Monday, January 21, 2013

My Father’s Family Roots – Han (韓/韩)

Although the Han () country is today's Korea (韓國), it was gone in China, but its people and city remained. It became Han City (韩城), remaining so today, in Henan (河南) province. The cradles of Chinese civilization were Henan, Shanxi, and Shaanxi (陕西) provinces. Henan has over 5,000 years of history. Oracle bones 甲骨文 (1600-1046 B.C.) contained the earliest known Chinese writing adopted by other East Asian languages. They recorded historical information, including the complete royal genealogy.
咥遍关中 韩城
     DNA evidence suggests 300 million Chinese men (40%) are descended from just three stone age grandfathers some 5000 years ago. That’s a total of 300 million Chinese men all living today who share three common grandfathers. One possibility is that they could be the Emperor Yan (炎帝)and Emperor Huang (黃帝), two legendary Chinese leaders who date from around this time.
Han City (韩城) in Ming and Qing Dynasty
      The region was China's cultural, economical, and political center for its first 4000 years as a united country. Its vast, fertile plain was the heart of China, the center of fighting from the beginning of its civilization. Floods from the Yellow River cleaned the plain throughout history. Many peoples from the north invaded and established many successive regimes in Henan, such as Jurchen in the Jin Dynasty and Mongol in the Song and Yuan Dynasties; in addition, many foreign merchants came to trade in Henan. The land was able to absorb them all and they were gradually assimilated into Chinese culture. My father’s family Han had been up and down on this land; they lived, fought, and died. The Shaolin Temple founded by an Indian monk ( 少林寺) was a place for the young. The old saying reads, “Henan is the heart of heaven and the brave of earth.”
Shaolin Kung Fu (少林功夫) 
     The greatest historian Sima Qian (ca. 145 or 135 B.C.–86 B.C.) was born in Han City. He was the father of Chinese historiography, the Grand Historian (史記/ 史记), covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to Emperor Liu Che (Han WuDe 156–87 BCE 漢武帝 /汉武帝). His definitive work laid the foundation for later studies of Chinese historiography.
Dengzhou (邓州)in 1662-1722
      My father’s known roots were from a small Dengzhou (邓州), Henan province (河南) in Qing Dynasty. It was the heart of China’s central plain (中原). Dengzhou’s history could trace back to 6400 years ago from the newly discovered 八里岗仰韶文化遗址. Deng Xiaoping’s (邓小平) roots were from Denzhou, and the same for President Xi Jinping (习近平). Han Zoli (韩作黎1918-1998) was a famous educator and writer. Zhang Zhongjing (a well-known ancient Chinese medicine practitioner) and Han Yu (韩愈) were born there. Han Yu was, at the very least, very likely related to my father, even if my father was not one of his direct descendants.
My father Han ()’s 30 generation’s poem names:
                                         子宗国景方,原文肇自唐, 嘉庆创继业,
                                          树德建朝纲, 长龙传家远, 学耕互商联.
“吾家歷代先祖,忠於國家,為國效力,功名遠播,受四方景仰敬慕,此等家風傳統,上溯始於唐代(按唐建國兩百八十九年,公元618-907). 嘉慶(公元1796-1821)年間, 祖上 為官於朝,樹立德風,訂定朝綱體制. 子孫當秉承此等優良家風 傳統勤 於學文農耕,二者相輔相聯,長遠傳於後世” Translated by Frank Tsay:
“Throughout history, our ancestors have been loyal to the country, and served the country. Well known for its fame, admired by many. Trace back to the beginning of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Jiaqing Period (AD 1796-1821), our ancestors not only passed on family traditions, but also created the new. Push for morality and law in the royal court. Learning, farming, and merchant business all connect. . Let dragon spirits and our family name shine.”
     My father’s family history book started seven generations ago. Han Zizon (子让), his wife Mao (毛), and their son Zhong (宗) ran away from Denzhou 邓州, Henan 河南 between 1796-1820(嘉庆). Why Han Zizon (韩子让) and his wife Mao were running away was unknown. There was the White Lotus Rebellion at the time in his hometown. He did not have his old family books meaning perhaps that he was not the oldest, he did not have time to get them, or they were destroyed. He did not start his own family history book with a new generation poem, since he and his son were in it. Our generation poem told us that our Han were great in the Tang Dynasty and made good wishes for future generations.  His wife’s surname Mao 毛 ranked 76 in all Chinese surnames (Mao Zedong 毛泽东 was the Chairman of Communist China from 1949-1976).
Today's map shows two places named black dragon, not sure which one is ours:

山阳县历史大事件

Han Zizon's (韩子让) tomb in Shaanxi Shanyang (陕西 山阳)
韓子让和他的妻子毛氏帶著兒子韓宗亮 嘉庆在年間從河南邓州 逃往陕西 山阳.北側斜坡上購買的土地, 並將其命名為:韓陰坡”.   They settled in Shanyang (山阳) northwest of Denzhou (邓州), southeast Shaanxi (陕西), buying land on the north side of the slope and naming it Han Yingpo (韩阴坡).  Zhong (宗) had three sons.  Only Guo Zhao (国朝) had five sons. Next Jing generation (景) had a total of fourteen sons; my branch was the youngest of the five sons Jing Bang (景f榜) who had six sons.  The Fan (方) generation had forty-two sons (原), of which my branch was Fan Shen (方盛), who was the fourth son; he had four more sons and my grandfather Han Yanjian (韩原江) was the oldest of the four.  Ninety-eight sons were in my father’s generation (文).  
     Han Yanjian (韩原江) had two sons and a daughter. My father Han Wen Jian (韩文健) was the second son. His older brother was Han Wen Su (韩文述) who was not married and had no children. His younger sister was Han Wen Xiu (韩文秀)she gave her first husband Zhou one son and her second husband Zhang Jiu Se (张九思) two more children. Her first son's family name was changed from Zhou to Zhang, but he changed it back to Zhou when he grew up. My grandmother told me that my aunt Wen Xiu made me some very good cotton shoes when I was little.  They were so delicate that my grandmother could not make them. My name should have been (韩肇英), but our generation stopped using generation names, so my brother and sister did not have a generation name.  My name is Han Ying (韩英) instead.
     His father told him that he was very sick when he was born. They thought he was dead, so they put him outside up on a hill. The next morning after breakfast, on the way to work his father heard a baby crying and walked over and found him still alive, so he took him home and gave him a name Han Wen Jian (拣) that means “picked up or got it for free.” His father did not remember the exact day. He did remember that he and his neighbor’s son were born around the same time, the end of March 1933. My father had doubts about this story but he never got anything more out of his father. March in northern China was still freezing. One could not imagine how he could still be alive after spending an entire night outside, not mention the possibility that wild animals, such as a hungry wolf pack, probably would have noticed him too.
     The strange part was that his family book from Shanyang (山阳) listed his father and older brother. It did not list him and his sister. His father never went back to visit once after he left and no one else had. In 2001, two years after his sister (last Han in town) died, my father went back to Shanyang (山阳)for the first time since he left at ages two. He found a copy of his family book, but had to add himself and his sister on the printed family tree by hand before he gave it to me. That made me uneasy. My siblings and I did not even know he had an older brother since he never mentioned him, My mom knew he had an older brother, but my father always talked just about his younger sister. After I read his family book, he just said his older brother died before I was born. His brother was much older than him.
    It was understandable that his younger sister was not in the family book, since they did not know about her. I asked my father why he was not listed there, since he and his older brothers both were born there; he said that they must have forgotten about them since they left. I could sense my father’s emotion. He did not know why, and all the elders who knew were dead. I was upset too. I disliked the fact that the family tree did not include women, as if women were not there. Now, these forgotten women played a key motivating role for me in figuring out what happened to my father.
     If there really was a famine at the time, why did only they move away? No one else in the family moved. They owned a farm, and his father was the oldest son in his family. He was entitled to a lot in those days. Everyone else had to go first before him, not to mention that he was the only one left. Boys were always welcome on the farm. Girls were the ones farmers gave up.
     The second guess, most likely. And maybe my father was the son of his father and the neighbor’s girl who also gave birth to a boy around the same time. Her family had put the baby on the hill right before his father passed by, forcing him to take the baby home. The baby was not well accepted in his family.
     His father could have decided to take his older son, my two-year old father and his love with him when he ran away from home. They had to know someone first before they headed north, since there were no Han relatives there, but perhaps the girl had relatives there. His sister was born in 1936. His mother Zheng (郑氏) had to be pregnant on the way to the north in 1935, if not before. His father carried him. His mother and older brother walked for months and begged all the way from southern Shaanxi (陕西), crossing five towns or districts, including Xian (capital) in the middle, up north to the Yaozhou District (耀州区), formerly Yao County (耀县), where they decided to settle down. My father still remembered the Confucius poems that his parents taught him and still remembered that he was standing in front of the door, reciting the poem so the house owner would give him food to carry back to his family.
 My father’s father, Han Yanjian (韩原江), 5 generations away from Henan, he was still speaking Henan dialect (河南话)in Shaanxi.
《咥遍关中 耀州》西安 铜川
     His older brother and father went to work right away. His younger sister was born soon after; her name was Han Wen Xiu (韩文秀), Xiu means beautiful. They had two cows, a pig and chickens; soon, they had to sell them all because his mother became sick. His mother died a year after his sister was born. My father only remembered that he was wearing special clothes following the adults singing, bowing, and saying something; he did not realize that this event was his mother’s burial.
     Life was very difficult after their mother left. He remembered that he and his sister did not have shoes to wear outside; his mother used to make everything for them. He and his sister were at home waiting for his father and brother to come home after work.
     Once he was trying to cook some noodles for dinner so his father and brother could eat right away instead of cooking after work. It turned into a pot of thick soup and he could not even see any noodles. He had somehow made the noodles disappear. He prayed very hard that his father would not beat him after he came back. He was very scared when his father and older brother came home hungry. To his surprise, he did not get beaten. His father praised him instead. He said, “my dear son cooked me the most delicious meal.” His father cried, and he cried as well. That was the one memory he had about his father. His father never married again.
     He could not settle as a farmer like his older brother.  He felt he did not belong there.  As a result of these feelings, he left home when he was around eight years old when the Red Army came into his town (the Long March of the Red Army starting from my mom’s hometown Dingzhu, Fujian over 8000 miles had arrived at my father’s hometown). He worked as a messenger for them so they could feed him.
Overview map of the route of the Long March
Red-hatched areas show Communist enclaves. Areas marked by a blue "X" were overrun by Kuomintang forces during the
Fourth Encirclement Campaign, forcing the Fourth Red Army (north) and the Second Red Army (south) to retreat to more western enclaves (open dotted lines). The solid dotted line is the route of the First Red Army from Jiangxi. The withdrawal of all three Red Armies ends in the northeast enclave of Shaanxi.
Yan’an Chronicles Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11.
     After Japan surrendered in 1945, he joined the army at the end of that year when he was 12 years of age. First, he was in the military Guanzhong subdistrict guard battalion (关中军分区警卫营), which later became the Shaanxi and Gansu Border Region Defense Group (陕甘宁边区 保卫团), and then the Northwest Military and Political Committee of Xi'an Defense Group (西北军政委员会西安保卫团). He remembered how they tricked Hu Zongnan’s (胡宗南) 100,000 person army out of the city of Xi'an (西安). The real communist troops from the Northwest (西北军) and Northeast (华北军) could face him. A thousand of my father’s local army told the remaining local army that they were surrounded., either join them or to prepare to fight in two hours time. The wording was very carefully chosen on papers, not surrender, nor treason, but reorganization and reassignment. They kept everything of theirs plus more than the Communist army which made some very upset, especially the ones who went through the Long March, and a few committed suicide. They decided to join the communist army but put on a show as if they were fighting for a few hours, only shooting at the sky. My father and the rest of the 10,000 peasant soldiers walked into Xi'an (西安) when the city gate was opened. The city was like a ghost town without anyone on the street. All the shops and doors were closed; they brought their food along with their horse carriage, but it was very limited so they ate very little at a time and my father was hungry most of the time. My father said he did not even have a uniform; his Chinese-made rifle was so old that all the paint already had peeled away. All of the Nationalist soldiers only needed to take off their symbols, and sew on two black buttons to replace them, since they really had nothing else. Together, they were shouting “Protect Chang'an (长安)”; the local people were not convinced yet until the communist army defeated the Nationalists Hu Zongnan’s (胡宗南). The Communist Army from the Northwest (西北军) and Northeast (华北军) marched into the city with real army uniforms and American weapons, which were taken from the defeated Nationalist Army. They marched from the North gate to the South gate, and the East to the West gate; it was the first time for my father to see the Communist army this good, but still without cars, the horse carriage carried the heavy artillery.
     It only took one day after the March, when my father was shocked to see people come out of nowhere with firecrackers to welcome the communist army. The city was filled with people again and the shops were reopened. He finally could buy some food and not be hungry. There were five currencies at the time, silver, copper, Central Bank of China (民国钱币), Shaan Bi (陕币) and Renming Bi (人民币). Barter with each other was more common since money worth nothing.  Then all the businesses cut their prices to half for all the communist soldiers to welcome them. My father could not take one more or pay half because of the rule so they ended up pushing the goods back and forth. Finally, the communist leader went to talk to the local commerce, telling them not to treat soldiers differently; they pay the same price like everyone else.
     My father was too young to fight in the Civil War, so he stayed nearby as a security guard just like Han Xin from Chinese history. He was a security guard for leaders such as Zhu De (朱德), Peng Dehuai (彭德怀), and China’s president Xi Jinping’s father Xi Zhongxun (习仲勋). Their offices were inside of the imperial city (皇城) where the Emperors used to live. It was located on the left side of North Gate. He talked to them every day and they were very kind to him. They treated him as a kid when they played. He remembered one of the officials, He Long (贺龙) well because he smoked a long pipe like my grandfather did, and he often went out to talk to the local people. 
Han Jian (韩建)  restored the Imperial City in 904, he closed Suzaku (朱雀) three gates, greatly reduced its size. He opened Northern Xuanwumen (玄武门). Between 1374-1378, the expansion was based on Han Jian's original city walls. Ming Dynasty built two eye-catching building - Bell and Drum Tower

习仲勋
习仲勋
习仲勋
    It was an eye opening experience for my father in this old imperial city. He wandered everywhere, yet did not understand much of anything. He did not have to do anything except stand guard by the doors of officials and walk around to make sure they were okay. Innocently, my father went up to the Emperor’s seat and sat down, wondering how big and nice it was. My father was surprised when Xi Zhongxun and the others asked him to come down. They told him that it was a dragon chair (龙椅) filled with spirits, only the right one could sit there or it would be bad luck and short life. No others ever tried to sit on that chair. They only paid respects and made wishes there. My father was very scared by this.  See dragon chair (龙椅):
 

     In 1949, he joined the Communist Party at age sixteen. Since he did not go to school, his adviser actually filled out the application form for him. His adviser asked him why his name was Jian (picked up 拣). He told him the same story his father had told him. His adviser did not like it, so he recommended that he change his name from “picked up” to “construction”(建), so he could help build the New China. The two Chinese words sound the same but are written differently. He agreed. In 1960, after a stay at the hospital for acute hepatitis, he added another brush stroke (a standing person) on the left side of construction. The name still sounded the same, but now meant “healthy” (健).
     In 1950, he received a medal for his good work (人民功臣) and another medal for the liberation of the Northwest (解放大西北) by (西北军政委员会). When he was 18, the army sent him to an accelerated school where he finished grammar school, middle school, and high school in three years (1951-1953). He “went through hell” studying. When he came to Xian, he had never seen a car before. He did not know how to turn off the light at night, and tried to cover the light bulb with a black cloth, and almost burned down the imperial palace. The first time he watched a movie, he did not understand how a beam of light on a cloth could have people walking and talking. He did not have any weekends, holidays, nor contact with the outside. In 1954, he actually passed his exam and was accepted into Northwest University’s geology department where he met my mother.
 My mother Guan JuFen (官举芬) in Northwest University (西北大学) in Xi'an
      My father Han Wenjian in (韩文健) Northwest University (西北大学) in Xi'an
     The first year of college was very difficult again; he failed three subjects in his first semester. He wanted to give up and drop out of school. The party secretary spent a lot of time talking to him, and encouraged him not to give up; after all, the country really needed educated young people. As a party member now, he had an obligation to help build new China. He did not have to pay for anything while in school. In addition, he was paid almost a full salary (the amount after college) while studying. He thought that he was obligated to finish, so he could pay back his party and country, not to mention that he did not have any other options, except to go back home as a farmer. He stayed, the teachers gave him extra help after classes, and one of his classmates helped him a lot. He graduated with a B average. My mother’s grades were higher, but my mother had been in school since she was a little girl. She never had to work or worry about her next meal.
     My father said he asked my mom out right after he started earning passing grades. My mother was going out with a student from the economics department already. My father must have noticed, but he asked her out anyway. He told my mother that he could help her to join the Communist Party. This way, he would be her adviser and would have plenty of time with her. To his surprise, my mother went along with him.
     My mother wanted to go back home after graduation. Sichuan was in the southwest where my father and his family had never been. Everyday meals would change from wheat to rice, from plain to hot and spicy. Sichuan has hot and wet summers and cold and damp winters without heating (only north of the Yangzi River were houses built with heating). He would not understand or be able to speak the Sichuan dialect. Still, he went along with my mother. Years later, he spoke our Sichuan dialect at home with a very strong accent, but outside of our home, he spoke Mandarin with his Central Plains (中原) accent.
     After college, my mother and father were assigned to the department of surveying in the Sichuan Petroleum Institute, requiring a lot of fieldwork seven months per year from 1956-1973. My father’s team covered three provinces in the southwest, high, remote mountains, over 100 counties. They found an 18-foot dinosaur skeleton in the field, which later was set up in a museum.
     He and my mother were married in 1958 after they went back to visit my grandparents. My father said he did get permission from them to marry their daughter. My grandfather was lying in bed, with a long pipe smoking. They talked but my father had no clue what my grandfather said to him. My mom’s youngest sister, who was still in middle school, was crying because she wanted to go with them. They did not have any family members attend their wedding, only co-workers, and for refreshments they only had a few drinks and sweets. At night, my parents just put two single beds together.
     Taking a great risk, my father saw something wrong going on and raised questions to his upper officials. As a result, he was put in a labor camp for three months for not trusting the Communist party. He and my mother were then assigned to two different places. They had only one month each year to see each other. His brother died in 1961 and his father died in 1962; however, he did not go back home at either occasion, since he did not receive the news until two years later. His brother was buried next to his mother on the top of the hill. However, his father refused to join them according his own wish, so he was buried at the bottom of the hill alone. My father does not know the reason.
     My mother delivered me in 1961 without my father around. My youngest uncle was still in college in Chengdu; he took my mother to the hospital in place of my father. This was one of the reasons he loves me so much, not to mention that he had two sons later and no daughters. I wished that I was his daughter when I was having difficulties at home.
     When our family finally reunited in 1970, my father did not want to move again, since he wanted to make up for all the lost time together with my mother. He truly loved my mother and my mother was the princess in the home. They never argued once. When one of them was sick, they never wanted us to help or even enter their room. They helped each other.
     My father was the assistant director at the petroleum institute. He had a few other job opportunities that came along when I was in middle school and high school in the 1970s. One was in Northwest China after they found a new oil field, but he declined mostly considering us. My mother said there was nothing growing there. Later, an opportunity from southeastern China came, when oil was found under the sea. Once again, my father declined. My mother said there were hurricanes there every year and it would be too hot in the summer. Then, one of his friends came to our house one day, showing all these precious stones. He had left the oil industry and went to Yunnan in southwest China. He saw China changing to a market economy soon, and asked my father to join him. My father declined again. His friend became very rich a few years later. My father stayed; but gradually felt more and more heat from his colleagues as the years passed. 
     Later, he became the chairman of the Labor Union, but really did not have much power, except to listen to complaints from everyone. People used to come to our home crying until midnight with problems such as they had not been treated fairly at work or had fighting at home and wanted to divorce. My father just listened and advised them to try to do their job well and they were too old to divorce. Finally, he became a consultant and sat in his office everyday reading newspapers for a few years until he retired at age 60.  He received 100% of his pay and free health care.  My mom received 80% and she retired at age 55.
     My mom never learned how to cook or clean. We used to buy meals from the dining hall.  My father loved cleaning. He would even clean and mop the stairs from the first floor up to the third floor and then the door step. The stairs were shiny up to the 3rd floor and our floor was shiny. He used to sing while cleaning around the house. He was loud and everyone around us knew he sang his local folk songs from the North. My mother, who never sang, sometimes got tired of it and we were embarrassed as children. My mother asked him to stop singing, but he would sing louder and make faces at my mother and us, so we gave up.
《山丹丹开花红艳艳》01交响乐· Shaanxi folk music 陕北民歌·中央交响乐团演奏 
 【民歌中国 HQ】走西口 / 万贝 / Shaanxi folk song 陕北民歌
彭麗媛小姐 藍花花 
  My mother loved reading. Many times, she would be so absorbed by a book while reading on her chair that my father would ask her to pick up her feet and hold them up in the air so he could mop the floor. She simply asked my father to hurry up since her legs were tired. Sometimes my father would pick her and the chair up together. Other times, she would be in tears from something she read, while all of us would make faces at each other.
     My father got up early to prepare breakfast Monday to Saturday. He went to the dining hall and brought steamed buns home and then poured rice porridge into everyone’s bowl to cool. He woke all of us at 7 AM by turning on the radio in our rooms. My mom got up right away; my brother; my sister, and I had hardest time to getting up in the morning. My mother would call us many times, then take our blankets away. Of course, at night, it was my mother again yelling at us to turn off the lights and go to sleep. 
     One thing my father loved was sleeping late on Sunday. He would not get up until almost noon. My mother would call him many times after nine since we all ate rice porridge that my mother cooked. Finally, my father would get up and he always complained to my mother; he said, “the sun must have come up from the west; my wife cooked breakfast. She wanted the whole world to know so no one could rest in peace." My mother said in response, “lazy bones, the sun has already been beaming on your butt and dried you up in bed. Have some porridge and shut up.”
     My mother always picked up my father’s pay each month, cash at the time. My father would ask my mother for money for cigarettes. If my mother was not happy that day, he would not get it, since he was supposed to quit smoking. It cost too much to smoke, not to mention it was harmful to his health. Other times, my mother would buy cigarettes for him if she happened to see the best brand just came in (since they sold out fast). She sent money to her mother every month (20% from each one of her kids except my youngest unlce since my grandmom did not have any income). She sent money to her brother in need (my youngest uncle was in dire straits during the Cultural Revolution). My father later asked her to send his bonus to his home to help his poor sister on the farm. My mother always said “NO, because the farm was a black hole.” Once or twice, my father would complain he was doing everything around the house. My mother would say, “What do you think I need you for.” My poor father would stop complaining. It was always about my mother’s side of family. My mother went to his hometown once or twice, but never with any of us kids. I never cared until now. I regret that I did not go to see my father’s hometown or meet his sister and her children. I was in Xian, very close to his home for a month in college; I did not even think of going there and my parents never suggested it.

Red Army from Sichuan stuck in NW of China
See more China Han Family Website
  八百里秦川
Shanxi's New Han Family Courtyard (山西代县韩家大院)
上里镇韩氏后人
Food in Xi'an
《大美陕西》
陕北民歌


In 1951, Allyn Rickett was an American student in revolutionary China. He was also a spy. Along with his wife Adele, he was arrested and spent four years in a Chinese prison undergoing a process of criticism and self-criticism. Gradually, he came to realize that what he did was spying, and that it was hurting the Chinese people. In 1995, MIM and 14 other organizations brought Allyn Rickett to the University of Massachusetts for the first Prison Awareness Week. He spoke on his experience in revolutionary China where the government used study, self-criticism and labor to rehabilitate its enemies.