Photos: China’s Tanka people split between life at sea or on land

The Tankas, an ancient Chinese fishing community living in southern China's coastal waterways, are under threat as the younger generation look to other ways of living.

Updated On Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST
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Along southern China’s snaking rivers, an ancient fishing community that once lived and worked exclusively on the water has been finding its way to land. Wooden fishing boats, wispy nets and bamboo steering poles are typical of the traditions of the ‘Tanka’ -- the term for generations of rural Chinese who have eked out an aquatic existence. (Fred Dufour / AFP)
Updated on Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST

Along southern China’s snaking rivers, an ancient fishing community that once lived and worked exclusively on the water has been finding its way to land. Wooden fishing boats, wispy nets and bamboo steering poles are typical of the traditions of the ‘Tanka’ -- the term for generations of rural Chinese who have eked out an aquatic existence. (Fred Dufour / AFP)

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The boats from the Tanka community moored on a river in Datang, southern China’s Guangdong province. They are named so, for their unique customs and egg-shaped vessels (Tanka, or ‘danjia,’ is homophonous to the Chinese word for egg). (Fred Dufour / AFP)
Updated on Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST

The boats from the Tanka community moored on a river in Datang, southern China’s Guangdong province. They are named so, for their unique customs and egg-shaped vessels (Tanka, or ‘danjia,’ is homophonous to the Chinese word for egg). (Fred Dufour / AFP)

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A man from the Tanka community boils shells on the beach in Datang. They are not listed as a Chinese ethnic minority, but have been classified as an impoverished subgroup of the Han majority. (Fred Dufour / AFP)
Updated on Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST

A man from the Tanka community boils shells on the beach in Datang. They are not listed as a Chinese ethnic minority, but have been classified as an impoverished subgroup of the Han majority. (Fred Dufour / AFP)

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Some people from the Tanka community carry nets filled with fish to sell in the near by markets. The Tanka population in the southern Chinese coast used to be significant until the 1950s. As time passed, the local population shrinked. (Fred Dufour / AFP)
Updated on Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST

Some people from the Tanka community carry nets filled with fish to sell in the near by markets. The Tanka population in the southern Chinese coast used to be significant until the 1950s. As time passed, the local population shrinked. (Fred Dufour / AFP)

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On a morning in Datang, an older woman in rubber boots squatted on a small bank as she pulled in a fishing line. Beside her, a girl stood in a red and white uniform, holding onto a pink Disney princess backpack. Jumping from a boat to the sandy shore, she began her walk to school. (Fred Dufour / AFP)
Updated on Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST

On a morning in Datang, an older woman in rubber boots squatted on a small bank as she pulled in a fishing line. Beside her, a girl stood in a red and white uniform, holding onto a pink Disney princess backpack. Jumping from a boat to the sandy shore, she began her walk to school. (Fred Dufour / AFP)

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Lin Ziqiang, 43, and his wife, surnamed Chen, take their boat out to fish at sunrise every day, coming back to the shore next to a towering bridge at around 1 pm. Every evening, the couple sells their fresh catch at the market by the Beijiang River, making between 3,000 and 4,000 yuan (RS.29,879 and Rs.39,627 approx.) a month. (Fred Dufour / AFP)
Updated on Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST

Lin Ziqiang, 43, and his wife, surnamed Chen, take their boat out to fish at sunrise every day, coming back to the shore next to a towering bridge at around 1 pm. Every evening, the couple sells their fresh catch at the market by the Beijiang River, making between 3,000 and 4,000 yuan (RS.29,879 and Rs.39,627 approx.) a month. (Fred Dufour / AFP)

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It is the only occupation Lin and Chen have ever known. But lives of their children will be different; one of them works in the city, while the other studies at university. (Fred Dufour / AFP)
Updated on Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST

It is the only occupation Lin and Chen have ever known. But lives of their children will be different; one of them works in the city, while the other studies at university. (Fred Dufour / AFP)

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Despite government incentives for relocating into homes on land, some older Tankas are holding fast to their ancestral occupation. (Fred Dufour / AFP)
Updated on Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST

Despite government incentives for relocating into homes on land, some older Tankas are holding fast to their ancestral occupation. (Fred Dufour / AFP)

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The community today is a collision of these two cultures -- the older fishers and the younger Tankas taking to land. (Fred Dufour / AFP)
Updated on Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST

The community today is a collision of these two cultures -- the older fishers and the younger Tankas taking to land. (Fred Dufour / AFP)

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Boats are parked haphazardly along the shore, their decks packed with fishing equipment, blankets and sometimes people sleeping. Men and women in straw hats balance rods holding nets of carp on either end. (Fred Dufour / AFP)
Updated on Sep 22, 2017 12:08 PM IST

Boats are parked haphazardly along the shore, their decks packed with fishing equipment, blankets and sometimes people sleeping. Men and women in straw hats balance rods holding nets of carp on either end. (Fred Dufour / AFP)

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