#chinese-community · 1 year ago

What Culture Did the Chinese Bring to Jamaica?

What Culture Did the Chinese Bring to Jamaica? photo jamaica

The Chinese have been present in Jamaica for over 150 years, dating back to the mid-19th century. They arrived as indentured laborers to work on the island's sugar plantations and stayed to establish their own businesses and communities. Today, the Chinese-Jamaican community is a significant part of the island's cultural fabric. In this article, we will explore the culture that the Chinese brought to Jamaica and its impact on the island's society.


The Chinese language, Mandarin, is not widely spoken in Jamaica, but the Chinese language has had an impact on Jamaican patois. Many Chinese words have made their way into the Jamaican vernacular, such as "chi chi man," which means a gay man, and "bamboozeled," which means to trick or deceive. Additionally, many Jamaicans of Chinese descent speak Cantonese, a language spoken in Guangdong Province in Southern China.


Perhaps the most significant impact that the Chinese have had on Jamaican culture is in the realm of food. Chinese cuisine has become an integral part of Jamaican cuisine, with Chinese dishes such as fried rice, chow mein, and egg rolls being served at Jamaican restaurants and takeout spots. Jamaican-Chinese cuisine, also known as "Chin-Jamaican," is a fusion of traditional Chinese dishes with Jamaican flavors and ingredients. For example, Chinese steamed fish is often prepared with Jamaican spices and seasoning, and Jamaican jerk chicken is sometimes served with a side of Chinese-style fried rice.


The Chinese community in Jamaica has also contributed to the island's religious landscape. Many Chinese-Jamaicans are Buddhist, and there are several Buddhist temples on the island, such as the Fuhui Temple in St. Andrew and the Foh San Yuan Temple in Kingston. The Chinese also brought with them the practice of feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement, which is used to create harmony and balance in the home or workplace.


The Chinese have played a significant role in Jamaica's business community. Many Chinese immigrants arrived in Jamaica as indentured laborers but eventually established their own businesses. Today, Chinese-owned businesses can be found all over the island, including restaurants, supermarkets, and hardware stores. The Chinese have also been involved in large-scale construction projects on the island, such as the North-South Highway, which connects the capital city of Kingston to the north coast of the island.

Arts and Entertainment

The Chinese have also had an impact on Jamaican arts and entertainment. In the early 20th century, Chinese opera was performed in Jamaica, and some Jamaicans of Chinese descent were trained in the art form. Today, Chinese cultural events, such as Lion Dance performances, are often part of Jamaican cultural festivals, such as the annual Chinese New Year celebrations. Additionally, Chinese-Jamaican musicians, such as musician and producer Leslie Kong, have had an impact on Jamaican popular music.


The influence of Chinese culture can also be seen in Jamaican fashion. The Chinese-style Cheongsam dress, also known as the qipao, has become a popular fashion item in Jamaica. The dress is often worn to formal events, such as weddings and banquets, and has become a symbol of Chinese-Jamaican culture.

In conclusion, the Chinese have had a significant impact on Jamaican culture. From language and food to religion and business, the Chinese-Jamaican community has left its mark on the island's cultural landscape. While there have been challenges along the way, such as discrimination and cultural differences, the Chinese-Jamaican community has persevered and made significant contributions to Jamaican society.

Tips and Advice

If you are interested in learning more about Chinese-Jamaican culture, there are several things you can do. Here are some tips and advice:

  1. Visit Chinese-Jamaican restaurants: Jamaican-Chinese cuisine is a unique and delicious fusion of Chinese and Jamaican flavors. You can find Chinese-Jamaican restaurants all over the island, so make sure to try some of the dishes for a taste of the culture.

  2. Attend Chinese cultural events: The Chinese New Year is celebrated in Jamaica with cultural events such as the Lion Dance performance. You can also attend other cultural events that feature Chinese traditions and performances.

  3. Visit Chinese temples: The Chinese-Jamaican community has several Buddhist temples on the island, where you can learn about Buddhism and the practice of feng shui.

  4. Read books and watch documentaries: There are several books and documentaries that explore Chinese-Jamaican culture, history, and contributions to Jamaican society. Some recommended books are "The Last Chinese Chef" by Nicole Mones and "Out of Many, One People: The Historical Archaeology of Colonial Jamaica" by James A. Delle.

  5. Learn Chinese: Learning the Chinese language can be a great way to connect with the Chinese-Jamaican community and gain a deeper understanding of their culture. You can take Chinese language classes or use language-learning apps such as Duolingo.

The Chinese-Jamaican community has had a significant impact on Jamaican culture, and their contributions continue to be felt today. By learning more about their culture, we can gain a better understanding of the rich cultural diversity that makes Jamaica such a unique and vibrant place.