Monday, January 21, 2013

Chinese Names

Chinese names consisted of the family name (surname), generation name, and given name. Children followed their father’s surname. The first grandfather who broke away from his family set up the generation name; each member of a generation (i.e., siblings and cousins of the same generation) shared that name character as their generation name. Generation names were a very important way of passing on ancestors’ information, where they came from, and what were their beliefs and wishes for the following generations. These names usually made up a poem.
     My mom's Guan (官) generation poem:
朝庭选举, 忠孝尊荣, 武功丕显, 
新体昭明, 长思世德, 大振家声.
My cousin Guan Zhong Pu (众仆) who taught Chinese all his life translated this to: 
朝庭选拔地方举荐, 忠孝之人来当官, 武功大放光辉, 新体制明明白白, 常常想一想人世间的恩德, 努力发奋使官氏家族名声远播.
     This means "The royal court always selects from the local officials who are loyal to the country,  and respect and care for the old. Our family always lets justice shine with unbeatable martial arts. The Reformed New System is the future of China. Our ancestors have already set up a high moral standard, passing on an honorable and noble tradition. Forever keep the family’s good name.”  My grandfather was of the Xuan (选) generation and my mother’s generation is Ju (举), I am in the Zhong (忠) generation. My children are in the Xiao (孝) generation.
     My father's Han (韩) generation poem is:
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.
My cousin Guan Zhong Pu ( 众仆) who taught Chinese all his life translated this to: 
我们这一族人的祖宗发源于景方, 字辈原文开始于唐代, 大清嘉庆年间继往开来家族大业,年间有建树对于朝廷的法纪, 像长龙一样香火不断传下去, 一族人读书种地互相商量团结互助.
         This means "Throughout history, our ancestors have been loyal to the country, and served the country. Well known for its fame, admired by many. They can be traced back to the beginning of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In the 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 help each other. Let dragon spirits and our family name shine.”. My father is of the Wen (文) generation. I am of the Zhao (肇) generation. My sons and my sister's kids are in the Zhi (自) generation.
     There is an additional name called the Chinese style name, sometimes also known as a courtesy name, Zì (字), a given name to be used later in life. After 20 years of age, the Zì was assigned in place of one's given name as a symbol of adulthood and respect. Primarily used for male names, one could be given a Zì by the parents or by their first personal teacher on the first day of family school, or one could adopt a self-chosen Zì. Pseudonyms (號) usually were self-selected names.
     A Chinese clan's genealogy together with Chinese history is more helpful than either one by itself. Jia Pu (家谱 - translated as genealogy record), also known as Zu Pu/Zhu Pu 族谱, is a record of a clan's history and lineage. It documents the origins of the surname, the migration patterns of the clan, the family lineage, the ancestral biography, and the story of the locality. It eulogizes the clan's ancestors and encourages future generations to keep the good name of the clan. The Jia Pu was founded as early as the Shang Dynasty (1523-1028BC). Family trees of clans were written on turtle shells, cow bones, and bronze.
     A "Jia Pu" usually begins with the first settler to a place who started his family there and ends with the contemporary generation that draws up the genealogy. The first-born son and the first-born grandson are listed vertically downwards on the right, while the brothers of the first-born are listed horizontally on the left. Descriptions of each generation are confined in horizontal divisions of the form. These spaces contain information such as the ancestor’s name and aliases, dates of birth and death, short descriptions, official rank, and burial place (sometimes second burial place for the Hakka). The proceeding generations are recorded in a similar manner. Jia Pu does not record women in the family. Sons carry on the family name, while daughters are considered part of their husband's family. They are marginalized, since they are unlikely to extend the family's lineage.
     Matrinames have existed since before patrinames.  The Chinese surname did not follow the father; it was usually associated with surroundings, such as birds, animals, and seeds. Women were centered with children and men moving around. The Chinese word for a surname consisted of a woman (女), such as Si (姒) and Ji (姬). In order to gain power, stories were made up about how the woman became pregnant without intercourse; rather she became pregnant because of a supernatural cause. During the Xia Dynasty, the mother of Yu (禹) dreamed a meteor falling from the sky and it turned into a seed (姒). She decided to eat the seed and became pregnant. She named her son Yu (禹) with surname Si (姒). During the Shang Dynasty, a bird flew by and dropped an egg, which the mother somehow swallowed and she became pregnant; she named her children Zi (好). Later, during the Zhou Dynasty, the mother found a huge footprint in the forest. After putting her feet inside of the footprint, she became pregnant, so her daughter was named Ji (姬). Today's Mosuo families in southwest part of China tend to trace their lineage through the female side of the family.  According to some, men have no responsibility in Mosuo society—they would have no jobs, rest all day, and conserve their strength for nighttime visits, it called Walking Marriage.  In some of the isolated mountains, sisters could still marry to one man or two brothers will marry one woman. See today's Old Town of Lijiang (World Heritage).
 The Kingdom of Women Part 1
 The Kingdom of Women Part 2

Amazing Marriage Chinese Customs
      The Chinese patrinames surname started around the Spring and Autumn Period (春秋時代 770-476 B.C.); only the rich and powerful had surnames. 100 surnames actually meant the official title’s name. Common people did not have a surname. Country names became surnames after one lost one’s country, like my father’s Han (韩), or kept one’s official names, like my mother’s Shangguan (上官). The Emperor also gave names to his younger sons when they sent them out to rule; they usually named them after the name of a site. Sometimes, one even made one’s own surname. Tang Emperor Li to western border minorities did this so they would not cause trouble. To Li’s dismay, he did not make it to the top four surnames. Later on, the common people also had a surname, resulting in a division between the high and low classes (贵/贱). The first thing the Chinese would ask when meeting someone is what is your surname?, then where are you from? That would be enough to tell where one stands in social class. The rich and powerful usually have more than one name.
     In the past, family names served sociological functions. Because of their association with the elite in their early times, family names were often symbols of nobility. Nobles would use their family names to trace their ancestry and to figure out their seniority in terms of hereditary rank. Examples of early genealogies of royalty could be found in Sima Qian's Historical Records (史记). Family name identity and solidarity declined after 1949. The decline of Confucianism and the rise of Communism in Mainland China confused the Chinese names. During the Cultural Revolution, the government persecuted the culture of the family name. Ancestral shrines and genealogies were destroyed. Generation names became a thing of the past, and people still followed their father’s surname. I had classmates who did not even follow their mother’s or father’s family names; or the girls followed their mother’s family name and the boys followed their father’s family name.
     Our generation consisted of those born after 1949. My uncle’s oldest son took the name Zhong (忠). He was the oldest of our small family and the second oldest of the big Guan family. In this way, he was Xiao Guan (means small Guan). None of the Guans in our family followed the family generation name from then on. Many of us do not even have a generation name. There are always ways to keep the generation name, and not break the government new rule. One of our cousin's parents used "众" instead of "忠", the two words sounds similar but are spelled differently. His older brother was 众志.
     Chairman Mao destroyed the class issue by destroying everything old, so no one could track family history.  Today China has brought back class and race issues, along with drugs back into society. Both the extremely wealthy and extremely poor face the New China.
    The top ten family names account for about 40% of the Chinese in the world. They are Wang/Wong (王), Li/Lee (李), Zhang/Chang/Cheung (張/张), Liu/Lau (劉/刘), Chen/Chan (陳/陈), Yang/Young/Yeung (楊/杨), Huang/Wong (黃/黄),  Zhou/Chou/Chow/Chau (周), Sun (孙), Wu/Woo/Ng (吳/吴). The first 100 family names make up over 80%; the first 200 make up over 90% of the Chinese population.
     My father's family name Han/Hon (韓/韩) ranks 26th . Koreans used to call themselves of the Han Country (韓国) and the Capital Han City (汉城) before changing it to Sou. Han (韓) is a much more common surname in Korea. According to the 2000 census, Han ranked the seventh most common surname in Korea. The Han were descendants of the hero Gija, a Shang Dynasty king, who rode his white horse and established a nation at the eastern end called Han Country. Many Korean historians believe that Gijun of Gojoseon was actually "Hanjun"(한준) who had the surname Han (韓) not Gi. All the Kings of Gija Joseon had the surname Han (韓). Gija Joseon was also Han (韓). Gija was from the Chinese Shang Dynasty, Gija was a paternal uncle (or brother) of the last emperor of the Chinese Shang Dynasty (商朝 1700-1046 B.C.), King Zhou, a native of east China. Gija's and his descendants all had the surname Han (韓).

Surname Han from Namespedia
Surname Han
Surname Han is used at least 34956 times in at least 54 countries.
Given name Han
Family names
Han Tran (18)
Han Kim (18)
Han Nguyen (16)
Han Lee (14)
Han Wang (12)
Han Liu (9)
Han Zhang (8)
Han Zhou (8)
Han Chen (8)
Han Jiang (7)
Han Duong (6)
Han Chung (6)
Han Wong (5)
Han Lam  ...

Surname Han in Austria   Surname Han in Croatia   Surname Han in France   Surname Han in Germany   Surname Han in Hungary
Surname Han in Italy   Surname Han in Norway   Surname Han in Poland   Surname Han in Switzerland   Surname Han in USA 
《百家讲坛》 20130131 百家姓 (第一部)
       My mother’s Shangguan/Guan (上官/官) was an official name, literally meaning higher official or upper official. The last name Shangguan was from Xiong (熊), the last name of Chu Huai King (楚怀王). Zi Lan (子蘭) was the younger son of the Chu Huai King and was given an offical title Shangguan Da Fu (上官大夫). He and his offspring took the last name Shangguan, while his older brother became the king and kept the last name Xiong (熊), ranking 72. Shangguan was ranked at 510, but it did not make it to 80% or 90%. It was within 10% of rare Chinese names. All the sons on my mother’s side had style names, so it looked like they had two names. My father’s side did not have these names since he left when he was so young and his family fell apart.
20140205 百家姓(第二部)13 茅 庞



記住鄉愁‬ : China's single family name towns and villages