Jump to content


Photo

Chinese Surnames, Clans, etc


  • Please log in to reply
6 replies to this topic

#1 Bao Pu

Bao Pu

    One who is fond of the Dao (haodaozhe 好道者)

  • Admin
  • 1,433 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Canada
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Pre-Han Philosophy, Religion, Language and History, especially early Daoism

Posted 03 September 2006 - 03:19 PM

Hi
I would like some clarification on some Chinese terminology about geneology.

Xing 姓 surname
Shi 氏 surname?
Zu 族 clan
Jia 家 family

A Chinese clan (zong z 宗族) is a patrilineal and patrilocal group of related Chinese people with a common surname (Xing 姓) and sharing a common ancestor and, in many cases, an ancestral village (see clan). Clan loyalties tend to be very strong in the south of China, and to a large extent are reinforced by ties to the ancestral village, common property, and often a common spoken Chinese dialect which can be unintelligible to people outside the village. Clan structures tend to be weaker in the north of China, clan members do not usually reside in the same village nor share property in common. - Wikipedia


-- If members of the same clan share the same surname, then what is the difference? And why wouldnt they live in the same village in the north?

-- What are the differences between these terms (feel free to add some)?

thank you
May you enjoy good health, harmony and happiness.
Posted ImagePosted Image

#2 General_Zhaoyun

General_Zhaoyun

    Grand Valiant General of Imperial Han Army

  • Owner
  • 12,284 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Singapore (Taiwanese/Singapore Permanent Resident)
  • Interests:Chinese History, Chinese Philosophy and Religion, Chinese languages, Minnan/Taiwanese language, Classical Chinese, General Chinese Culture
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin, Taiwanese (Hokkien), English, German, Singlish
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Taiwanese Hoklo)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    General Chinese Culture
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Language, History and Culture

Posted 03 September 2006 - 11:05 PM

Hi
I would like some clarification on some Chinese terminology about geneology.

Xing 姓 surname
Shi 氏 surname?
Zu 族 clan
Jia 家 family


-- What are the differences between these terms (feel free to add some)?
thank you


Generally speaking, the translation for the above terminology are as follow:

Xing 姓 surname
Shi 氏 surname or clan
Zu 族 clan/family group/ethnicities
Jia 家 family/home

There is a very good chinese article on the history of chinese surname, and explanation of its terminology in our chinese board at http://www.chinahist...?showtopic=9116

1. Basically, chinese surname was first derived from the "Xing 姓", which first appeared in the matriarchy (i.e. female-dominated) society of China before Xia dynasty. You will notice that the character "Xing 姓" contains a radical "Nu 女" (which means "female") and a radical "Sheng 生" (which means "give birth"). Thus the character "Xing 姓" means "birth originated from a female". It was a symbolic representation of how the ancient chinese tried to trace their blood origin from a female rather than from a male. In fact, during the matriachy society, the people only know who their mother was and do not know who their father was, due to the practice of polygamy (multiple inter-marriage, many females marry with many males) as well as female-dominated society.

During the matriachy society, the people of an entire tribe followed the surname of the female tribal leader. This surname came to be known as "Xing 姓" and was essentially the surname of a matriarchy tribe. The presence of "Xing 姓" allowed the easier recognition of which tribe you belonged to. It also fostered inter-marriage within the same tribe. Ancient chinese surname such as "Ji 姬"、"Jiang 姜"、"Ying 赢"、"Gui 妫"、:"Si 姒" were all derived from matriarchy society in the form of "Xing 姓".

2. As chinese society developed towards a more complex patriarchy (male dominated) society by neolithic period (Yellow Emperor's time), the male came to dominate the society and began to head an entire tribe. The matriarchy surname form "Xing 姓" was unable to satisfy large population increase during that period of time. In a certain tribe, a powerful male of great importance began to label himself with his own surname in the form of "Shi 氏" (clan). This resulted in the development of "Shi 氏" (a male dominated clanship) within a tribe. The presence of "Shi 氏" was a symbolic representation of patriachy (male dominated) society. "Shi 氏" was essentially a patriarchy surname (i.e. surname following a male leader). The society organization followed a transition from tribes to clans (a tribal confederation), where people began to follow the surname (i.e. Shi 氏 ) of the male leader within a certain clan.

During Xia/Shang dynasty, females usually had "Xing 姓" (female surname) and males had "Shi 氏". But the slaves did not have any rights to have surname at all. But by the Zhou dynasty, almost every person in China began to have their own surnames. The definition for "Xing 姓" and "Shi 氏" came to be rather blurred and gradually merged together to refer the same thing (i.e. surname).

By Spring/Autumn and Warring States period, "Xing 姓" and "Shi 氏" were merged together as one to form "Xing Shi 姓氏" (surname), in which both terms refer to the same thing, and where there is no difference between the two. Before that, Xing 姓 was used to trace the origin from a female and Shi 氏 was used to trace the origin from a male.

From Han dynasty onwards, the surname "Xing Shi 姓氏" permeated through the entire chinese society from peasants to emperors.

3. For "Zu 族", it can means alot of thing. It can refer to a large family clan and to a broader aspect an entire ethnicity. It is a generic term to designate 'great social organisation" such as ethnicity or even race.

"Shi 氏" (clan) can be combined with "Zu 族" to form "Shi Zu 氏族", which literally means "a large family clan". In ancient times, "Shi Zu 氏族" usually refers to a large family clan sharing the same surname in the form of "Shi 氏".

In today's terminology, "Zu 族" usually refers to a particular ethnicity in China such as "Han Zu 汉族" (han ethnicity), "Meng Gu Zu 蒙古族" (Mongol ethnicity), "Hui Zu 回族" (Hui ethnicity) etc. It generally refers to a group in China sharing a common language, cultural or ancestry background.


4. For "Jia 家", it generally refers to a family/home. "Jia 家" (family) can even be combined with "Zu 族" (clans) to form 'Jia Zu 家族", which generally means "large family clan".


-- If members of the same clan share the same surname, then what is the difference? And why wouldn’t they live in the same village in the north?


You normally cannot tell the difference, unless you go for a DNA and genealogy test.

As clans (people sharing the same "Shi 氏" surname) grow larger in terms of population, due to various migration, war and other historical happenings, the internal family groups within a clan began to be separated from one another, and migrated to different parts of China. This resulted in many chinese families having the same clan surname, but they do not necessarily recognise each other's family as their own families today. Historically speaking, they can be traced to the same origin. But because of inter-marriage between different clans, it is also hard to tell which clan you exactly originate from.
Posted ImagePosted Image

"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#3 Bao Pu

Bao Pu

    One who is fond of the Dao (haodaozhe 好道者)

  • Admin
  • 1,433 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Canada
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Pre-Han Philosophy, Religion, Language and History, especially early Daoism

Posted 04 September 2006 - 08:04 AM

1. Basically, chinese surname was first derived from the "Xing 姓", which first appeared in the matriarchy (i.e. female-dominated) society of China before Xia dynasty. You will notice that the character "Xing 姓" contains a radical "Nu 女" (which means "female") and a radical "Sheng 生" (which means "give birth"). Thus the character "Xing 姓" means "birth originated from a female". It was a symbolic representation of how the ancient chinese tried to trace their blood origin from a female rather than from a male. In fact, during the matriachy society, the people only know who their mother was and do not know who their father was, due to the practice of polygamy (multiple inter-marriage, many females marry with many males) as well as female-dominated society.

As we have discussed elsewhere, the "matriarchy theory" is still debated. I have a book (which I have not finished reading) called The Chalice and the Blade in Chinese Culture written by a large group of Chinese scholars called "The Chinese Partnership Research Group" in which the issue is discussed. There are different views, and much is determined by definitions of "matriarchy." Most agree on the Matrilineality of early Chinese culture though. "Only knowing your mother" does not prove anything other than the obvious observation that the woman who gives birth to a person is their mother, but who the father is cannot be proven (without DNA analysis). It also suggests that mothers raised the children, not the fathers. But this is a different topic.

The rest of your reply is quite informative, thank you.

I also checked at wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia....Chinese_surname

The article disagrees with you on a few points, but nonetheless, both that article and yours are helpful. The nature of Chinese surnames and terminology is complex and somewhat confusing still to me.

Another question, Baixing 百姓 refers to the common people. Was this always the case, or did it only refer to nobility in the early times (e.g., Western Zhou)?
May you enjoy good health, harmony and happiness.
Posted ImagePosted Image

#4 General_Zhaoyun

General_Zhaoyun

    Grand Valiant General of Imperial Han Army

  • Owner
  • 12,284 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Singapore (Taiwanese/Singapore Permanent Resident)
  • Interests:Chinese History, Chinese Philosophy and Religion, Chinese languages, Minnan/Taiwanese language, Classical Chinese, General Chinese Culture
  • Languages spoken:Mandarin, Taiwanese (Hokkien), English, German, Singlish
  • Ethnic Groups or Race:Han Chinese (Taiwanese Hoklo)
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    General Chinese Culture
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Chinese Language, History and Culture

Posted 04 September 2006 - 08:31 AM

As we have discussed elsewhere, the "matriarchy theory" is still debated. I have a book (which I have not finished reading) called The Chalice and the Blade in Chinese Culture written by a large group of Chinese scholars called "The Chinese Partnership Research Group" in which the issue is discussed. There are different views, and much is determined by definitions of "matriarchy." Most agree on the Matrilineality of early Chinese culture though. "Only knowing your mother" does not prove anything other than the obvious observation that the woman who gives birth to a person is their mother, but who the father is cannot be proven (without DNA analysis). It also suggests that mothers raised the children, not the fathers. But this is a different topic.


Thanks, good to know that..

The rest of your reply is quite informative, thank you.

I also checked at wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia....Chinese_surname

The article disagrees with you on a few points, but nonetheless, both that article and yours are helpful. The nature of Chinese surnames and terminology is complex and somewhat confusing still to me.


The source for information I posted was based on that chinese article in the chinese board. To be honest, I'm not an expert in this area. I'm not too sure about the exact details, as the study of chinese ancestry lineage is classified under a field of chinese cultural study known as "Pu Xue 谱学 (surname/ancestry study)" Quite frankly speaking, I haven't 'formally' read any book on Pu Xue or chinese surname.

Maybe you can point out some difference between that (wikipedia) article and my post. I'll be interested to know the difference.

Another question, Baixing 百姓 refers to the common people. Was this always the case, or did it only refer to nobility in the early times (e.g., Western Zhou)?


I'm not too sure, but I have never heard of "Baixing 百姓" being used to refer to nobility in early times. It's always used to refer to common people. In Zhou dynasty, I've read somewhere that nobility are referred to as "Shi Zu 氏族" (clan family). The proper term for nobility in chinese is called "Gui Zu 贵族" (Noble Clan) .
Posted ImagePosted Image

"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang

#5 urofpersia

urofpersia

    Emperor (Huangdi 皇帝)

  • CHF Grand Historian Award
  • 3,174 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Earth - Sol System
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    none

Posted 04 September 2006 - 09:14 AM

Bao Pu,

are your queries about those terms in ancient China or modern? Some of them probably have acquired different meanings.

I think it was fcharton who once mentioned about the 百姓 referring to a specific group but I can't find the thread.
Ur of Persia

#6 fcharton

fcharton

    Emperor (Huangdi 皇帝)

  • CHF Grand Historian Award
  • 3,016 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Nemours and Paris
  • Interests:Contemporary poetry, these days...
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    PreQin, Classical chinese

Posted 04 September 2006 - 10:55 AM

Bao Pu,
I think it was fcharton who once mentioned about the 百姓 referring to a specific group but I can't find the thread.



I definitely have posted about this, can't remember where, but I can search if you want. According to Granet and Maspero, under the Zhou, having a Xing was an important feature, because it meant one was a descendent of a "famous character" who had been bestowed a Xing (surname) by one of the emperors of old. As far as I know, under the Zhou, Xing were transmitted through the male line (the ruling feudal families kept their Xing, and were obviously male lines, or we would certainly not be able to refer to the First Emperor as a member of the Ying clan...)

The surname (xing) was an important feature of Zhou religion, as the common ancestor of a clan was the basis for the ancestor cult. Marrying inside one's Xing was strictly taboo (cf Yun's comment about this in the Wu / Fuchai recent thread in PreQin-Qin subforum). Also, Maspero observes that having a Xing depended on being related to one of the few 'great ancestors', so, even though having a Xing probably doesn't mean being a noble, it surely meant belonging to some kind of gentry. Anyway, the Xing being related to the women line might be a reality in the Shang or before, but I doubt it was in the Zhou dynasty (no hint of this in the Chunqiu or Guoyu).

As for the Shi, the word has many meanings, so confusion can probably arise. It is sometimes used as a polite designation for women (the Zuozhuan does this a lot), meaning "Dame". This might have led some to believe that Shi is related to the women line. In practice, I think the Zuozhuan and Sima Qian use Shi to designate a branch in a clan, ie a "sub-surname", a bit like the idea of "house" in european middle ages.

Zu, again, has many meanings. It often means the close relatives, Zu can mean to kill the relatives to a certain degree (a mode of punishment), I think it means blood relation in general. And Jia is more related to the Household, ie people living under the same roof, than blood.

Francois

#7 sg_han

sg_han

    Prime Minister (Situ/Chengxiang 司徒/丞相)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,642 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Location:none
  • Interests:none
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    none

Posted 04 September 2006 - 07:24 PM

so basically xing and shi no difference right?
大韓民國의國歌-愛國歌




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users