the architectural history of Macau's inner harbor cities, from anthropological and folklore perspectives.

명청-근대시기 마카오 “수상인(水上人)”의 취락 및 건축유형 연구