The Hung Suen or Red Boats is a slang term for the Red colored boats that Opera performers used from ruffly the early 1800s down. The red color would attract people to the fact that the Opera was aproaching port.
The Foshan Museum states:
“ In the early stages, the Cantonese opera teams were grouped into local teams and external teams. The local opera teams were consisted of the local opera performers. At that time, the opera teams had no fixed opera platforms. The local opera teams always went out for performances by boats in Pearl River Delta. The earliest opera boats were painted boats (Zidong Boat). Later sailboats were used, which were coated brown black, called “Black Boat”. In (1813), the local teams imitated the red boats of Jiangxi Yuntai governer, which were very prominent with red color on masts and the boat body. Thus the Cantonese referred to the local opera team as “Red Boat”, and the Cantonese opera performers were called Red Boat Performers.”
In the modern times of the 21st century, Hung Suen has become a slang for various branchs of Wing Chun. Usually used to denote older methodology of Wing Chun, for sales purposes. It has been used to denote everything from Hung Fa Yi, Pan Nam, versions of Kulo and still other Wing Chun systems.
- Foshan Museum