di, founder of the Qin dynasty
, created the title of Huangdi
, which is translated as "emperor" in English.
The nobility of China was an important feature of the traditional Social structure of China|social structure
of Ancient China
and Imperial China
While the concepts of hereditary
sovereign and peerage
titles and noble
families were featured as early as the semi-mythical, early historical period, a settled system of nobility was established from the Zhou dynasty
. In the subsequent millennia
, this system was largely maintained in form, with some changes and additions, although the content constantly evolved. After the Song dynasty
, most bureaucratic offices were filled through the imperial examination system
, undermining the power of the hereditary aristocracy. Historians have noted the disappearance by 1000 AD of the powerful clans that had dominated China. The last, well-developed system of noble titles was established under the Qing dynasty
The Republican Revolution of 1911
ended the official imperial system. Though some noble families maintained their titles and dignity for a time, new political and economic circumstances forced their decline. Today, the nobility as a class has virtually disappeared.
Sovereign and ruling family ranks
, Regent of China considered de facto sovereign of China for 47 years during AD 1861–1908
(AD 1871–1908) are pictured in this image and the one immediately below: in this one Consort Zhen
, popularly mislabelled with the lower-ranking title "Pearl Concubine" in English, his favorite, and her older sister...
, on the left, older sister of Consort Zhen shown above, beside Empress Dowager Longyu on her right
The apex of the nobility is the Monarch|sovereign
. The title of the sovereign has changed over time, together with the connotations of the respective titles. In Chinese history are generally 3 levels of supreme and fully independent sovereignty or high, significantly autonomous sovereignty above the next lower category of ranks, the aristocracy
who usually recognized the overlordship of a higher sovereign or ruled a semi-independent, tributary, or independent realm of self-recognized insufficient importance in size, power, or influence to claim a sovereign title, such as a Duchy which in Western terms would be called a Duchy
, or some level of Chiefdom
The broadest sovereign is what gets translated as the single term emperor
in English. An emperor might appoint or confirm or tolerate subsovereigns or tributary rulers styled king
As a title of nobility, Ba Wang, hegemon
, recognized overlordship of several subordinate kings while refraining from claiming the title of emperor within the imperium of the Chinese subcontinent, such as its borders were considered from era to era. Sovereigns holding the title of king of an individual state within and without the shifting borders of the Chinese imperium might be fully independent heads of foreign nations, such as the King of Korea
who might, in some cases, be subordinate to foreign emperors just as territorial or tribal sovereign Mongol khans
might be subject to one of several Khagan
s or Great khan
s. Confusingly, some Chinese emperors styled many or all close male relatives of certain kinds such as brothers, uncles, or nephews as wang, a term for king, using it as a courtesy title. However, Chinese histories since ancient works such as Shiji
were also fairly liberal in terming local tribal chiefs as "king" of a particular territory ranging from vast to tiny, using convenient terms of the form "(locality)" + "(king)" such as Changshawang, "King of Changsha
" which was briefly recognized as a kingdom but was usually a smaller part of Chu
state or just a county of the Sui dynasty
state, or phrases such as Yiwang, "Yi
(Eastern) Foreign ('barbarian') king(s)," while in other cases or by other authors other terms such as usi
"native chief" might be used for the same office. The downward extensibility of terms for "king" in more casual usage also influences other allusive uses of these terms. In modern colloquial Chinese the term "king" is sometimes also used, roughly as loosely as in English, for such non-literal terms as mien da wang, "great king of noodles" for a pasta-lover, where an English-speaker might use such terms as ing of the Road
Family members of individual sovereigns were also born to titles or granted specific titles by the sovereign, largely according to family tree proximity, including blood relatives and in-laws and adoptees of predecessors and older generations of the sovereign. Frequently, the parents of a new dynasty-founding sovereign would become elevated with sovereign or ruling family ranks, even if this was already a posthumous act at the time of the dynasty-founding sovereign's accession.
Titles translated in English as "prince" and "princess" were generally immediate or recent descendants of sovereigns, with increasing distance at birth from an ancestral sovereign in succeeding generations resulting in degradations of the particular grade of prince or princess and finally degradation of posterity's ranks as a whole below that of prince and princess. Sovereigns of smaller states are typically styled with lesser titles of aristocracy such as Duke of a Duchy or Marquis rather than as hereditary sovereign Princes who do not ascend to kingship as in the European case of the Principality of Monaco
, and dynasties which gained or lost significant territory might change the titles of successive rulers from sovereign to aristocratic titles or vice versa, either by self-designation of the ruler or through imposed entitlement from a conquering state. For example, when Shu (state)
's kings were conquered by Qin (state)
, its Kaiming rulers became Marquises such as Marquis Hui of Shu who attempted a rebellion against Qin
overlords in 301 BC.
Imperium (emperor and ennobled family)
Although formally Tianzi, "The Son of Heaven
," the power of the Chinese emperor
varied between different emperors and different dynasties, with some emperors being absolute rulers and others being figureheads with actual power in the hands of court factions, eunuch
s, the bureaucracy or noble families.
* In the earliest, semi-mythical age, the sovereign was titled either ''huang'' (Chinese: 皇 huáng) or ''di'' (Chinese: 帝 dì). Together, these rulers were called the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors
. For the lists of the earliest, mythological rulers, both titles are conventionally translated in English as "Sovereigns" though individual rulers entitled either huang or di from this period are translated in English with the title "Emperor" as these early mythological histories aim to feature the sovereigns of the evolving polity of the Chinese state, tracking those states which can best be claimed in a roughly continuous chain of imperial primacy interspersed with several periods of disunity such as the Spring and Autumn period
, the Warring States
Period, the Three Kingdoms
Period, the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
Period, the republican Chinese Civil War
and so on.
* The sovereigns during the Xia dynasty
and Shang dynasty
called themselves Di (Chinese: 帝 dì); rulers of these dynasties are conventionally translated with the title "king" and sometimes "emperor" in English even though the same term used in the mythologically previous dynasties is conventionally translated with the title "emperor" in English.
* The sovereign during the Zhou dynasty
called themselves Wang (Chinese: 王 or 國王; wáng), before the Qin dynasty
innovated the new term huangdi which would become the new standard term for "emperor." The title "Wang" should not be confused with the common surname, which, at least by middle and later Chinese historical usage, has no definite royal implications. Rulers of these dynasties are conventionally translated with the title "king" and sometimes "emperor" in English.
or Huangdi (皇帝, pinyin
: huáng dì) was the title of the Chinese head of state
of China from the Qin dynasty in 221 BC until the fall of the Qing
dynasty in 1911. The first emperor of Qin (Qin Shi Huang
) combined the two characters ''huang'' (皇 "august, magnificent") and ''di'' (帝 "God, Royal Ancestor") from the mythological tradition and the Xia and Shang dynasties to form the new, grander title "Huangdi". Since the Han dynasty
, ''Huangdi'' began to be abbreviated to ''huang'' or ''di''.
The title of emperor was usually transmitted from father to son. Most often, the first-born son of the empress
inherited the office, failing which the post was taken up by the first-born son of a concubine
or consort of lower rank, but this rule was not universal and disputed succession was the cause of a number of civil wars. Unlike the case of Japan
, the emperor's regime in traditional Chinese political theory allowed for a change in dynasty, and an emperor could be replaced by a rebel leader. This was because a successful rebel leader was believed to enjoy the Mandate of Heaven
, while the deposed or defeated emperor had lost favour with the gods, and his mandate was over, a fact made apparent to all by his defeat.
Empress, consort, concubine and other imperial spouses
It was generally not accepted for a female to succeed to the throne as a sovereign regnant in her own right
, rather than playing the role of a sovereign's consort or regent for a sovereign who was still a minor in age, so that in history of China there has only been one reigning empress, the Empress Wu
, whose reign occurred during (and actually caused) an interregnum of the Tang dynasty
. However, there have been numerous cases in Chinese history where a woman was the actual power behind the imperial throne
(see éminence grise
Hou, Empress, actually Empress Consort in English terms, was a title granted to an official primary spouse of the polygamous male Chinese Emperor, and for the mother of the Emperor, typically elevated to this rank of Empress Dowager
, bearing a senior title such as Tai Hou, Grand Empress, regardless of which spousal ranking she bore prior to the emperor's accession. In practice, many Chinese Empress Dowagers, either as official regent for a sovereign who was still a minor in age or from the influence of position within family social ranks, wielded great power or is historically considered to have been the effective wielder of supreme power in China, as in the case of Empress Dowager Cixi
, Regent of China considered de facto sovereign of China for 47 years during AD 1861–1908.
s, ranking below Empress, aren't often distinguished in English from imperial Concubine
s, the next lower rank, but these were also titles of significance within the imperial household, and Imperial Madam
s might be translated as Consorts with the intention of distinguishing them from Empresses though all Empresses except the sole case of one Empress Regnant in Chinese history are technically Empress Consorts in English terms, primacy spouses of the Emperor Regnant who is actually invested with governmental rule.
, the Rites of Zhou, states that Emperors are entitled to the following simultaneous spouses:
* 1 Empress (皇后)
* 3 Madames or Consorts (夫人)
* 9 Imperial Concubines (嬪)
* 27 Shifus (世婦)
* 81 Imperial Wives (御妻)
Hegemony (hegemons and ennobled family)
Sovereigns styled Ba Wang, hegemon
, asserted official overlordship of several subordinate kings while refraining from claiming the title of emperor within the imperium of the Chinese subcontinent, such as its borders were considered from era to era, as in the case of Xiang Yu
who styled himself Xīchǔ Bàwáng, Western Chu
Hegemon, appointing subordinate generals from his campaigns of conquest, including defeated ones, as Wang, kings of states within his hegemony.
Royalty (kings and ennobled family)
As noted above in the section discussing Emperors, the sovereigns during the Xia dynasty
and Shang dynasty
who called themselves Di (Chinese: 帝 dì) and during the Zhou dynasty
who called themselves Wang (Chinese: 王 or 國王; wáng), was the title of the Chinese head of state until the Qin dynasty
. The title "Wang" should not be confused with the common surname, which, at least by middle and later Chinese historical usage, has no definite royal implications. Rulers of these dynasties are conventionally translated with the title "king" and sometimes "emperor" in English.
Enfeoffing members of overthrown dynasties
It was a custom in China for the new dynasty to ennoble and enfeoff a member of the dynasty which they overthrew with a title of nobility and a fief of land so that they could offer sacrifices to their ancestors, in addition to members of other preceding dynasties. This practice was referred to as "the two crownings and three respects
When the Xia dynasty
was overthrown by the Shang dynasty
, Xia descendants were given a title and fiefs by the Shang King in the Qi (Henan)
, and Zeng (state)
. (The Kings of Yue (state)
claimed to be a cadet branch of the Xia).
When the Shang dynasty was overthrown by the Zhou dynasty
, the Zhou King granted a Shang descendant the title of Duke and fief in the Song (state)
, and the Zhou King also reconfirmed the titles of the Xia descendants in the Qi and Zeng. Confucius
was a descendant of the Shang Kings via the Song Dukes and Confucius' descendants held the hereditary title Duke Yansheng
right to 1935.
When the Yue (state)
King Wujiang (無彊) was conquered by Chu (state)
, the Chu King enfeoffed Wujiang as Marquis of Ouyang Ting.
When the Han dynasty Emperor Xian of Han
was dethroned by the Cao Wei
Emperor Cao Pi
, Cao granted Emperor Xian the title Duke of Shanyang (山陽公). His grandson Liu Kang (劉康) inherited his dukedom, which lasted for 75 more years and two more dukes, Liu Jin (劉瑾) and Liu Qiu (劉秋), until the line was exterminated by invading Xiongnu tribes in about 309, during the Jin dynasty
The Emperors of Shu Han
came from a cadet branch of the Han dynasty. When the Shu Han Emperor Liu Shan
was defeated by Cao Wei, the Cao Wei enfeoffed Liu Shan as the "Duke of Anle" (安樂公; literally meaning "duke of peace and comfort") while his sons and grandsons became marquises. Liu Shan died in 271 in Luoyang, and was given the posthumous name "Duke Si of Anle" (安樂思公; literally "the deep-thinking duke of Anle"). His dukedom lasted several generations during Wei's successor state, the Jin Dynasty
, before being extinguished in the turmoils caused by the Wu Hu
When the Eastern Wu
was defeated by the Jin Dynasty
, the Jin Emperor granted the Eastern Wu Emperor Sun Hao
the title of "Marquis of Guiming". Sun Hao's sons were made junior officials in the Jin government.
When the Jin Dynasty Emperor Gong of Jin
was overthrown by the Liu Song Emperor Wu of Liu Song
, Emperor Wu enfeoffed Emperor Gong as Prince of Lingling. However Emperor Gong was ordered killed. Sima Guang
was a Jin Imperial family descendant who became a chancellor in the Song dynasty hundreds of years after the fall of the Jin.
When the Liu Song Emperor Shun of Liu Song
was overthrown by the Southern Qi Emperor Gao of Southern Qi
, Emperor Gao enfeoffed Emperor Shun as Prince of Ruyin. However Emperor Shun was killed.
When the Southern Qi Emperor He of Southern Qi
was overthrown by the Liang dynasty Emperor Wu of Liang
, Emperor Wu enfeoffed Emperor He as Prince of Baling. However Emperor He was killed.
When the Liang dynasty Emperor Jing of Liang
was overthrown by the Chen dynasty Emperor Wu of Chen
, Emperor Wu enfeoffed Emperor Jing as Prince of Jiangyin. However Emperor Jing was killed.
The Xianbei Tuoba
royal family of Northern Wei
started to arrange for Han Chinese elites to marry daughters of the royal family in the 480s.
Some Han Chinese exiled royalty fled from southern China and defected to the Xianbei. Several daughters of the Xianbei Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei
were married to Han Chinese elites, the Han Chinese Liu Song
royal Liu Hui 刘辉, married Princess Lanling 蘭陵公主 of the Northern Wei,
Princess Huayang 華陽公主 to Sima Fei 司馬朏, a descendant of Jin dynasty (265–420)
royalty, Princess Jinan 濟南公主 to Lu Daoqian 盧道虔, Princess Nanyang 南阳长公主 to Xiao Baoyin
萧宝夤, a member of Southern Qi
royalty. Emperor Xiaozhuang of Northern Wei
's sister the Shouyang Princess was wedded to The Liang dynasty
ruler Emperor Wu of Liang
's son Xiao Zong 蕭綜
When the Eastern Jin dynasty ended Northern Wei received the Jin prince Sima Chuzhi 司馬楚之
as a refugee. A Northern Wei Princess married Sima Chuzhi, giving birth to Sima Jinlong 司馬金龍
. Northern Liang
King Juqu Mujian
's daughter married Sima Jinlong.
When the Northern Qi
Emperor Gao Heng
was overthrown by Northern Zhou Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou
, Emperor Wu enfeoffed Emperor Gao Heng as Duke of Wen. However Gao Heng was killed.
When the Northern Zhou Emperor Jing of Northern Zhou
was overthrown by the Sui dynasty Emperor Wen of Sui
, Emperor Wen enfeoffed Emperor Jing as Duke of Jie. However, he had all of close male clansmen of the duke—all grandsons of Emperor Jing's great-grandfather Yuwen Tai
—put to death, as well as Emperor Jing's brothers Yuwen Kan (宇文衎) the Duke of Lai and Yuwen Shu (宇文術) the Duke of Yan. About three months later, Emperor Wen had the Duke of Jie secretly assassinated as well, but pretended to be shocked and declared a mourning period, and then buried him with honors due an emperor. The dukedom was passed to a distant relative, Yuwen Luo (宇文洛).
When the Western Liang (Southern and Northern Dynasties) (西梁) Emperor Jing of Western Liang
was overthrown by the Sui dynasty Emperor Wen of Sui
, Emperor Wen enfeoffed Emperor Jing as Duke of Ju (莒公) and then as Duke of Liang (梁公). His nephew Xiao Ju (蕭鉅) inherited the title of Duke of Liang.
When the Chen dynasty
Emperor Chen Shubao
was overthrown by the Sui dynasty Emperor Wen of Sui
, Emperor Wen enfeoffed Chen Shubao as Duke Yang of Changcheng (長城煬公).
The Tang dynasty Emperors claimed descent from the Dukes of Western Liang (Sixteen Kingdoms)
(西涼) and posthumously gave them Imperial titles.
When the Tang dynasty Emperor Ai of Tang
was overthrown by the Later Liang
Emperor Zhu Wen
, Zhu Wen enfeoffed Emperor Ai as Prince of Jiyin. However Emperor Ai was killed.
There were Dukedoms for the offspring of the royal families of the Zhou dynasty, Sui dynasty
, and Tang dynasty
in the Later Jin (Five Dynasties)
When the Wuyue
King Qian Chu
surrendered to the Song dynasty
the Song Emperor Taizong of Song
raised the prefecture of Yangzhou to the nominal state of Huaihai, and installed Qian Chu as King of Huaihai. In 984, Qian Chu was made King of Hannan (a smaller nominal feoff) instead, and in 987 reduced again to King of Hanyang, with the right to take up residence in Hanyang, but then immediately additionally created Prince of Xu, with an enlarged fief. In 988, Qian Chu lost his title as king and was made Prince of Deng instead, with a larger nominal fief and actual income.
When the Jin dynasty (1115–1234)
defeated the Liao dynasty
and Northern Song Dynasty Emperor Tianzuo of Liao
and Emperor Qinzong of Song
were first enfeoffed with derogatory titles by the Jin, with Emperor Tianzuo becoming the Prince of Haibin 海滨王 ("Seashore Prince") and Emperor Qinzong becoming the Marquess of Chonghun (重昏, "Doubly muddled"); his father received a similarly derogatary-sounding title. In 1141, as the Jin relations with the Southern Song were about to normalized, Qinzong's captors granted him a neutrally-sounding title of the Duke (公, gong) of Tianshui Jun, after a commandery in the upper reaches of the Wei River
(now in Gansu
), while his father (who had died in 1135) was posthumously styled the Prince of ''Tianshui Jun''; a few months later he started receiving a stipend due to his rank. Liao royal family members who stayed in the Jin state like Yelu Lu
and his son Yelü Chucai
served the Jin and then the Yuan dynasty as officials. Other members of the Khitan Liao royal family like Yelü Dashi
and Song Imperial family like Emperor Gaozong of Song
both survived to rule the Kara-Khitan Khanate
and Southern Song dynasty
When the Kingdom of Dali
was conquered by the Yuan dynasty
, King Duan Xingzhi of Dali was then enfeoffed as Maharaja
by the Yuan Emperor Kublai Khan
. The Southern Song dynasty Emperor Gong of Song
was enfeoffed as the Duke of Ying (瀛國公) by Kublai Khan, however, the Emperor Yingzong of Yuan
ordered him to commit suicide. The Song Prince Zhao Yurui
was enfeoffed with the title Duke of Pingyuan Canton (平原郡公) by Emperor Kublai Khan. Other Song Imperial family members like Zhao Mengfu
and Zhao Yong
were left alive by the Yuan. Zhao Yiguang
was a Song Imperial family descendant who was a writer during the Ming dynasty.
When the Ming dynasty
fell and the Qing dynasty
took over, the Qing Emperors granted a Ming descendant the title Marquis of Extended Grace
and gave him a stipend to perform sacrifices to his ancestors, the Ming Emperors at the Ming Imperial Tombs
. The Qing granted Zheng Keshuang
of the Kingdom of Tungning
the title of "Duke of Haicheng" (海澄公) after he surrendered to the Qing.
When the Northern Yuan Chahar Borjigin
Mongol Khan Ejei Khan
surrendered to the Qing, he was given the title of Prince of the first rank (Qin Wang, 親王), a title he held until his death in 1661, and inherited by his younger brother Abunai (阿布奈). Abunai openly showed his discontent toward the Manchu
and he was put under house arrest in Shenyang
by the Kangxi Emperor
in 1669 and his imperial title / rank was given to his son Borni (布尔尼) in September of that same year. Borni (布尔尼) was careful to not show any sign of disrespecting the Qing Dynasty
, but finally in 1675, he suddenly rebelled along with his younger brother Lubuzung (罗布藏), capitalizing on the Revolt of the Three Feudatories
. However, they had made a serious miscalculation in wrongfully believing that other Mongols would join them, when in reality only three thousand Chahar (Mongols)
joined the rebellion. It only took a single decisive battle on April 20, 1675 to defeat Abunai (阿布奈) and his followers, who were all killed subsequently in their retreat. The Qing Dynasty
's punishment of the rebellion was very harsh: all royal males of Chahar (Mongols)
were executed, including infants born to Qing / Manchu princesses, and all royal females of Chahar (Mongols)
were sold to slavery except these Qing / Manchu princesses.
The Republic of China allowed the last Qing Emperor to stay in the Forbidden City and keep his title, treating him as a foreign monarch until 1924. The descendants of Confucius were maintained in the title of Duke Yansheng
until 1935 when the title was changed to Sacrificial Official to Confucius (大成至聖先師奉祀官), which remains as a position to this day, currently held by Kung Tsui-chang
The Zhou dynasty
not only preceded the full unification of early China under the Qin dynasty
, the first empire whose realm would subsequently be considered to extend broadly enough to be national in the context of the territorial concept of China, the Zhouli
, Rites of Zhou were subsequently canonized by Confucius
among his Confucian Chinese classics
as a model precedent in principles of government, so ranks of nobility in later regimes both in periods of unified sovereignty and of competing smaller states would typically draw from its catalog of peerage. From Zhouli, later Confucian political philosophy and government publications, and from the surrounding historical literature of particular individuals, localities and events, the following social classifications have been attested.
Honors and awards, and clan law, of the Zhou dynasty
The social system of the Zhou dynasty
is sometimes referred to as the Chinese proto-feudalism
and was the combination of Fengjian
(honors and awards) and ''Zongfa'' (clan law). Male subjects were classified into, in descending order of rank:
*the nobles – ''Zhuhou'' (諸侯 pinyin
*the gentlemen ministers (of the royal court) – ''Qing'' (卿 qīng),
*the gentlemen bureaucrats – ''Daifu'' (大夫 dà fū)
– ''Shi'' (士 shì)
s – ''Shumin'' (庶民 shù mín).
''Zongfa'' (宗法, clan law), which applied to all social classes, governed the primogeniture
of rank and succession of other siblings. The eldest son of the consort
would inherit the title and retained the same rank within the system. Other sons from the consort, concubine
s and mistresses
would be given titles one rank lower than their father.
As time went by, all terms had lost their original meanings nonetheless. ''Qing'' (卿), ''Daifu'' (大夫) and ''Shi'' (士) became synonyms of court officials. Physician
s were often called ''Daifu'' during the Late Imperial China
. Referring to a male or self-reference of a male as ''Gongzi'' eventually became a way to raise one's ''mianzi'' (refer to Face (social concept)
), and would indeed be considered flattery today.
Peer ranks of the Zhou dynasty
Under the Zhou dynasty
were ''Wǔděngjuéwèi'' (), five (aristocratic) peerage ranks (abbreviated ''Wǔjué'') below the royal ranks in the following descending order from higher to lower rank:
* Duke (), which especially featured sovereign family members, though after changes of lines within an imperial or royal House or between dynasties, or through internal adoptions or coups, a duchy's current rulers might have been severed from current imperial or royal sovereigns and have become a distinct lineage of their own; high dukes might be styled, though not explicit "royal dukes" as in the English peerage. A Chinese royal duke might be a clan prince or (courtesy title) family "king" under the emperor while simultaneously holding a Duchy, whether enfoeffed with land or without portfolio. A character whose fundamental meaning is "public", ''gōng'' is also used in titles, ordinary names, and honorific names including deified stylings in ways other than indicating the peerage rank of duke.
(), usually with the same emphasis on being a national borderland march
lord as with the European title marquess
* Count ()
* Viscount (), which is also extensively used in Chinese nicknames as the meaning of the character is "child," as well as in courtesy names and honorific names in which context the character came to mean "master" as in Kongfuzi or Kongzi, Confucius
, Master of surname Kung, or the Daoist patriarch Laozi
, Old Master.
* Baron (), which is also used outside of its use as a peerage term to indicate male gender in individual names and in classifications such as "men", as the character's fundamental meaning is "male".
Titles of female members of the aristocracies varied in different dynasties and eras, each having unique classifications for the spouses of the emperor. Any female member excluding a spouse of an emperor can be called a princess
or ''gōngzhǔ'' (公主), and incorporated her associated place into her title if she had one.
Other titles and honorifics
Besides the systematized ranks listed above, there were also other familial appellations used as titles, e.g. ''Shu'' (叔, paternal younger uncle) or ''Jiu'' (舅, maternal uncle).
Sons of kings who did not receive other titles were generically called ''Wangzi'' (王子, king's son), and their children ''Wangsun'' (王孫, king's grandson). Similarly, sons and grandsons of dukes and lords are called ''Gongzi'' (公子, duke's son) and ''Gongsun'' (公孫, duke's grandson).
These honorifics occasionally became heritable titles, no longer indicating relation with the reigning king. And some clans even took them as family names. ''Gongzi'' eventually evolved into the generic honorific for all young gentry. Today it is either used as a flattering way to address an interlocutor's son, or an pejorative term for a wealthy man. ''Wangzi'', on the other hand, is used today as the generic translation for foreign princes (in the sense of a monarch's son, as opposed to a sui generis title).
The southern state of Chu
had a notably distinct culture from the central plain states, including the nobility system. The royal Xiong clan and its collateral branches of Qu, Jing and Zhao formed the main aristocracy of Chu. Besides the royal clans, Chu did not have a system of nobility early on. Chu's formal system of rank only appeared around the late Spring and Autumn period, with such titles as ''Tonghou'' (通侯, lit. marquis-peer), ''Zhigui'' (執珪, lit. jade scepter bearer), ''Zhibo'' (執帛, lit. silk bearer). Noble ranks come with a state stipend, and holders of the highest ranks also received fiefs and the honorific title ''Jun'' (君, lord), e.g. Lord Chunshen
Noble titles in Chu were bestowed primarily as reward for military and civil service, and were not heritable in principle.
Prior to the systematization of ranks in early Han dynasty
, Liu Bang
, being of Chu origin, also awarded distinctly Chu titles.
After Zhou dynasty
Qin and Han dynasty
Prior to the Qin dynasty
, ''Wang'' (sovereign) was the title for the ruler of whole China. Under him were the vassal
s or ''Zhuhou'' (諸侯), who held territories granted by a succession of Zhou dynasty
kings. They had the duty to support the Zhou king during an emergency and were ranked according to the Five Orders of Nobility. In the Spring and Autumn period
, the Zhou kings had lost most of their powers, and the most powerful vassals became the de facto
ruler of China. Finally, in the Warring States period
, most vassals declared themselves ''Wang'' or kings, and regarded themselves as equal to the Zhou king.
After Zheng, king of the state of Qin, later known as Qin Shi Huang
, defeated all the other vassals and unified China, he adopted the new title of ''Huangdi'' (emperor). Qin Shi Huang eliminated noble titles, as he sponsored legalism
which believed in merit, not birth. He forced all nobles to the capital, seized their lands and turned them into administrative districts with the officials ruling them selected on merit. After the demise of Qin Er Shi
, the last Qin ruler to use the title ''Huangdi'' (his successor Ziying
used the title King of Qin rather than Emperor), Xiang Yu
styled himself Hegemon King of Western Chu (Xichu Bàwáng 西楚霸王) rather than Emperor. Xiang Yu gave King Huai II of Chu
the title of ''Emperor of Chu'' (楚義帝) or ''The Righteous Emperor of Southern Chu'' (南楚義帝) and awarded the rest of his allies, including Liu Bang
, titles and a place to administer. Xiang Yu gave Liu Bang the Principality of Han, and he would soon replace him as the ruler of China.
The founder of the Han dynasty
, Liu Bang, continued to use the title ''Huangdi''. In order to appease his wartime allies, he gave each of them a piece of land as their own "kingdom" (Wangguo
) along with a title of ''Wang''. He eventually killed all of them and replaced them with members of his family. These kingdoms remained effectively independent until the Rebellion of the Seven States
. Since then, ''Wang'' became merely the highest hereditary title, which roughly corresponded to the title of prince, and, as such, was commonly given to relatives of the emperor. The title ''Gong'' also reverted purely to a peerage
title, ranking below ''Wang''. Those who bore such titles were entirely under the auspices of the emperor, and had no ruling power of their own. The two characters combined to form the rank, ''Wanggong'', grew to become synonymous with all higher court officials.
The title of Duke of Song and ''"Duke Who Continues and Honours the Yin"'' (殷紹嘉公
) were bestowed upon Kong An 孔安 (東漢)
by the Eastern Han dynasty because he was part of the Shang dynasty's legacy.
This branch of the Confucius family is a separate branch from the line that held the title of Marquis of Fengsheng village and later Duke Yansheng.
The Han dynasty
bestowed the hereditary title 周子南君
upon the Zhou dynasty royal descendant Ji Jia 姬嘉
and his descendants.
Family tree of Chinese nobility from the Han dynasty to the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period
Between Han and Sui
Nine-rank system Dishu system
Special "commanderies of immigrants" and "white registers" were created for the massive amount of northern origin Han Chinese who moved south during the Eastern Jin dynasty.
The southern Chinese aristocracy was formed from the offspring these migrants. Celestial Masters
and the nobility of northern China subdued the nobility of southern China during the Eastern Jin and Western Jin in Jiangnan in particular.
The most populous region of China was southern China after the depopulation of the north and the migration of northern Chinese to southern China. Different waves of migration of aristocratic Chinese from northern China to the south at different times resulted in distinct groups of lineages, with some lineages arriving in the 300s-400s and others in the 800s-900s.
All ethnicities who were of the literati were possibly called Haner because ethnic Xianbei were referred to as "damned Chinese" by the Northern Qi. Appearing as culturally Xianbei and at the same time declaring Han Chinese ancestry was done by Gao Huan
and the Han family. The Han Chinese Gao family of Bohai (渤海高氏
) was claimed by Gao Huan as his ancestors.
Of Han Chinese background who was Xianbeified, he was raised in Huaishuozhen while his family came from Bohai prefecture
in modern Hebei. He became Xianbeified since his clan was raised in Inner Mongolia after being relocated from what is modern Hebei (Bohai) where his Han Chinese ancestors lived.
Honorary Bohai descent was bestowed upon Gao Longshi by Gao Huan. Bohai was asserted as the ancestral home of Gao Huan by Gao Huan.
Huaibei was the source of the Zhou of Runan 汝南周氏
who were part of the Eastern Jin dynasty.
The Linghu of Dunhuang 敦煌令狐氏
were descended from King Wen of Zhou
through his son Duke Gao of Bi 畢公高.
The Yan of Langye 琅邪顏氏
spawned Yan Zhitui
The Northern Wei
's Eight Noble Xianbei
were the Buliugu 步六孤, Helai 賀賴, Dugu 獨孤
, Helou 賀樓, Huniu 忽忸, Qiumu 丘穆, Gexi 紇奚, and Yuchi 尉遲
. They adopted Chinese last names.
A fief of 100 households and the rank of 崇聖侯 ''Marquis who worships the sage'' was bestowed upon a Confucius descendant, Yan Hui's lineage had 2 of its scions and Confucius's lineage had 4 of its scions who had ranks bestowed on them in Shandong in 495 and a fief of ten households and rank of 崇聖大夫 ''Grandee who venerates the sage'' was bestowed on 孔乘 Kong Sheng who was Confucius's scion in the 28th generation in 472 by Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei.
Despite the massacre Cui Hao
's clan, the Cui clan of Qinghe
survived into the Tang dynasty
Sui dynasty and Tang dynasty
The northwest military aristocracy was where the Sui dynasty
Emperors originated from
and they emphasized that their patrilineal ancestry was ethnic Han,
claiming descent from the Han official Yang Zhen. and the New Book of Tang
traced his patrilineal ancestry to the Zhou dynasty
kings via the Dukes of Jin
. The Sui Emperors had maternal Xianbei ancestry from a woman of the Xianbei Dugu family.
The Guanzhong noble families of Han Chinese background married the Northern Zhou Xianbei Yuwen family.
The Tang dynasty
Imperial family claimed to be paternally descended
(whose personal name was Li Dan or Li Er),
the Han dynasty
General Li Guang
Qin General Li Xin
and Western Liang
ruler Li Gao
. This family was known as the Longxi Li lineage (隴西李氏
). The Tang Emperors had Xianbei maternal ancestry
from Emperor Gaozu of Tang
's Xianbei mother Duchess Dugu.
Ancient Han ancestry was asserted by the Tang and Sui Emperors.
The northeastern Chinese aristocracy during the Sui-Tang period was of pure Han blood, while they looked down upon the northwestern aristocracy which was of mixed Han and Xianbei blood. The hybrid mixed blood Chinese and Northwestern (Guanlong) 關隴集團
aristocracy was where the Sui dynasty Emperors and Tang dynasty Emperors originated from.
It came from their Xianbei mothers.
Dugu Tang Sui Guanlong
China was reunited by them.
The Northeastern aristocracy supported Wu Zetian
while the Northwestern aristocracy opposed her. The northwestern aristocracy was countered by the northeastern aristocracy who were supported by the Sui Yangdi Emperor. There was not necessarily unity on political positions within both the northeastern and northwestern aristocracies.
During the Tang dynasty
, nobles lost most of their power to the mandarins
when imperial examination
replaced the nine-rank system
. The Anding origin noble Liang family produced Liang Su
, a Confucian scholar. An anti-meritocratic pro-aristocratic faction was led by Li Linfu
Power was held in a large degree by Han Chinese noble families of the Central Plains-based Northern Qi and Eastern Wei in the northeastern area.
A "marriage ban" was applied to the northeastern aristocracy.
During the Tang dynasty the Li family of Zhaojun 赵郡李氏
, the Cui clan of Boling
, the Cui clan of Qinghe
, the Lu clan of Fanyang
, the Zheng family of Xingyang w:zh:荥阳郑氏
, the Wang family of Taiyuan 太原王氏
, and the Li family of Longxi 隴西李氏
were the seven noble families 七姓十家
between whom marriage was banned by law. Moriya Mitsuo wrote a history of the Later Han-Tang period of the Taiyuan Wang. Among the strongest families was the Taiyuan Wang. The prohibition on marriage between the clans issued in 659 by the Gaozong Emperor was flouted by the seven families since a woman of the Boling Cui married a member of the Taiyuan Wang, giving birth to the poet Wang Wei.
He was the son of Wang Chulian who in turn was the son of Wang Zhou.
The marriages between the families were performed clandestinely after the prohibition was implemented on the seven families by Gaozong. The Zhou dynasty King Ling's son Prince Jin is assumed by most to be the ancestor of the Taiyuan Wang.
The Longmen Wang were a cadet line of the Zhou dynasty descended Taiyuan Wang, and Wang Yan and his grandson Wang Tong hailed from his cadet line.
Both Buddhist monks and scholars hailed from the Wang family of Taiyuan such as the monk Tanqian.
The Wang family of Taiyuan included Wang Huan.
Their status as "Seven Great surnames" became known during Gaozong's rule.
The Taiyuan Wang family produced Wang Jun who served under Emperor Huai of Jin
A Fuzhou-based section of the Taiyuan Wang produced the Buddhist monk Baizhang.
Other clans included the Zhao of Tianshui 天水趙氏, the Gao of Bohai 渤海高氏, the Liu of Pengcheng 彭城劉氏
, the Zhang of Qinghe 清河張氏, the Zhang of Nanyang 南陽張氏, the Pei of Hedong 河東裴氏
, the Wei of Jingzhao 京兆韋氏
, the Yang of Hongong 弘農楊氏
, and the Wang of Langye 琅邪王氏
The Zheng family of Xingyang 滎陽鄭氏
claim descent from the Zhou dynasty Kings via the rulers of the State of Zheng.
The Marquis of Xingyang rank was created for Zheng Xi. The Xingyang Zheng spawned Zheng Daozhao and Zheng Xi.
Zheng Wanjun was a member of the Xingyang Zheng.
The Xingyang Zheng spawned Zheng Yuzhong (Zheng Qiao).
The Xingyang Zheng spawned Zheng Jiong. The Zheng of Xingyang may have been miswritten in the records as the Zheng of Rongyang.
The bigger Longxi Li lineage outside of the Tang Imperial family has prominent members like Li Jiongxiu
, Li Yiyan
, Li Kui (chancellor)
, Li Wei (Tang dynasty)
, Li Fengji
, Li Zhongyan
, Li Jing (Tang dynasty)
, Li Zhaode
, and Li Bai
was part of the Cui clan of Qinghe
The Tang Longxi lineage also included sub lineages like the Guzang Li (姑臧李), from which Li Zhuanmei 李專美
The Zhaojun Li were written about by David Johnson while the Cui of Boling were written about by Patricia Ebrey.
The cadet Canhuang Li were part of the Li of Zhaojun. The Li of Longxi produced Li Kuan 李觀
while the Li of Zhaojun produced Li Hua 李華
The Tianshui Zhao 天水趙氏. The Song dynasty Emperors hailed from the Guandong Zhao while the Longxi Li produced the Tang Emperors.
The seven clans were divided into a further 44 sub branches.
The Li of Zhaojun and the Lu of Fanyang hailed from Shandong and were related to the Liu clan which was also linked to the Yang of Hongnong and other clans of Guanlong.
The Li of Zhaojun, Lu of Fanyang, Zheng of Yingyang 滎陽鄭氏
were of Shandong origin like the Wang of Taiyuan.
The Yang of Hongnong 弘農楊氏
were asserted as ancestors by the Sui Emperors like the Longxi Li's were asserted as ancestors of the Tang Emperors.
The Dukes of Jin
were claimed as the ancestors of the Hongnong Yang. The Yang of Hongnong spawned 楊昭儉 Yang Zhaojian. This clan was the family of Yang Guozhong
, Yang Guifei
, and Yang Wan
Their ancestor was Yang Zhen who served during the reign of Emperor An of Han
. He is mentioned in the Book of the Later Han
The Pei of Hedong 河東裴氏
produced Pei Qi.
The Yang of Hongnong, Jia of Hedong, Xiang of Henei, and Wang of Taiyuan from the Tang dynasty were claimed as ancestors by Song dynasty lineages.
The Zhou of Runan 汝南周氏
lived on after the Tang dynasty's collapse.
and Meng Jiao
were descendants of Mencius
who lived during the Tang dynasty.
After Tang dynasty
Some Song dynasty families were descended from Tang era nobility.
Some of the Tang dynasty Imperial family's cadet branches ended up in Fujian- one founded by Li Dan 李丹 which became prominent in the Song dynasty. another founded by Li Fu 李富 also becoming prominent during the Song dynasty.
The Tang Longxi lineage also included sub lineages like the Guzang Li 姑臧李,
from which Li Zhuanmei 李專美
came from, who served the Later Jin
Descendants of the Tang Emperors live in Chengcun village near the Wuyi mountains in Fujian.
Subsequent dynasties expanded the hereditary titles further. Not all titles of peerage are hereditary, and the right to continue the heredity passage of a very high title was seen as a very high honour; at the end of the Qing dynasty
, there were five grades of princes, amongst a myriad of other titles. For details, see Qing dynasty nobility
A few Chinese families enjoyed hereditary titles in the full sense, the chief among them being the Holy Duke of Yen
(the descendant of Confucius
); others, such as the lineal descendants of Wen Tianxiang
, ennobled the Duke of Xingguo, not choosing to use their hereditary title.
When the Ming dynasty emerged Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang
's military officers who served under him were given noble titles which privileged the holder with a stipend but in all other aspects was merely symbolic. (功臣世表) Mu Ying
's family was among them.
Special rules against abuse of power were implemented on the nobles.
was a descendant of the Xia dynasty
Kings through Shao Kang
Duke Huan of Lu
's son through Qingfu (慶父) was the ancestor of Mencius
. He was descended from Duke Yang of the State of Lu
魯煬公 Duke Yang was the son of Bo Qin
, who was the son of the Duke of Zhou
of the Zhou dynasty
royal family. The genealogy is found in the Mencius family tree (孟子世家大宗世系).
During the Ming dynasty, one of Mencius' descendants was given a hereditary title at the Hanlin Academy
by the Emperor. The title they held was Wujing Boshi (五经博士; 五經博士
; Wǔjīng Bóshì).
In 1452 Wujing Boshi was bestowed upon the offspring of Mengzi
-Meng Xiwen 孟希文 56th generation
and Yan Hui
-Yan Xihui 顔希惠 59th generation,
the same was bestowed on the offspring of Zhou Dunyi
-Zhou Mian 週冕 12th generation, the two Cheng brothers (Cheng Hao
and Cheng Yi
-Chen Keren 程克仁 17th generation
), Zhu Xi
-Zhu Ting 朱梴 (Zhu Chan?) 9th generation, in 1456–1457, in 1539 the same was awarded to Zeng Can
's offspring-Zeng Zhicui 曾質粹 60th generation, in 1622 the offspring of Zhang Zai received the title and in 1630 the offspring of Shao Yong. Zhang Zai
's offspring received the appointment as wujing boshi along with Zhu Xi
's, Cheng Hao
's, Cheng Yi
's, and Zhou Dunyi
Biographies of those who were awarded the title of Wujing Boshi in the Ming dynasty are found in Volume 284, Biographies 172 of the History of Ming
The Imperial Clansmen consisted of those who trace their descent direct from the founder of the Qing dynasty
, and were distinguished by the privilege of wearing a yellow girdle; collateral relatives of the imperial house wore a red girdle. Twelve degrees of nobility (in a descending scale as one generation succeeds another) were conferred on the descendants of every emperor; in the thirteenth generation the descendants of emperors were merged in the general population, save that they retain the yellow girdle. The heads of eight houses, the Iron-capped (or helmeted) princes, maintained their titles in perpetuity by rule of primogeniture
in virtue of having helped the Manchu conquest
The title Wujing boshi 五經博士
was created in the Han dynasty.
Holders of the title were considered part of Hanlin Academy
Confucian sages (Disciples of Confucius
and Neo Confucian scholars
) offspring were granted the office of "Wujing Boshi" (五经博士; 五經博士; Wǔjīng Bóshì).
There were 22 of them.
"''Present Day Political Organization of China''" by V.V. Hagelstrom and H.S. Brunnert contains a list of people who were awarded the title: ''The title of 五經博士 Wu3 Ching1 Po2 Shih4, or simply 博士 Po2 Shih4 (literary designation, 大瀚博 Ta4 Han4 Po2), is also transmitted to the eldest, in a direct line, of the descendants of the following famous men of antiquity : 1. 周公 Chou1 Kung1
, 2. 顏淵 Yen2 Yüan1
, 3. 曾子輿 Tsêng1 Tzu3-yü2
, 4. 閔子騫 Min3 Tzu3-ch'ien1
, 5. 仲季路 Chung4 Chi4-lu4
, 6. 有子有 Yu3 Tzu3-yu3
, 7. 端木子貢 Tuan1 Mu4 Tzu3 Kung4
, 8. 卜子夏 Pu3 Tzu3-hsia4
, 9. 言子游 Yen2 Tzu3-yu2
, 10. 冉伯牛 Jan3 Po2-niu2
, 11. 冉仲弓 Jan3 Chung4-kung1
, 12. 顓孫子張 Chuan1 Sun1 Tzu3 Chang1
, 13. 孟子 Mêng4 Tzu3
, 14. 伏生 Fu2 Shêng1
, 15. 韓愈 Han4 Yü4
, 16. 周敦頤 Chou1 Tun1-i2
, 17. 邵雍 Shao4 Yung1
, 18. 程顥 Ch'êng2 Hao4
, 19. 程頤 Ch'êng2 I2
, 20. 張載 Chang 1 Tsai3
, 21. 朱熹 Chu1 Hsi3
, and 22. 關羽 Kuan1 Yü3
It was also granted to the cadet branch of the Confucius family at Quzhou
The descendants of the Four Sages 四氏
, and Yan Hui
still use generation poems
for their names given to them by the Ming and Qing Emperors.
The Qing appointed the Ming imperial descendants
to the title of Marquis of Extended Grace
's offspring, the Celestial Masters
held the title of 正一嗣教眞人.
The main line of the Duke of Zhou's descendants came from his firstborn son, the State of Lu
ruler Bo Qin
's third son Yu (魚) whose descendants adopted the surname Dongye (東野).
東野家族大宗世系 Family Tree of the descendants of the Duke of Zhou in Chinese
One of the Duke of Zhou's 72 generation descendants family tree was examined and commented on by Song Lian
The Zhikou (Chikow) Chiangs such as Chiang Kai-shek
were descended from Chiang Shih-chieh who during the 1600s (17th century) moved there from Fenghua district, whose ancestors in turn came to southeastern China's Zhejiang (Chekiang) province after moving out of Northern China in the 13th century AD. The 12th century BC Duke of Zhou
's (Duke of Chou) third son (管叔鮮
) was the ancestor of the Chiangs.
The oldest held continuous noble title in Chinese history was that held by the descendants of Confucius
, as Duke Yansheng
, which was renamed as the Sacrificial Official to Confucius in 1935 by the Republic of China
. The title is held by Kung Tsui-chang
Han defectors played a massive role in the Qing conquest of China. Han Chinese Generals who defected to the Manchu were often given women from the Imperial Aisin Gioro family in marriage
while the ordinary soldiers who defected were often given non-royal Manchu women as wives. The Manchu leader Nurhaci
married one of his granddaughters to the Ming General Li Yongfang 李永芳
after he surrendered Fushun
to the Manchu in 1618. The offspring of Li received the "Third Class Viscount" () title.
Li Yongfang was the great great great grandfather of Li Shiyao 李侍堯
Upon the surrender of Zheng Keshuang
he received the title of Duke Haicheng from the Qing and his follower Feng Xifan
received the title of Count Zhongcheng.
received the title of Marquis Jinghai from the Qing.
, Zuo Zongtang
and Li Hongzhang
received the title of Marquis from the Qing. Zeng Guofan was a descendant of Zengzi through a cadet branch.
Most titles of nobility were officially abolished when China became a republic in 1912, with the Republic maintaining some titles like Duke Yansheng. They were briefly expanded under Yuan Shikai's empire
and after Zhang Xun
's coup. The last emperor
was allowed to keep his title but was treated as a foreign monarch until the 1924 coup. Manchukuo
also had titles of nobility.
The bestowal of titles was abolished upon the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
The families of the descendants of the Four Sages 四氏
still hold hereditary offices in the Republic of China (Taiwan) such as the Sacrificial Official to Confucius
, "Sacrificial Official to Mencius
", "Sacrificial Official to Zengzi
", and "Sacrificial Official to Yan Hui
The modern purported descendants of Cao Cao
were authenticated with Y chromosome DNA testing, since the remains of Cao Cao's granduncle provided Y chromosome O2*-M268 which matched that of the claimed descendants.
A common misconception among Han Chinese was that Manchu clothing was entirely separate from Hanfu. In fact, Manchu clothes were simply modified Ming Hanfu but the Manchus promoted the misconception that their clothing was of different origin. Manchus originally did not have their own cloth or textiles and the Manchus had to obtain Ming dragon robes
and cloth when they paid tribute to the Ming dynasty or traded with the Ming. These Ming robes were modified, cut and tailored to be narrow at the sleeves and waist with slits in the skirt to make it suitable for falconry, horse riding and archery. The Ming robes were simply modified and changed by Manchus by cutting it at the sleeves and waist to make them narrow around the arms and waist instead of wide and added a new narrow cuff to the sleeves. The new cuff was made out of fur. The robe's jacket waist had a new strip of scrap cloth put on the waist while the waist was made snug by pleating the top of the skirt on the robe. The Manchus added sable fur skirts, cuffs and collars to Ming dragon robes and trimming sable fur all over them before wearing them. Han Chinese court costume was modified by Manchus by adding a ceremonial big collar (da-ling) or shawl collar (pijian-ling). It was mistakenly thought that the hunting ancestors of the Manchus skin clothes became Qing dynasty clothing, due to the contrast between Ming dynasty clothes unshaped cloth's straight length contrasting to the odd-shaped pieces of Qing dynasty long pao and chao fu. Scholars from the west wrongly thought they were purely Manchu. Chao fu robes from Ming dynasty tombs like the Wanli emperor's tomb were excavated and it was found that Qing chao fu was similar and derived from it. They had embroidered or woven dragons on them but are different from long pao dragon robes which are a separate clothing. Flaired skirt with right side fastenings and fitted bodices dragon robes have been found in Beijing, Shanxi, Jiangxi, Jiangsu and Shandong tombs of Ming officials and Ming imperial family members. Integral upper sleeves of Ming chao fu had two pieces of cloth attached on Qing chao fu just like earlier Ming chao fu that had sleeve extensions with another piece of cloth attached to the bodice's integral upper sleeve. Another type of separate Qing clothing, the long pao resembles Yuan dynasty clothing like robes found in the Shandong tomb of Li Youan during the Yuan dynasty. The Qing dynasty chao fu appear in official formal portraits while Ming dynasty Chao fu that they derive from do not, perhaps indicating the Ming officials and imperial family wore chao fu under their formal robes since they appear in Ming tombs but not portraits. Qing long pao were similar unofficial clothing during the Qing dynasty. The Yuan robes had hems flared and around the arms and torso they were tight. Qing unofficial clothes, long pao, derived from Yuan dynasty clothing while Qing official clothing, chao fu, derived from unofficial Ming dynasty clothing, dragon robes. The Ming consciously modeled their clothing after that of earlier Han Chinese dynasties like the Song dynasty, Tang dynasty and Han dynasty. In Japan's Nara city, the Todaiji temple's Shosoin repository has 30 short coats (hanpi) from Tang dynasty China. Ming dragon robes derive from these Tang dynasty hanpi in construction. The hanpi skirt and bodice are made of different cloth with different patterns on them and this is where the Qing chao fu originated. Cross-over closures are present in both the hanpi and Ming garments. The eighth century Shosoin hanpi's variety show it was in vogue at the tine and most likely derived from much more ancient clothing. Han dynasty
and Jin dynasty (266–420)
era tombs in Yingban
, to the Tianshan
mountains south in Xinjiang
have clothes resembling the Qing long pao and Tang dynasty hanpi. The evidence fron excavated tombs indicates that China had a long tradition of garments that led to the Qing chao fu and it was not invented or introduced by Manchus in the Qing dynasty or Mongols in the Yuan dynasty. The Ming robes that the Qing chao fu derived from were just not used in portraits and official paintings but were deemed as high status to be buried in tombs. In some cases the Qing went further than the Ming dynasty in imitating ancient China to display legitimacy with resurrecting ancient Chinese rituals to claim the Mandate of Heaven after studying Chinese classics. Qing sacrificial ritual vessels deliberately resemble ancient Chinese ones even more than Ming vessels. Tungusic
people on the Amur river
adopted Chinese influences in their religion and clothing with Chinese dragons on ceremonial robes, scroll and spiral bird and monster mask designs, Chinese New Year
, using silk and cotton, iron cooking pots, and heated house from China during the Ming dynasty.
The Spencer Museum of Art
has six long pao robes that belonged to Han Chinese nobility of the Qing dynasty
. Ranked officials and Han Chinese nobles had two slits in the skirts while Manchu nobles and the Imperial family had 4 slits in skirts. All first, second and third rank officials as well as Han Chinese and Manchu nobles were entitled to wear 9 dragons by the Qing Illustrated Precedents. Qing sumptuary laws only allowed four clawed dragons for officials, Han Chinese nobles and Manchu nobles while the Qing Imperial family, emperor and princes up to the second degree and their female family members were entitled to wear five clawed dragons. However officials violated these laws all the time and wore 5 clawed dragons and the Spencer Museum's 6 long pao worn by Han Chinese nobles have 5 clawed dragons on them.
Traditional Ming dynasty Hanfu
robes given by the Ming Emperors to the Chinese noble Dukes Yansheng
descended from Confucius
are still preserved in the Confucius Mansion
after over five centuries.
Robes from the Qing emperors are also preserved there. The Jurchens in the Jin dynasty and Mongols in the Yuan dynasty continued to patronize and support the Confucian Duke Yansheng.
List of people granted peerage by Yuan Shikai as self-proclaimed emperor (1915–1916)
After the fall of the Qing dynasty and its "Last Emperor" Puyi
in the Xinhai Revolution
of 1911, Chinese President Yuan Shikai
attempted to resurrect the imperial system, proclaiming himself emperor in his brief Empire of China (1915–1916)
which ended with his death 83 days after its inauguration. During this period, Yuan Shikai
as sovereign declared the ennoblement of several people, in this case not so much his family and clan as allies and those he sought as supporters for the new Empire. Some declined the honors.
Prince of the First Rank Wuyi (武義親王 ''Wǔyì qīn wáng'')
200px| Feng Yuxiang
, made Baron of the Third Rank by [[Yuan Shikai who proclaimed himself Emperor in 1915, just five years after [[Yuan Shikai had imprisoned him as a rebel and stripped his military rank; sent to fight for [[Yuan Shikai with his new noble title and a new military rank, [[Feng Yuxiang communicated with the enemy and was stripped of military rank a second time.
*Duke Yansheng Kong Lingyi
Dukes of the First Rank (一等公 ''Yī děng gōng'')
Marquesses of the First Rank (一等侯 ''Yī děng hóu'')
Counts of the First Rank (一等伯 ''Yī děng bó'')
Viscounts of the First Rank (一等子 ''Yī děng zǐ'')
Barons of the First Rank (一等男 ''Yī děng nán'')
Baron of the Third Rank (三等男 ''Sān děng nán'')
Modern Chinese styles for foreign monarchs
Traditional Chinese political theory held that "All lands under Heaven belong to the emperor, all people under Heaven belong, are subjects of the emperor." (普天之下，莫非王土;率土之濱,莫非王臣). Thus, a foreign monarch would also be referred to as ''Wang'', implying that one was inferior in rank and thus subject to the Chinese Emperor.
In modern Chinese, a king is referred to as a ''Wang'', while an emperor would be referred to as ''Huangdi''. The king in those times were referred to as the mandate of heaven. Therefore, Victoria of the United Kingdom
was styled ''Nü-Wang'' (Queen) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
, and ''Nü-Huang'' (Empress) of India.
Other historical Chinese titles
Other titles might be tailored down to a single individual being officially honored for a particular achievement, with or without executive portfolio following the granting of the title, and might truly be titles outside the executive government structure, even when words used in their phrasing would otherwise imply executive office, e.g.,
''Protector General'' (都護; Duhu) – for example, Ban Chao
On the other hand, victorious generals were often granted official praise-names or names implying particular old and new duties or some combination of these, which would be quasi-executive or fully executive titles honored as much like peerage as like actual military rank, as in the case of Liu Bei
promoting Guan Yu
to a rank phrased as General Who Exterminates Bandits (蕩寇將軍) during the active course of Guan Yu's military career.
In Dutch East Indies
(modern-day Indonesia), the Dutch authorities appointed Chinese officers to the colonial administration to oversee the governance of the colony's Chinese subjects.
These officials bore the ranks of ''Majoor'', ''Kapitein'' or ''Luitenant der Chinezen''
, and had extensive political and legal jurisdiction over the local Chinese community.
Their descendants bore the hereditary title of ''Sia
'', and constituted the ''Cabang Atas
'' or the Chinese gentry of colonial Indonesia.
*Imperial, royal and noble ranks
*Royal and noble ranks of the Qing dynasty
* Social structure of China
* ''This article incorporates text from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
* Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. ''The Aristocratic Families in Early Imperial China: A Case Study of the Po-Ling Ts'ui Family'' (Cambridge UP, 1978).
* Johnson, David. ''The Medieval Chinese Oligarchy'' (Westview Press, 1977).
* Tackett, Nicolas. "Violence and the 1 Percent: The Fall of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy in Comparison to the Fall of the French Nobility." ''American Historical Review'' 124.3 (2019): 933-937.
* Tackett, Nicolas. ''The Origins of the Chinese Nation: Song China and the Forging of an East Asian World Order'' (Cambridge UP, 2017)
* Tackett, Nicolas. ''The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy'' (Harvard University Asia Center, 2016online review
** Tackett, Nicolas Olivier, "The Transformation Of Medieval Chinese Elites (850–1000 C.E.)" (PhD dissertation, Columbia University, 2006online
Category:Social history of China