CHAPTER XXXIII. NAMES

One of the difficulties of Chinese ancient history is the unravelling of proper names; but, as with other difficulties, this one is owing rather to the novelty and strangeness of the subject, to the unfamiliarity of scene and of atmosphere, than to any inherent want of clearness in the matter itself. In reading Scottish history, no one is much disconcerted to find a man called upon the same page (as an imaginary instance), Old John, John McQuhirt, the Master of Weel, the McQuhirt, the Laird o' Airton, the Laird of the Isle, and the Earl of Airton and Weel; there are many such instances to be found in Boswell's account of the Johnsonian trip to the Hebrides; but the puzzled Englishman has at least his own language and a fairly familiar ground to deal with. When, however, we come to unpronounceable Chinese names of strange individuals, moving about amid hitherto unheard-of surroundings 2500 years ago, with a suspicion of uncertainty added about the genuineness and good faith of the whole story, things are apt to seem hopelessly involved, even where the best of good-will to understand is present. Thus Confucius may be called K'ung-tsz, K'ung Fu-tsz, or Chung-ni, besides other personal applications under the influence oftabu rules, Tsz-ch'an may be spoken of as Kung-sun K'iao, or (if he himself speaks) simply as K'iao. And so on with nearly all prominent individuals. In those times the family names, or "surnames" as we say in English, were not used with the regularity that prevails in China now, when every one of standing has a fixed family name, such as Li or Yiian, followed by an official personal name, like Hung-chang or Shi- k'ai. In old times the clan or tribe counted first; for instance the imperial clan of Ki included princes of several vassal states. But, after five generations, it was expected that any given family unit should detach itself. Thus, in 710 B.C., Confucius' ancestor, son of the composer of odes mentioned on page 175, took, or was given by the ruler of his native state, Sung, the detached family name of K'ung-fu (Father K'ung), "Father" being the social application, and K'ung the surname, which thence became the family name of a new branch. The old original clan- names were little used by any one in a current sense, just as the English family name of Guelph is kept in the dim background so far as current use goes. Nor were the personal names, even of Chinese emperors and kings, so grave and decorous in style as they have always been in later times. For instance, "Black Buttocks," "Black Arm," "Double Ears"; - such names (decidedly Turkish in style) are not only used of Tsin princes with an admixture of Tartar blood nearly always coursing more or less in their veins, but also in such states as the orthodox Lu. The name "Black Arm," for instance, is used both by Lu and by Ts'u princes; also by a Ts'u private individual; whilst an orthodox Duke of Sung bears the purely Turkish name of T'ouman, which (and exactly the same pictograph characters, too) was also the name of the first historical Hiung-nu (later Turkish) Khan several centuries later. The name Luh-fu or "Emoluments Father," belonging to the son of the last Emperor of the Shang dynasty in 1123 B.C., was also the personal name of one of the rulers of Ts'i many centuries later. In the same way we find identical personal names in CH'EN and Lu, and also in Ts'u and Lu princes. Eunuchs were not considered to possess family names, or even official personal names. If there had been then, as now, a celibate priestly caste, no doubt then, as now, priests would also have been relieved of their family name rights.