July 13, 2009

mtDNA of Hakka and Chaoshanese

Am J Phys Anthropol doi:10.1002/ajpa.21124

Tracing the origins of Hakka and Chaoshanese by mitochondrial DNA analysis

Wen-Zhi Wang et al.

Abstract

Hakka and Chaoshanese are two unique Han populations residing in southern China but with northern Han (NH) cultural traditions and linguistic influences. Although most of historical records indicate that both populations migrated from northern China in the last two thousand years, no consensus on their origins has been reached so far. To shed more light on the origins of Hakka and Chaoshanese, mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) of 170 Hakka from Meizhou and 102 Chaoshanese from Chaoshan area, Guangdong Province, were analyzed. Our results show that some southern Chinese predominant haplogroups, e.g. B, F, and M7, have relatively high frequencies in both populations. Although median network analyses show that Hakka/Chaoshanese share some haplotypes with NH, interpopulation comparison reveals that both populations show closer affinity with southern Han (SH) populations than with NH. In consideration of previous results from nuclear gene (including Y chromosome) research, it is likely that matrilineal landscapes of both Hakka and Chaoshanese have largely been shaped by the local people during their migration southward and/or later colonization in southern China, and factors such as cultural assimilation, patrilocality, and even sex-bias in the immigrants might have played important roles during the process.

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1 comment:

Bram said...

Very interesting study! I had long suspected something like this, having studied early Chinese history. 2,000 to 3,000 years ago the southern Chinese ethnic groups were not considered Han Chinese. Although they were related to the northern Han Chinese, they were ethnically different. The Han often looked down on them. Slowly but surely, they were assimilated by the dominant Han Chinese, and there is little trace of their more ancient non-Han heritage. There is no disputing that the southern Chinese are now true Han Chinese.

The process is similar to how the Russians russified the Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian empire over the past 1,000 or so years. In most cases they have been so thoroughly assimilated that few are aware of their former Finnic heritage.