The Formation of Clan Lineages in mid-Ming Period Zhangzhou, Fujian: The Case of the Ding Clan of Baishi Village, Longxi County
58 , 2016-12
This article focuses on the specific case of the Ding Clan of Baishi Village, Longxi 龍渓 County, Zhangzhou Prefecture, Fujian Province, in an attempt to understand the meaning of clan histories contained in lineage genealogies during the mid-Ming Period. The author begins her investigation with a discussion of the ancestral shrine built by the Dings at Wenfengmuzhong 文峰畝中 during the 7th year of the mid-Ming Period’s Zhengde Era (1512), which played an important function in maintaining clan solidarity, symbolized by the memorialized merger between the Xiangxian Sublineage (Xiangxianfang 郷賢房) of the descendants of Ding Zhiji 丁知幾, who during the Southern Song Period was awarded in his old age with the honorary title of tezouming jinshi 特奏名進士, and the Gongyuan Sublineage (Gongyuanfang 貢元房) of the descendants of Zhiji’s older brother Ding Zhiwei 丁知微, who placed first in his local civil service examination (gongyuan 貢元). Next, the author turns to the meaning of the above merger between the two Ding sublineages. For Xiangxianfang, their social status in local society was already guaranteed by a stone inscription written by Wang Zhongqian 王仲謙, the chief executive of Zhongzhou Prefecture, lauding the accomplishments of Ding Zhiji and Xinglici 興利祠, a shrine commemorating Zhiji’s contributions to society. On the other hand, Gongyuanfang had lagged behind Xiangxianfang and were embarking on upward social mobility only from the mid-Ming Period on. One way for the latter to guarantee higher social position was their enthusiastic promotion of a merger with Xiangxianfang, by reminding them that their ancestor was the older brother of theirs and conflating Ding Zhiwei’s achievements with those of Ding Zhiji in the genealogical record. Consequently, the new Ding Clan would claim origins based on the authority of the two brothers. Finally the author examines narrative regarding the economic base of the Ding Clan. The genealogical record tells us that the wealth earned by the Ding Clan in its commercial activities was reinvested both in the Clan as a whole and in local society. Through such stories of largess, the Clan defended the legitimacy of the privileges it enjoyed in local society from an economic perspective. Here the founding ancestor Jiuchenshilang 九承事郎 and ancestors dating back to the Tang and Song Periods were brought up to add a long historical tradition to the economic activities of the Ding Clan. While praising its founding ancestor as a participant in the pacification and colonization of Zhangzhou by Tang Dynasty General Cheng Yuanguang 陳元光, the narrative also established Jiuchenshilang as already residing in the region prior to the entry of General Cheng, thus exploiting the authority of Cheng to claim superiority over all the other clans of Zhangzhou.