We live in a funny world today where lines are drawn for all the wrong reasons. Although it is a universal truth that all men and women should be treated equally, culture is often used as a divisive tool.
It should not be that way. The different routes our ancestors took to get here made us stronger and more united. To be specific, we Malaysian Chinese have a unique a culture of our own as a result of living together with people of various ethnicities for generations.
Celebrating the diversity of Malaysian Chinese communities, John Walker & Sons have collaborated with local designers Loka Made to release the XR 21 Legacy Collection which honours the history of three out of the many communities of Chinese settlers in Malaysia that helped to shape the country into what is it today.
Here’s a closer look at the bottle designs that represent the journeys of the Hakka, Hokkien and Cantonese…
Although the Hakka are believed to have originated from north central China, like the majority of Han Chinese, they chose to live a nomadic life travelling from hill to mountain. The term Hakka means “guest people” or “strangers” and Hakka settlements are like Iban longhouses except they form a circle.
They also hold belief in a mythical creature that resembles a unicorn-dragon-lion hybrid with antlers that performs the Pi Xiu dance on Tian-Chuan Day. Like lion and dragon dances, it is used to ward off bad luck and ushering in good fortune.
The Hakka’s hardworking values transformed Malaysian tin mining into a core industry and subsequently turned Kuala Lumpur into the nation’s capital.
With a green theme, the Hakka design is a homage to the lush hillsides and mountains where traditional Hakka homes still stand til this day. The bottle also incorporates imagery of the Pi Xiu dance and one of their most popular dishes – lei cha.
Chinese New Year for the Hokkien is celebrated on the ninth day of the first month of Lunar calendar although preparations and prayers start a day before. This day is especially important to Hokkiens because they believe it is the birthday of the Jade Emperor and deity Tian Gong who protected their ancestors from the army in ancient China.
Early Hokkiens escaped persecution during the Ming Dynasty by seeking refuge in a sugarcane plantation, and have been worshipping Tian Gong through prayers and offerings ever since.
A regal red to symbolise the Hokkien’s spirit of survival is used for this edition together with images of Hokkien Opera, the Jade Emperor and sugarcane, and one of the most iconic clan houses in Malaysia – the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi in Penang.
No doubt one of the key players in coining the term Yam Seng, the Cantonese have also had a huge impacted on pop culture. But their history dates back to their sea-faring businessmen days.
Dressed in royal blue, the bottle’s design features the abacus and traditional steelyards, harkening the days where Cantonese tradesmen ventured to lands as far as the Caribbean and Americas.
The ubiquitous Guang Dong Lion Dance that is performed every Chinese New Year and at various work functions and personal events is also worked into the aesthetics, as with illustrations of dim sum and tea – showcasing the origins of yum cha culture.
And who can forget the Carp? The saying goes, “a leap to a dragon gate, worth a hundredfold”. It tells the story of a carp that would turn into a dragon if it manages to pass through a waterfall called the Dragon Gate and is mostly likely one of the earliest renditions of ‘the higher the risk, the higher the profit’ we’ve heard.