The Hakkas, who were forced to leave home and wandered about, adopt various ways to express their desire of living and working in peace and contentment. When a couple is married, people will find a bunch of grass tied with a red string in a basket and hung at the head of the bed in the bridal chamber. The grass, called "longevity grass," is brought by the bride and must be planted in the vegetable garden of her husband's family on the wedding day, symbolizing that she will take root there and will not move in her later life.
A group of enclosed Hakka houses. The wall is propped by a frame of bamboo and wood chips.Cooked glutinous rice and brown sugar are added to immature soil, fine sand and limestone, which are kneaded, pounded, pressed, and finally rammed into place to make the wall.
The houses of the Hakkas show that they abide by their old tradition and refuse to be assimilated. A house usually holds several dozen to a hundred families. One can imagine that the architect must take pains to design such a huge project which embraces so many people.
In square, rectangular, semicircular and round shapes, the surrounding houses or buildings often have two or three storeys with windows facing outside and the door facing inside. Some houses have two to three circles of surrounding structures. The rooms upstairs and downstairs serve as bedrooms, kitchens, storage places and livestock sheds. Between the buildings are courtyards where residents dry things on sunny days, drain water on rainy days, or hold outdoor activities. In case of fire, the lanes around the walls and the courtyards help to prevent the fire from spreading.
The layout of each building is different. With some, the front door, portico, courtyard, middle hall and main hall are the central axis with chambers, living rooms and courtyards arranged symmetrically on both sides. Some use the middle hall as an ancestral hall, which is flanked by chambers and backs on to two or three semi-circular surrounding buildings.
There is a pond in front of each house for collecting water drained from the courtyard. People raise fish and wash clothes and vegetables in the pond and water the vegetable garden with the water from the pond. If there is a fire, the water from the pond is used to put it out.
The ancestral hall is the heart of a house. On festivals, families make sacrificial offerings to their ancestors. Anyone from the family who comes home from far away or is going to marry must go to the ancestral hall to pay respects to their forefathers. So do girls who are going to marry in another place or members of the family who are leaving home. It also serves as a mourning hall if one of the family elders dies. With their own unique structures, the surrounding buildings of the Hakkas are suitable for family life, although as a mourning hall if one of the family elders dies. With their own unique structures, the surrounding buildings of the Hakkas are suitable for family life, although as in nay living arrangement, disputes and conflicts among several dozen families living in a huge house are unavoidable. Therefore, a respected member of the community is slected as the leader of the group. Collective decisions are made on weddings or funerals, schools, water conservancy projects, repairs on bridges and roads and other decisions affecting the group. However, if anyone violates the clan's rules or discipline, or if the village comes into conflict with another village, the clan head will take measures to handle it.
To keep peace in the village, local people abide by unwritten rules which are understood. People living in the earth buildings may pile and store things in front of their rooms, but are not allowed to occupy the territory belonging to other people. In their rooms, but are not allowed to occupy the territory belonging to other people. In the season for transplanting rice sprouts, people should use the water equally, so that every family can transplant rice sprouts on time. If anyone keeps water for his own use, the clan head has the right to open breaches along the ditch. If one injures a person in the fight for water, he must pay all medical expenses for the injured and go to his home to apologize. When the rice is ripe, it is prohibited to release chickens and ducks to the fields. If anyone who acts against the rules, his chickens or ducks can be eaten by anyone who catches them. In the mountains forests are important sources of income. Those who secretly cut timbers shall pay for the wood according to arranged prices. Those who start forest fires out of carelessness shall hold banquets to treat the villagers who help put out the fire, and made a compensatory payment according to an arranged price.
When sons grow up, the family holding will be shared among them. First of all, the father and sons discuss how to divide houses and property. When a man sets up his own household, his father-in-law will come with rice, wood and buckets in the morning amidst firecrackers. The buckets hold pots, bowls, ladles, cakes, onions, garlic and celery. They bring these in order to help their daughters and sons-in-law establish their own homes and also to express their wish that they will work hard and earn their income themselves (celery, onion, garlic and wood being homonymous with the words for diligence, clever, calculation and wealth in Chinese).
But when small families are set up, a part of fields, mountains, forests and fish ponds will be left as public property of the whole family. The public fields will be ploughed and taken care of by sons and grandsons in turn. Income from public fields will be used to offer sacrifices to ancestors, help the poorer members of the clan, for education or to establish public facilities.