In Chinese culture, hometown or ancestral home () is the place of origin of one's extended family. It may or may not be the place where one is born. For instance, physicists Tsung-Dao Lee ( Nobelist, 1957) and Charles Kao (nobelist, 2009) were both born in
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four Direct-administered municipalities of China, direct-administered municipalities of the China, People's Republic of China, governed by the State Council o ...
, but their hometowns are considered to be Suzhou and Jinshan, respectively.


A subjective concept, a person's ancestral home could be the birthplace of ''any'' of their patriline ancestors.
Su Shi
Su Shi
limited it to five generations, i.e. it refers to the home of one's great-great-grandfather. Even more broadly, an ancestral home can refer to the first locality where a surname came to be established or prominent. Commonly, a person usually defines their hometown as what their father considers to be his ancestral home. In practice, most people would define their ancestral homes as the birthplace of their patriline ancestors from the early 20th century, around the time when government authorities began to collect such information from individuals. Moreover, a person's ancestral home can be defined in any level of locality, from
province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire's territorial possessions outs ...
county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...
down to town and village, depending on how much an individual knows about their ancestry.


The Chinese emphasis on a person's ancestral home is a legacy of its history as an
agrarian society An agrarian society, or agricultural society, is any community whose economy is based on producing and maintaining crops and farmland. Another way to define an agrarian society is by seeing how much of a nation's total production is in agricultu ...
, where a family would often be tied to its land for generations. In Chinese culture, the importance of family and regional identity are such that a person's ancestral home or birthplace plays an important social role in personal identity. For instance, at a university, students who hail from the same region will often become members of the regional/ hometown society or club for other people with the same background. Discussion of personal or ancestral origins is typical when two people meet for the first time. In recent years, the root-seeking (尋根 ''xúngēn'') movement has led to greater interest in ancestral hometowns, especially among
overseas Chinese Overseas Chinese () are people of ethnic Han Chinese, Chinese birth who reside outside the territories of the China, People's Republic of China (PRC), its special administrative regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as the Taiwan, Republ ...
. Ancestral lineages are an important part of Chinese business culture as it plays a central part of negotiating '' guanxi''. It can also have implications in other areas like politics. See: Shanghainese_people_in_Hong_Kong#Influence_on_business for an example of how ancestry and lineage systems play a part in business practices. Ancestral home is an item to be filled in many documents in the
People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering approximately 9.6& ...
Forms that required listing of "ancestral home" (籍貫) included school handbooks to be signed by the parents of schoolchildren.


National ID cards issued in Taiwan by the Republic of China government formerly carried an entry for "home citizenship" (本籍). Citizens would usually have their ancestral home (defined through the patriline) stated on these documents, despite having never set foot in their ancestral home. This practice was abolished by the government in the mid-1990s amid the Taiwan localization movement.

See also

*Chinese kin * Chinese ancestor worship, Chinese ancestral worship * Ancestral shrine & Ancestor tablets *Hukou system *Family register *Registered domicile *Place of origin *Bon-gwan


External links

籍貫 (zik6 gun3 , ji2 guan4) : ancestral land; native place - CantoDict
{{DEFAULTSORT:Ancestral Home Chinese culture