Yap Clan 葉

The Yap Clan (葉 or 叶) has been around for centuries. The Yap clan are Hakka.

The various romanisations are: Ye in Mandarin; Yip in Cantonese and Yap in Hakka. In Hakka it is actually pronounced Yup.

Ye means “leaf” in modern Chinese, but the name arose as a clan name referring to the city of Ye in the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. The city gave its name to the present-day Ye County in Henan Province.

When I was young I was told that in the Federated States of Malaya there were two rival Yap Clans. The Guangzhou Yap’s and the Fujian Yaps. We are Fujian Yaps.

There is a suggestion from my grandfathers grave that he was from Boluo in Huizhou prefecture in Guangzhou. This seems to be at odds with the idea of being a Fujian Yap.

Clan Histories

From here it get more complex

I note that Yap Ah Loy, who was also a Fujian Yap, was from Danshui in the Kwai Yap district in Huizhou prefecture. So maybe the Fujian Yaps came from Huizhou. In the Wikipedia entry it says that Yap Ah Loy was from the Fui Chui clan. So maybe Fujian is incorrect and they were Fui Chui Yaps.  This latter story makes much more sense given the other information I have.

it seems that the following is true for Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

惠州(Fui Chiu is Hakka, pronounced Wai Chow in Cantonese and Huizhou in Mandarin) is a Hakka clan from the city of Huizhou in Guangdong province China. Yap Ah Loy was a Hakka from this clan.

The other competing clan in Kuala Lumpur was the Jiaying Zhou (now a district in Meizhou) Hakka. The two Hakka clans fought each other in the Selangor Wars in the 1870’s as they allied to different sultans.

I don’t really understand the relationship between the Fui Chui and Jiaying Zhou clans and the Yap Clan. There is a suggestion in the words that the first two were rival Yap clans. But there is nothing definitive to allow me to conclude that they were both Yap clans.

The story of the Yap Clan in Penang is similar and I wonder if the clans were loosely allied or closely related to their KL counterparts. These appear to also have been rival clans.

Yeap (Yap) Chor Ee, the originator here is also stated to be a Fujian Yap. 

The association building is called Lum Yeong Tong Yap Kongsi comprises Choo Chay Keong Temple and Yap Temple. Choo Chay Keong that houses Yap clansman deities is located right at the corner of the cross road. While the taller Straits building painted in white next to it is Yap Temple which houses Yap families ancestral table

When in the Yap Temple I saw some photos of a new temple they were building in China. But I didn’t get the location.

The Kinta Valley is about halfway between KL and Penang. The various sultans were always vying for more control. But I would guess that the KL clans were more important (assuming that Ipoh didn’t just have its own clans) as Selangor and Perak were both part of the FMS while Penang was a straights settlement.

Generation Names

One thing it took me time to understand is that the generation names are set, not by the immediate family, but by the clan. The actual name format, which is much more that what I was taught, is <Clan Name> <Clan generation name> <individual descriptor>. I put individual descriptor rather than name as the persons name can change as their circumstance changes. This can include changes during their lifetime, but it also includes your name change to your ancestral name on death

The reason this has been a source of confusion for me is that the family of Yap Ah Loy and Yap Swee have, where I know them, have the same generation names. Initially this match led me to investigate if Yap Ah Loy was a grandfather. But the evidence is clearly that this is not the case. He may be a distant cousin or just a fellow clansman.

At the moment the match is two generations. The mathematician in me wants three matches to be certain. So I think it is about a 50% match at the moment that they are from the same clan using the same clan generation names.

Generation Yap Ah Loy family My family Nominal Hakka Cantonese Mandarin
2 亞/   Yap Ah Loy Ah  A Yǎi
3 漢/ Yap Hon Chin Yap Kon Lim (uncle) Hon/Kon hàn Hon3 Hàn
4 /瑞 George Yap Swee Fatt Yap Swee Chung Swee sui4 seoi6 ruì
5/益 Yap Yit Poh Yit Yit Yīk
6 /文 Yap Voon Yee Voon vùn man6 wén



Carstens, S. (1988). From Myth to History: Yap Ah Loy and the Heroic past of Chinese Malaysians. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies,19(2), 185-208. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20071012

A web page I didn’t keep the link for on a temple in KL established by Yap Ah Loy.