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Le père comme nom et comme fonction

“Fathers” Galore

Comments on a Suffix in Ancient Chinese Names
Foison de pères. Commentaires sur un suffixe nominal en Chine ancienne
眾父——對一個古代中國名詞后綴的幾點看法
Robert H. Gassmann
p. 31-50

Résumés

Dans nombre de textes de la Chine ancienne, nous rencontrons des noms assortis du suffixe – comme dans Féng Chǒu-fǔ, Guǎn Zhōu-fǔ, etc. (exemples tirés du Zuǒ Zhuàn). Dans certains cas, ce suffixe est écrit avec une variante, i.e. Zhēng-kǎo-fǔ (Zuǒ Zhuàn, deuxième forme dans Kǒng Zǐ Jiā Yǔ). Il est probable qu’il se soit agi là d’une convention de nomination courante sous les Printemps et Automnes et les Royaumes combattants pour désigner des personnages de haut rang. Au-delà des informations lexicographiques qui nous disent que est un « suffixe honorifique attaché au nom de personnages de rang élevé » (cf. p. ex. Axel Schuessler, ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese : 243), nous sommes en fait assez peu renseignés sur les circonstances dans lesquelles un tel suffixe était accordé à une personne. Le caractère choisi comme principale forme de suffixation, à savoir le caractère usité pour signifier « le père », fait une référence évidente à cet important rôle, mais sans que les fondements d’une telle connexion aient été jusqu’à présent tirés au clair. Cet article explore les différentes données d’ordre historique, social et généalogique des personnes aux noms ainsi suffixés, et s’attache à identifier les paramètres en fonction desquels un tel honneur était échu à leurs porteurs. On peut ainsi démontrer que ce suffixe marque une fonction, c’est-à-dire qu’il ne s’agissait pas seulement d’un terme honorifique, mais en réalité d’un titre. On ne tentera pas ici une description du contenu précis de cette fonction, laquelle nécessiterait que soient menées plus avant des recherches biographiques sur les personnages ainsi désignés.

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Texte intégral

I gratefully acknowledge the insightful and helpful comments made by William G. Boltz, Kai Vogelsang and Nicolas Zufferey on a pre-publication version of this paper.

1. Father and “Father(s)”

  • 1 For Chinese characters of transcribed expressions, name, titles, and quotations from the sources, r (...)

1The role of father in Chinese society is one of paramount importance, being the commanding position in the fundamental dyadic relationship of father and son. This position ranks supreme – even in rather awkward and discrediting situations as the one described in the following passage from the Hánfēiz:1

  • 2 HFZ 49.09. Cf. Watson (1967): 105-106.

E 1 Among those of [the principality of] Chŭ, there was “Upright Gōng”. When his father stole a sheep, he reported him to the authorities. The magistrate said, “Put him to death!” He thought the man was being honest towards the ruler but dishonest towards the father. So he revenged this and sentenced him to death. From this is to be seen that the honest subject of a ruler is the beastly son of a father.2

2The enormous prestige and great structural importance of the role of the father in ancient Chinese society also show up in the doubling of the character fù as the written form for, on the one hand, the word ‘father’ (noun), on the other hand, the word ‘to behave as a father’ (verb):

  • 3 Lùn Yŭ 12.11. Cf. Legge (1960a): 256.

E 2 The ruler should behave like a ruler, and the ministerial like a ministerial; the father should behave like a father, and the son like a son.3

  • 4 By following the traditional conventions for transcribing names I hope to give consideration to the (...)

3In many essential situations and for many important social events, fathers were clearly the ultimate point of reference. When Duke Dìng of Téng died, his son and successor, Duke Wén, sent Rán Yŏu to consult Mencius about how to properly discharge the funeral duties. Mencius informed him of the various ceremonies to be observed, and Rán Yŏu returned to Téng to report to the new ruler, who determined that three years’ mourning should be observed.4 The received text then tells us how certain groups of mourners reacted to these measures:

  • 5 Mèng 3A.2. Translation (with adaptations) according to Legge (1960b): 237.

E 3 His aged relatives, and the body of the officers, did not wish that it should be so, and said, “The former Patriarchs of Lŭ, that kingdom which we honour, have, none of them, observed this practice, neither have any of our own former Patriarchs observed it. For you to act contrary to their example is not proper. […]”5

  • 6 For the reading instead of , cf. below and note 8.

4The expression translated by Legge as “aged relatives” has the following form in the original: “father(s) and elder brother(s)” (6 xiōng). Given the context, this expression must strike the non-Chinese reader as quite unusual: The father of Duke Wén had just died, so the first term could definitely not refer to him. Who, then, does it refer to? Furthermore, given the generally observed rules of primogeniture, it is to be assumed that Duke Wén became his successor because he was the eldest son, so why should elder brothers be mentioned?

5In the text quoted above, the two elements of the composite term fŭ xiōng seem to belong to the realm of kinship. This could be based on the following observation: the larger expression “aged relatives (fŭ xiōng) and the body of officers (băi guān)” appears later on in the text in the modified form “all the officers (băi guān) and his relatives (zú rén)”. The latter part contains the word meaning “branch of a lineage”. So, the expression fù xiōng in this case obviously refers to members of the kinship group. As it cannot refer to the father and elder brothers of the new ruler, i.e., in genealogical terms, of ego, it therefore suggests an interpretation within a generational framework: the term “father(s)” would be referring to relatives belonging to the same generation as the biological father; the term “brother(s)” would be referring to relatives belonging to the same generation as ego. This normally implies that the persons thus designated would be older than ego (but not necessarily all “aged”). The following graph serves to illustrate this kind of constellation within a lineage:

Illustration 1: A multi-generational lineage (zōng) with three branches (zú)

X-gōng

Duke X (grandfather)

2

3

Y-gōng

Duke Y (father)

son of X; brother

son of X; brother

of Y; uncle of Z

of Y; uncle of Z

Z-gōng

Duke Z (son)

son/cousin

son/cousin

1

  • 7 I therefore suggest that the character concerned should be read when the word refers to the biol (...)
  • 8 The two terms could possibly also include maternal uncles or maternal cousins, as certain commentar (...)

6This lets us assume that the paternal uncles of Z/ego belonging to the generation of his father might have been collectively referred to as “fathers”.7 The paternal cousins of Z/ego, correspondingly, were collectively referred to as “elder brothers” if they were born before him, and as “younger brothers” if born after him.8

7Fortunately, the sources furnish us with instances which bear out the above assumptions. In the Zuŏ Zhuàn we find the following text accompanying an entry in the Chūn Qiū:

  • 9 Yīn 8.10 ; Legge (1960c) : 26b, Par. 10.

E 4 Wú-hài had died. Yŭ-fŭ requested [for him from the Duke] a canonical epithetas well as a name for a branch lineage.9

  • 10 On the occasion of the death of a further brother of Yŭ-fŭ in Yīn 5.8, the Yĭn-Patriarch refers to (...)

8The name Wú-hài refers to the grandson of gōng-zĭ Zhăn (Ducal Son Zhăn), who was a son of Duke Xiào of Lŭ (Lŭ Xiào-gōng). The elder brother of Zhăn, Duke Huì, was the father of the current ruler, Duke Yŭn. Yŭ-fŭ was another son of Duke Xiào, i.e. younger brother of Duke Huì, and therefore a paternal uncle of Duke Yĭn.10

Illustration 2: Excerpt from the lineage (zōng) of the rulers of Lŭ

Xiào-gōng

(grandfather)

Huì-gōng

(father)

gōng-zĭ Huī (= Yŭ-fŭ);

gōng-zĭ Zhăn;

uncle of Yĭn-gōng

uncle of Yĭn-gōng

Yĭn-gōng

(ego)

gōng-sūn; son/cousin

gōng-sūn; son/cousin

Wú hài

  • 11 Cf. the corresponding chapters in Gassmann (2006a) and Gassmann (2006b): 791-806.

9This table shows that the bearer of this suffixed name form belonged to the generation preceding that of the current chief of a lineage (zōng), i.e. to the generation of Duke Huì, the father of Duke Yĭn. As the sources mentioned above only transmit a suffixed name form for Yŭ-fŭ and not for any of his brothers, the table also raises the question whether all the members of the elder generation, i.e. all (paternal) uncles, were entitled to this form or not. The situation in the genealogical context of the so-called sān Huán, i.e. the three branch lineages issuing from the Huán-Patriarch of Lŭ, seems to suggest an answer:11

Illustration 3: Descendants of the Huán-Patriarch of Lŭ

Huán-gōng

r. 711-694

Zhuāng-gōng

gōng-zĭ Qìng-fŭ

gōng-zĭ shū-Yá

gōng-zĭ jì-Yŏu

Mĭn-gōng

  • 12 Of this ruler we have the precise date of birth: CQ Huán 6.5, i.e. on October 5, ­705. He dies on A (...)
  • 13 “Chéng-jì-Yŏu (the Chéng-junior Yŏu) […] received Bì and became the Supreme Qīng.” Cf. Zhao 32.6; 7 (...)
  • 14 Zhuāng 32.3 (­661); Legge (1960c): 120b-121b, Par. 3.

10The youngest of the three brothers (not counting Duke Zhuāng12), the gōng-zĭ jì-Yŏu (Ducal Son junior-Yŏu), was probably the most famous of them, as he occupied the position of chief minister during the reign periods of his brother and of two of his sons, Duke Mĭn and Duke Xī.13As a member of the generation of the father of Duke Mĭn and Duke Xī, we would expect there to be some trace of this in a corresponding name form with the suffix . The search is negative; there is no evidence for the form Yŏu-fŭ. The same applies to his elder brother, the gōng-zĭ shū-Yá (Ducal Son minor-Yá), who due to his seniority would presumably have had even more right to the honorific. This brother died before jì-Yŏu, who had forced him to commit suicide after trying to disrupt the arrangements for succession of Duke Zhuāng.14 This suggests the following narrowing of our interpretation: the honorific, in this case, is restricted to the eldest living brother or paternal uncle. Younger uncles may be granted this suffix after the death of an elder brother thus named.

  • 15 Yīn 5.8 ; Legge (1960c) : 20b, Par. 7.
  • 16 This name form appears for the first time in the Zuŏ Zhuàn appended to Yīn 4.5; Legge (1960c): 16b, (...)

11This seems to be the case with the gōng-zĭ Qìng-fŭ (Ducal Son Qìng-fŭ), who only for a very short time (presumably during his exile) was not mentioned with the honorific but with the form Gŏng-zhòng (Zhuāng 32–Mīn 2; Wén 15). His youngest brother, the gōng-zĭ jì-Yŏu, died in ­643 (Xī 16.2), presumably between fifty and sixty years of age. We do not know for certain, but it seems quite a safe guess to assume that Qìng-fŭ must have died after him, thus preventing that the honorific was transferred to his youngest brother. Clear traces of such a transferal of the honorific can be made out in the case of Yŭ-fŭ, the younger brother of Duke Huì mentioned above: On the occasion of the death of the eldest brother of Yŭ-fŭ, i.e. Zāng Xī-bó (the Xī-major from the lineage of the Zāng; note the ‘major’ denoting a first born), DukeYĭn refers to this person as shū-fŭ ‘uncle-’.15 As long as this brother was alive, he apparently was the legitimate bearer of the honorific; it was transferred to Yŭ-fŭ, evidently as the next in line, after his death.16 This interpretation would also explain the, at first sight unnecessary, existence of two forms designating a paternal uncle: the simple form shū ‘uncle’ and the suffixed form shū fŭ ‘uncle-’. The first form refers to an uncle without the honorific (because an elder brother is still alive), the second to the eldest surviving uncle and bearer of the honorific.

  • 17 This fact flatly contradicts the somewhat hasty explanation I favoured earlier, namely that age and (...)

12Interestingly, the gōng-zĭ Qìng-fŭ is bearer of the honorific not only during the life-time of his ruling brother, the Zhuāng-Patriarch, but also already at a very early date in his reign (Zhuāng 2.2; ­691), i.e. shortly after his brother assumed the position of ruler in ­692.17 This seems to indicate that the honorific is due, or granted to a person, as soon as there are members of the next generation, i.e. as soon as the ruling Duke has a son and potential successor. This was the case: the son zĭ-Bān, presumably born somewhere round ­690 and therefore about thirty years of age, was installed as successor, but was killed before he gained the position of a ruler with ancestral status, i.e. his own first calendrical year of reign. It is therefore not unreasonable to believe that the closeness of the dates is simply coincidental. That the gōng-zĭ Qìng-fŭ is registered as bearer of the honorific in ­691, and that zĭ-Bān must have been born in the vicinity of the year ­690 therefore allows for the following hypothesis: with the birth of a son, the eldest living brother of the father, i.e. a paternal uncle, is designated with the honorific in relation to the potential successor.

  • 18 This condition, i.e. being the eldest living brother of the head of a lineage (here of the ruler of (...)
  • 19 It is not unusual for a language to have related words for this function, e.g. Italian (padre - ‘fa (...)

13Let us sum up the observations and their tentative interpretation: the honorific seems to have been granted to the eldest living brother of the head of a lineage (zōng).18 The first grant could have been on the occasion of the birth of a successor for the position of head. The honorific was transferred to the next born living uncle upon death of the first supplementary “father”, thus ensuring that this function was always fulfilled. The act of naming and the triggering occasion of a birth brings to mind a ritual or custom which is well known in our cultural sphere: that of a godfather.19 The function of the godfather was clearly to keep his nephew on the path of good conduct, to remonstrate with him when he departed from it, and to be one of his prime counsels. Commenting on the death of his (first) godfather, Zāng Xī-bó, Duke Yĭn mentions that despite his uncle-godfather’s dissatisfaction with his conduct of affairs he would in no way be tempted to forget him.

14Based on these finding, we suggest to emend the translation of E 3 above in the following way:

E 3 His godfather, elder cousins, and the body of the officers, did not wish that it should be so, and said, […].

2. More “(God)father(s)”

15So far, the cases discussed covered situations within a kinship group, i.e. within one and the same lineage. What about the situation in non-related lineages? The impression that the terms / (“fathers”) and xiōng (“elder brothers”) must, in certain contexts, have been implicitly collective correlates with the existence of the explicitly collective term zhū fŭ (“all the fathers”) and zhū xiōng (“all the elder brothers/cousins”). In a conversation between Tāng and his minister, Yī Yĭn, the latter says:

  • 20 Shuō Yuăn (1992): 2.2.

E 5 Ministerials whom the ruler does not address with the personal name are of four [types]: the (god)fathers (zhū fŭ) he uses as ministerials but does not address with the personal name; the elder brothers/cousins (zhū xiōng) he uses as ministerials but does not address with the personal name; the ministerials of predecessor (ancestral) kings he uses as ministerials but does not address with the personal name; officers whom he is fully obliged to he uses as ministerials but does not address with the personal name.20

  • 21 Cf. the remarks at note 27.

16These collective terms, especially zhū fŭ, cause one to wonder whether all the threads of the story surrounding the suffix have already been unravelled. It seems natural to assume that one and the same person could only have one godfather at a time; a collective term would then only be plausible if deceased godfathers were counted. But the above excerpt E 5 is unmistakeably talking about more than one godfather of the ruler. Within the kinship group, we seem to have already encountered the working of a mechanism which transfers the honorific from a deceased godfather to the next paternal uncle, one at a time. This clearly implies that the term zhū fŭ must include further “godfathers”, i.e. “godfathers” originating from other, unrelated kinship groups. The “original” godfather in the stricter sense of the word could, of course, be a member of this group.21

17Do we have evidence for such “non-kindred godfathers”? Let us look at the following revealing excerpt from the Hánfēizĭ:

  • 22 This is my translation of , the term of address for ministerials.
  • 23 Hánfēizĭ 33.12. Liao II:69-70. The name form ‘midborn godfather’ (zhòng fŭ) is met with quite frequ (...)

E 6 Duke Huán of Qí intended to install Guăn zhòng (the midborn of the lineage of the Guăn) [as godfather]. He called together the group of ministerials and said: “I, the solitary Rén, intend to install Guăn zhòng as ‘midborn godfather’ (zhòng fŭ). Whoever finds this commendable, turns left after entering the door; whoever finds this not commendable, turns right after entering the door.” Dōng-guō Yá placed himself in the middle of the door. The Duke said: “I, the solitary Rén, am installing Guăn zhòng as ‘midborn godfather’, and I ordered those in favour to the left, those against it to the right. Now, Squire,22 why are you standing in the middle of the door?” Yá said: “Is Guăn zhòng, because of his knowledge, going to be made [someone] capable of making plans for the Empire?” The Duke said: “[He will] be capable.” [Yá said:] “Is he, by [this] decision, going to be made [someone] daring to undertake great operations?” The Duke said: “[He will] dare to.” Yá said: “If he knows how to make plans for the Empire and is [also] enabled [to do so], and if he takes decisions and [also] dares to undertake great operations, then you, Sire, are subsequently exclusively charging him with the [power] grips of the principality. If someone with the capabilities of a Guăn zhòng rides in the position of the Duke and thereby creates order in the principality of Qí, will you succeed in making the danger [for you] disappear?” The Duke said: “I think [this analysis] excellent.” He then commanded Xí Péng to look after the inner [affairs], and Guăn zhòng to look after the foreign affairs. With [these] chancellors he formed a triad.23

  • 24 In this case it can also not be verified whether the appointment took place on the occasion of the (...)

18This excerpt, on the one hand, shows the range of power that could accompany the function of a godfather. On the other, it illustrates that men from a different kinship group could be appointed godfathers.24 Guăn Yí-wú, better known by the name form Guăn zhòng (midborn of the lineage of the Guăn), was the outstanding ministerial of Duke Huán of Qí (r. ­684 to ­642), who, with his expert help, managed to become a hegemonial leader. The lineage of Duke Huán of Qí belonged to the Jiāng clan, the lineage of the Guăn to the royal Jī clan. Another example: Xún Lín-fŭ was an important ministerial of five of the Dukes of Jìn (cf. Illustration 5 below). The lineage of the Dukes of Jìn belonged to the royal Jī clan, the lineage of the Xún to the Zĭ clan. These two cases are clear evidence that personages from non-related kinship groups were eligible for the function of godfather.

  • 25 Some of them are, of course, also mentioned in other sources, but the passages quoted are difficult (...)

19Having ascertained that the suffix is attached to the name of personages functioning as godfathers, and referring back to the lexicographical description of the meaning of (i.e. “honorific suffix attached to names of high-ranking men”), it seems surprising that not all high-ranking men happened to be bearers of this suffix. In fact, compared to the really large number of men in high ranks we know of in various principalities, for only comparatively few of them this name form is actually transmitted. In the following listings of such men from the principalities of Lŭ and Jìn distilled from the Chūn Qiū and the Zuŏ Zhuàn quite an unexpected pattern appears.25 The listings show the periods when a person was mentioned with the suffixed name form (capital letters refer to the person; numbers from left to right refer to the years in the reign periods of the Dukes of Lŭ; e.g. Zhòng-fŭ [A] was so named in the 1st year of the reign period of Duke Yĭn [1]; the gōng-sūn Guī-fŭ [G] was so named between the years 10 and 18 of Duke Xuān [7]):

Illustration 4: Godfathers in the Principality of Lŭ

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

A

1

B

2

C

4-11

D

9

E

2

2

F

6

10

G

10-18

(F)

2

5

H

29

I

22–26

J

7-12

K

11

L

16

Rulers of Lŭ : 1 : Yĭn ; 2 : Huán ; 3 : Zhuāng ; 4 : Mĭn ; 5 : Xī ; 6 : Wén ; 7 : Xuān ; 8 : Chéng ; 9 : Xiāng ; 10 : Zhāo ; 11 : Dìng ; 12 : Āi.
Godfathers of Lŭ : A : Zhòng-fŭ ; B : Bì Qín-fŭ ; C : Yŭ-fŭ ; D : Shī-fŭ ; E : gōng-zĭ Qìng-fŭ ; F : Jì-sūn Hàng-fŭ ; G : gōng-sūn Guī-fŭ ; H : Céng Gŭ-fŭ ; I : Mĭn Mă-fŭ ; J : Gōng-liăn Chù-fŭ ; K : Guăn Zhōu-fŭ ; L : Kŏng Ní-fŭ ( = Confucius).

20There are two further men in Lŭ who have the suffix in a name form: Wáng-fŭ from the lineage of the Zhăn, and Jĭn-fŭ from the lineage of the Qín. In the source text, these are identified as family ministerials (jiā chén). Such ministerials were attached to families one level lower than the Duke, i.e. to families with the rank of a qīng. This implies that the system of godfathers existed on at least two levels: on the level of the counsels of the rules of a principality, and on the level of counsels of highest-ranking ministerials, i.e the qīng.

  • 26 Cf. the remarks concerning the collective terms mentioned in E 5 above.

21At first sight, the illustration seems to suggest that there was only one bearer of the suffixed name at a time. However, it is not sufficiently clear whether this listing is to be interpreted in the sense that there could be no more than one bearer of the suffix at a time, i.e. only consecutive bearers, or whether there could be more than one “active” bearer at a time.26 The uncertainty rests, on the one hand, on Qín-fŭ from the lineage of the Bì [B]: we do not know how long he lived (he is only mentioned in one single entry), nor whether he was bearer of the suffix for a time extending into that of Yŭ-fŭ [C]. Furthermore, the interpretation of his status is uncertain for he could have been a family ministerial, and this would really exclude him from the listing. On the other hand, we observe that within the same year (Xuān 10), following a lengthy period (Wén 6 to Xuān 10) in which only Jì-sūn Hàng-fŭ is recorded as bearer of the suffix, the gōng-sūn Guī-fŭ is mentioned twice, in Xuān 10.11 and 15 CC, followed by a single reference to Hàng-fŭ in Xuān 10.17 CC, immediately followed again by a reference to Guī-fŭ in Xuān 10.18 CC. From then on until Xuān 18, Guī-fŭ exclusively dominates the entries, whereas Hàng-fŭ reappears in Chéng 2 to remain until Xiāng 5. The end of records mentioning Guī-fŭ coincides with the end of the reign of the Xuān-Patriarch.

22These observations lead to the following revisions of our current tentative explanation given in the summary above: (a) It seems that members of the same kinship group were preferred as godfathers. In the case discussed above, it was a paternal uncle (gōng-zĭ Qìng-fŭ), i.e. somebody from the lineage of the shared father. In the two cases just discussed (Jì-sūn Hàng-fŭ and the gōng-sūn Guī-fŭ), we would judge these persons as already quite distantly related, the degree of relatedness going beyond the generation of shared grandfathers. (b) Each Patriarch could grant the suffix to a personage of his choice. It seems that this did not imply that a godfather of an earlier Patriarch lost his suffix, but the records show that visibility was significantly reduced. So there could be more than one godfather, i.e. more than one bearer of the suffix at a time, but usually only one of them was “active”, i.e. actually serving in this function. (c) Excerpt E 5 above with the collective expression zhū fŭ, “the (god)fathers” confirms that there must have been periods with more than one bearer at a time, and in addition suggests that at times there could have been so many as to justify using the collective zhū “all the N”. As far as the sources reveal, the group must have been quite small, with possibly not more than two or three members at a time. (d) The relative scarcity of the name form clearly implies that the suffix marked a function, i.e. that it was not merely honorific but in actual fact a title. Both title and function seem to have been granted once, and for life, to high-ranking ministerials, as there are no instances showing that bearers of this title reverted to an earlier name form without the suffix.

  • 27 I have also checked the situation in Qí which due to the information available is less impressive a (...)

23Was this situation restricted to the principality of Lŭ, or was this title also granted in other principalities and under similar conditions? That this was the case can be shown with the following listing for the bearers of this title in the principality of Jìn:27

Illustration 5: Godfathers in the Principality of Jìn

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

A

6

B

2

C

11

D

27-28

E

32

6

(D)

7

F

9

(D)

12-17

G

1

(D)

1-15

H

3

I

4-21

J

11

K

15

L

13-14

M

2-20

A : Jiā-fŭ ; B : Pān-fŭ ; C : Pī Zhèng-fŭ ; D : Xún Lín-fŭ ; E : Yáng Chù-fŭ ; F : Jī Zhèng-fŭ ; G : Xū Jiă-fŭ ; H : Hé Zŭ-fŭ ; I : Jiā-fŭ, the baron of Wú-zhōng ; J : Hú-fŭ ; K : Jí-fŭ ; L : Liáng Yīng-fŭ ; M : Zhì-fŭ (from the lineage of the Zhào). Possible candidates as family ministerials (jiā chén) with the name-element : F, and K.

24The illustration confirms the same overall pattern: during the whole Chūn Qiū period there were comparatively few bearers of the title, and the records, in contrast to the solitary example in the principality of Lŭ, display absolutely no instances of two “active” bearers at the same time. The sequence D-E-D-F-D-G-D-H with the important ministerial Lín-fŭ from the lineage of the Xún [D] making several appearances over a long period of time interrupted by three other godfathers not only shows that several bearers could co-exist but also that the title, once granted, was not revoked, thus strengthening the explanation for the group designation zhū fŭ. It also illustrates that rulers not always accepted or were happy with the godfathers appointed by their predecessors, for changes in the activities of bearers are in many cases situated in the critical periods of succession from one ruler to the next. This can be demonstrated in the period of the above-mentioned sequence (D-E-D-F-D-G-D-H):

Illustration 6: Changes of godfathers related to periods of succession in the Principality of Jìn (excerpt)

Patriarchs

of Jìn

5 : Xī

6 : Wén

7 : Xuān

8 : Chéng

9 : Xiāng

Wén

­632

D

27

Wén

­631

D

28

Wén

­627

E

32

Xiāng

­625

E

1

Xiāng

­620

E

6

Líng

­619

D

7

Líng

­617

F

9

Líng

­614

D

12

Líng

­609

D

17

Líng

­607

G

1

Chéng

­605

D

3

Chéng

­599

D

9

Jĭng

­598

D

10

Jĭng

­580

D

10

­579

D

11

­572

D

18

Dào

­571

D

1

Dào

­569

H

3

Reign periods of the Dukes of Jìn: Wén: Xī 25 (­634)-Xī 33 (­626); Xiāng: Wén 1 (­625)-Wén 6 (­620); Líng: Wén 7 (­619)-Xuān 2 (­606); Chéng: Xuān 3 (­605)-Xuān 9 (­599); Jĭng: Xuān 10 (­598)-Chéng 10 (­580); Lì: Chéng 11 (­579)-Chéng 18 (­572); Dào: Xiāng 1 (­571)-Xiāng 15 (­557).

  • 28 Cf. at note 25.
  • 29 Such texts could thus justifiably be termed as “historical” and be regarded as basically reliable s (...)

25Apart from confirming the observations (b) to (d) above, this illustration with the demonstrated pattern of change calls for the correction of a suggestion made earlier in this paper, i.e. that the act of naming could have been basically associated with the birth of a successor of the ruling Duke (i.e. the “classical” role of a godfather).28 On the contrary, the granting of the title to an elder statesman appears to have been for the benefit of the acting ruler, especially of new and maybe young and inexperienced rulers who had, in general, just followed in the position of their fathers. An interesting case, in this respect, is to be registered for the principality of Lŭ: On the occasion of the death of Confucius, the Zuŏ Zhuàn in Āi 16.4 quotes Duke Āi as referring to him in his sorrow as Ní-fŭ, Ní-godfather. This suggests that Confucius was presumably his elderly counsel and therefore casts new light on his social standing as well as on the several conversations about problems of government recorded between the two: not only in the Lùn Yŭ are there passages (2.19; 3.21; 6.03; 12.09; 14.21), but several other received texts transmit dialogues and even whole chapters, e.g. the Lĭ Jì (Chapter 27, Āi-gōng wèn), the Kŏng zĭ Jiā Yŭ (Chapter 17, Āi-gōng wèn zhèng).29

3. Conclusion

26The role of father in Chinese society is not only one of paramount importance, but also a model for a number of different social functions. In this paper, such traces of a high structural affinity have been found in the sources examined by following a prominent name form containing the suffixal element ‘godfather’. This name form designates a specialized function, i.e. that of the elder or more experienced statesman, of the personally appointed counsel acting, as it seems, in lieu of a father (and therefore here termed ‘godfather’). This function existed on two levels of society, i.e. on the level of the rulers (Kings and Patriarchs), and on the level just below them, the level of high-ranking ministerials (qīng). Although there could be more than one godfather at a time, only one godfather was active.

  • 30 The (extended) binomial constructions fŭ xiōng and zhū fŭ zhū xiōng are a clear indication that the (...)
  • 31 I owe, and gratefully acknowledge, the lead to the thoughts in this paragraph to an anonymous revie (...)

27The modeling of social functions with a high degree of intimacy and influence on patterns of (male) kinship, thus building a wider framework of quasi-kinship, is well attested in (later) Chinese culture and history (see how the terms of address mirror the organization of societies such as the Triads or guilds – or of groups of scholars who passed under the same examiner). Without entering further into these questions, this insight could also furnish a more precise and comprehensive (albeit tentative) explanation regarding the use of the terms xiōng (“elder brother”) and zhū xiōng (“all elder brothers”). If persons thus designated were – in a way similar to the “godfathers” –  not necessarily akin in the narrow sense of the term, then we might suggest that they were chosen to perform certain functions of elder brothers and thereby “related to” as elder blood brothers.30 The establishment of quasi-kinship in the functions of “godfathers” and “elder blood brothers” could also offer a cogent explanation for the recurrent appearance – often listed in the vicinity of genuine kinship groups – of these two groups in many dedicatory texts in bronze inscriptions.31

28Based on these results, we suggest a final emendation of the translation of E 3 above:

E 3 Godfather(s), elder (blood) brothers, and the body of the officers, did not wish that it should be so, and said, […].

  • 32 Schuessler (2007): 243.
  • 33 Yáng Bójùn (1985): 153.
  • 34 Another interesting field taking its cue from the role of a father is to be found in terms designat (...)
  • 35 It could be promising to follow up on the question why some of the name forms have the suffix in (...)

29The current lexicographical explanation (“honorific suffix attached to names of high-ranking men”32 or simply “elderly man”33) is basically the weakest possible definition, but, as has been shown, it lacks fundamental defining elements and certainly fails to specify the conditions under which this special title was granted.34 As far as age is concerned, it is in many cases even demonstrably wrong. The suffix definitely has the character of a title and not of a mere honorific, i.e. the honorific effect is due to service in a high function and to professional merits, and not just a matter of (formal) respect. These results may now serve as a foundation for further research into the definition of the function of such personages.35

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Bibliographie

Chuang tzu (1956). A Concordance to Chuang tzu. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Gassmann Robert H. (2006a). Verwandtschaft und Gesellschaft. Bern: Peter Lang.

Gassmann Robert H. (2006b). Die Namen der san Huan von Lu – oder: Vom Nutzen der Genealogie. In Friedrich Michael, Reinhard Emmerich und Hans van Ess (eds.), Han-Zeit. Festschrift für Hans Stumpfeldt aus Anlass seines 65. Geburtstags. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag: 791-806.

Hucker Charles O. (1985). Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Jíchéng 集成 (2001). Yīn Zhōu jīnwén jíchéng shìwén 殷周金文集. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Press.

Karlgren Bernhard (1972). Grammata serica recensa. Stockholm: The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities.

Kǒng Zǐ Jiā Yǔ 孔子家語 (1992). A Concordance to the Kǒng Zǐ Jiā Yǔ. Hong Kong: Commercial Press.

Legge James (1960a). The Chinese Classic. vol. I: The Confucian Analects. Hong Kong.

Legge James (1960b). The Chinese Classics. vol. II: The Works of Mencius. Hong Kong.

Legge James (1960c). The Chinese Classics. vol. V: The Ch’un Ts’ëw with the Tso Chuen. Hong Kong.

Lǚ Shì Chūn Qiū 呂氏春秋 (1994). A Concordance to the Lǚ Shì Chūn Qiū. Hong Kong: Commercial Press.

Schuessler Axel (2007). ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.

Shuō Yuǎn 說苑 (1992). A Concordance to the Shuō Yuǎn. Hong Kong: Commercial Press.

Watson Burton (1967). Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu. New York and London: Columbia University Press.

Yáng Bójùn 楊伯峻 (1985). Chūn Qiū, Zuǒ Zhuàn Cídiǎn 春秋左傳词典. Zhōnghuá shūjú: Běijīng.

Zhū Fēnghàn 朱凤瀚 (2004). Shāng Zhōu jiāzú xíngtài yánjiū 商周家族形態研究. Tiānjìn: Tiānjìn gǔjí chūbǎnshè.

Zhuāng Zĭ 莊子. A Concordance to Chuang tzu. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1956.

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Annexe

Source texts of quoted excerpts

E 1 楚之有直躬. 其父竊羊, 而謁之吏. 令尹曰: 殺之! 以為直於君而曲於父, 報而罪之. 以是觀之, 夫君之直臣, 父之暴子也.

E 2 君君, 臣臣, 父父, 子子.

E 3 父兄百官皆不欲也, 故曰:「吾宗國魯先君莫之行, 吾先君亦莫之行也; 至於子之身而反之, 不可.

E 4 無駭卒, 羽父請諡與族.

E 5 君之所不名臣者四: 諸父, 臣而不名; 諸兄, 臣而不名; 先王之臣, 臣而不名; 盛德之士, 臣而不名.

E 6 齊桓公將立管仲. 令群臣曰: “寡人將立管仲為仲父. 善者入門而左, 不善者入門而右.” 東郭牙中門而立. 公曰: “寡人立管仲為仲父, 令曰: ‘善者左, 不善者右.’ 今子何為中門而立?” 牙曰: “以管仲之智為能謀天下乎?” 公曰: “.” [牙曰:] “以斷為敢行大事乎?” 公曰: “.” 牙曰: “若知能謀天下, 斷敢行大事, 君因專屬之國柄焉. 以管仲之能, 乘公之勢以治齊國, 得無危乎?” 公曰: “.” 乃令隰朋治內, 管仲治外. 以相參.

Chinese characters for Figures 4 to 6

1: Yǐn (); 2: Huán (); 3: Zhuāng (); 4: Mǐn (); 5: Xī (); 6: Wén (); 7: Xuān (); 8: Chéng (); 9: Xiāng (); 10: Zhāo (); 11: Dìng (); 12: Āi ().

Figure 4 (Godfathers in Lǔ 魯): A: Zhòng-fǔ (眾父= gōng-zǐ Yì-shī 公子益師); B: Bì Qín-fǔ (費庈父); C: Yǔ-fǔ (羽父= gōng-zǐ Huī 公子翬); D: Shī-fǔ (施父); E: gōng-zǐ Qìng-fǔ (公子慶父); F: Jì-sūn Hàng-fǔ (季孫行父); G: gōng-sūn Guī-fǔ (公孫歸父); H: Céng Gǔ-fǔ (鄫鼓父); I: Mǐn Mǎ-fǔ (閔馬父); J: Gōng-liǎn Chù-fǔ (公斂處父);
K: Guǎn Zhōu-fǔ (
管周父); L: Kǒng Ní-fǔ (Ní-fǔ from the lineage of the Kǒng) (尼父= Confucius). Identifiable family ministerials (jiā chén) with the name-element : Zhǎn Wáng-fǔ (展王父), and Qín Jǐn-fǔ (秦堇父).

Figure 5 (Godfathers in Jìn ): A: Jiā-fǔ (嘉父); B: Pān-fǔ (潘父); C: Pī Zhèng-fǔ (丕鄭父); D: Xún Lín-fǔ (荀林父); E: Yáng Chù-fǔ (陽處父); F: Jī Zhèng-fǔ (箕鄭父); G: Xū Jiǎ-fǔ (胥甲父); H: Hé Zǔ-fǔ (和組父); I: Jiā-fǔ, the baron of Wú-zhōng (無終子嘉父); J: Hú-fǔ (狐父); K: Jí-fǔ (籍父); L: Liáng Yīng-fǔ (梁嬰父); M: Zhì-fǔ (from the lineage of the Zhào) (趙志父).

Figure 6 (Reign periods of the Dukes of Jìn ): Wén 文公: Xī 25 (634) – Xī
33 (626); Xiāng
: Wén 1 (625) – Wén 6 (620); Líng : Wén 7 (619) – Xuān 2 (606); Chéng : Xuān 3 (605) – Xuān 9 (599); Jǐng : Xuān 10 (598) – Chéng 10 (580); Lì : Chéng 11 (579) – Chéng 18 (572); Dào : Xiāng 1 (571) – Xiāng 15 (557).

Glossary

Āi-gōng wèn 哀公問

Āi-gōng wèn zhèng 哀公問政

bó 伯

bǔ zhāo fǔ 卜招父

bǔ tú fǔ 卜徒父

Chūn Qiū 春秋

Chūn Qiū, Zuǒ Zhuàn Cídiǎn 春秋左傳词典

Féng Chǒu-fǔ 逢丑父

fǔ 甫

fù, fǔ 父

Fù-fǔ 富父

fǔ xiōng 父兄

gōng 公

gōng-sūn 公孫

Gǒng-zhòng 共仲

gōng-zǐ Huī 公子翬

gōng-zǐ jì-Yǒu 公子季友

gōng-zǐ Qìng-fǔ 公子慶父

gōng-zǐ shū-Yá 公子叔牙

gōng-zǐ Zhǎn 公子展

Guǎn Yí-wú 管夷吾

Guǎn Zhōu-fǔ 管周父

Hánfēizǐ 韓非子

Jī (clan) 姬

jiā chén 家臣

Jiāng (clan) 姜

Kǒng-fǔ Jiā 孔父嘉

Kǒng zǐ (Confucius) 孔子

Kǒng Zǐ Jiā Yǔ 孔子家語

Lǐ Jì 禮記

Lǔ Huán-gōng 魯桓公

Lǔ Huì-gōng 魯惠公

Lǔ Mǐn-gōng 魯閔公

Lǔ Xiào-gōng 魯孝公

Lǔ Yǐn-gōng 魯隱公

Lǔ Zhuāng-gōng 魯莊公

mèng 孟

Mèng zǐ (Mencius) 孟子

Mín 民

Míng 名

Ní-fǔ 尼父

qí fǔ 圻父

qīng 卿

Rán Yǒu 然友

sān Huán 三桓

Shāng Zhōu jiāzú xíngtài yánjiū 商周家族形態研究

shū 叔

shū-fǔ 叔父

Shuō Yuǎn 說苑

Tāng 湯

Téng Dìng-gōng 滕定公

Téng Wén-gōng 滕文公

Xún Lín-fǔ 荀林父

Yáng Bójùn 楊伯峻

Yī Yǐn 伊尹

yú-fū 漁夫

yú-fǔ 漁父

Zāng Xī-bó 臧僖伯

Zhēng-kǎo-fǔ 正考父, 正考甫

zhòng-fǔ 仲父

Zhū Fēnghàn 朱凤瀚

zhū fǔ 諸父

zhū xiōng 諸兄

zǐ (term of address) 子

Zǐ (clan) 子

zǐ-Bān 子般

zōng 宗

zú 族

Zuǒ Zhuàn 左傳

zú rén 族人

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Notes

1 For Chinese characters of transcribed expressions, name, titles, and quotations from the sources, readers are kindly referred to the annex.

2 HFZ 49.09. Cf. Watson (1967): 105-106.

3 Lùn Yŭ 12.11. Cf. Legge (1960a): 256.

4 By following the traditional conventions for transcribing names I hope to give consideration to the reading habits of the general reader and to facilitate comparisons with the usual translations. For the few names just mentioned I would normally adopt the – admittedly more cumbersome, but far more informative – forms (at times added in brackets): Dìng-Patriarch of Téng for Duke Dìng, Wén-Patriarch for Duke Wèn, Yŏu of the lineage of the Rán for Rán Yŏu, and Squire Mèng for Mencius (Mèng zĭ). For more information, cf. Gassmann (2006a).

5 Mèng 3A.2. Translation (with adaptations) according to Legge (1960b): 237.

6 For the reading instead of , cf. below and note 8.

7 I therefore suggest that the character concerned should be read when the word refers to the biological father, and when it writes the suffixal form.

8 The two terms could possibly also include maternal uncles or maternal cousins, as certain commentaries suggest (cf. HYDCD 11.267). However, I shall not pursue the analysis of the field of ‘elder brothers’ any further in the context of this paper as there is no evidence that this group was entitled to a specific name form.

9 Yīn 8.10 ; Legge (1960c) : 26b, Par. 10.

10 On the occasion of the death of a further brother of Yŭ-fŭ in Yīn 5.8, the Yĭn-Patriarch refers to this person as shū fŭ ‘uncle-’; 20b, Par. 7. Cf. also below at note 16.

11 Cf. the corresponding chapters in Gassmann (2006a) and Gassmann (2006b): 791-806.

12 Of this ruler we have the precise date of birth: CQ Huán 6.5, i.e. on October 5, ­705. He dies on August 11, ­661, in his 32nd reign year (CQ Zhuāng 32.4) at the age of 43 years, 10 months and 6 days.

13 “Chéng-jì-Yŏu (the Chéng-junior Yŏu) […] received Bì and became the Supreme Qīng.” Cf. Zhao 32.6; 741b, Par. 3.

14 Zhuāng 32.3 (­661); Legge (1960c): 120b-121b, Par. 3.

15 Yīn 5.8 ; Legge (1960c) : 20b, Par. 7.

16 This name form appears for the first time in the Zuŏ Zhuàn appended to Yīn 4.5; Legge (1960c): 16b, Par. 5. The Chūn Qiū entry has the form ‘Huī’ ([gōng-zĭ] Huī). This slight discrepancy is probably due either to the fact that the Zuŏ Zhuàn was written or edited later than the Chūn Qiū, or to the fact that the meaning of the difference in form was no longer noticed.

17 This fact flatly contradicts the somewhat hasty explanation I favoured earlier, namely that age and seniority was the decisive factor for assuming or receiving the honorific suffix. Cf. Gassmann (2006a): 540-541.

18 This condition, i.e. being the eldest living brother of the head of a lineage (here of the ruler of a principality), already reveals a fundamental weakness of these explanations, as normally and due to the rule of primogeniture there is no living elder brother. This can only happen, when the person with the suffix mèng indicating the eldest of a secondary wife (in contrast with , the son of the principal wife), is older. The search will evidently have to go on.

19 It is not unusual for a language to have related words for this function, e.g. Italian (padre - ‘father’ vs padrino ‘godfather’), French (père vs parrain).

20 Shuō Yuăn (1992): 2.2.

21 Cf. the remarks at note 27.

22 This is my translation of , the term of address for ministerials.

23 Hánfēizĭ 33.12. Liao II:69-70. The name form ‘midborn godfather’ (zhòng fŭ) is met with quite frequently in the Lǚ Shì Chūn Qiū.

24 In this case it can also not be verified whether the appointment took place on the occasion of the birth of a son and successor.

25 Some of them are, of course, also mentioned in other sources, but the passages quoted are difficult to arrange in chronological sequences (which is evidently possible with the two sources mentioned here). Surprisingly, further sources do hardly add to the various lists of godfathers compiled here, thus indicating that these can be regarded as comparatively complete for the period covered. A range of major sources not tapped here is certainly the corpus of inscriptional material on bronzes, where the suffix occurs in considerable number. This would, no doubt, confirm the importance of these personages and maybe extend the period of validity my preliminary observations presented here. However, due to my limited competence in this field I shall gladly leave this line of research to better qualified colleagues.

26 Cf. the remarks concerning the collective terms mentioned in E 5 above.

27 I have also checked the situation in Qí which due to the information available is less impressive as the two presented here (Lŭ and Jìn, Jī clan), but it seems that the same rules prevail, even though the rulers of Qí belong to a different clan (Jiāng). In Sòng, whose rulers also belong to a different clan (Zĭ), there seem to be a different naming convention: The “normal” form in the principalities examined is ‘style + suffix ’, as in Yŭ-fŭ; in Sòng the form seems to be ‘lineage name + suffix ’, as in Kŏng-fŭ Jiā. The form Kŏng-fŭ is nowhere identified as a new lineage name, which theoretically would be possible (cf. the lineage Fù-fŭ name in Lŭ).

28 Cf. at note 25.

29 Such texts could thus justifiably be termed as “historical” and be regarded as basically reliable sources for reconstructing the views of Confucius.

30 The (extended) binomial constructions fŭ xiōng and zhū fŭ zhū xiōng are a clear indication that the two terms belong under the same categorical term and thus designate two variant forms of a type of relationship.

31 I owe, and gratefully acknowledge, the lead to the thoughts in this paragraph to an anonymous reviewer, who pointed out correspondences in inscriptional material that seem to support the findings issuing here exclusively from the received texts. In fact, in bronze inscriptions we find these terms as singles and in combinations: zhū fŭ (e.g. Jicheng 261); zhū xiōng (e.g. Jicheng 4628) fŭ xiōng (e.g. Jicheng 183-186); zhū fŭ zhū xiōng (e.g. Jicheng 2737). Research regarding these terms is presented by Zhū Fēnghàn in his Shāng Zhōu jiāzú xíngtài yánjiū (p. 292 sq. for the Western Zhōu period, especially p. 300-301, Zhū Fēnghàn (2004): 431 sqq. for changes in the Chūnqiū period). My thanks go to Wolfgang Behr for his generous help in a field where my competence is unfortunately limited.

32 Schuessler (2007): 243.

33 Yáng Bójùn (1985): 153.

34 Another interesting field taking its cue from the role of a father is to be found in terms designating outstanding professionals who due to their mastery became bearers of a title with the suffix . The Zuŏ Zhuàn transmits three designations of professional functions with the suffix : bŭ zhāo fŭ ‘master diviner for summons’, bŭ tú fŭ ‘master diviner for followers’, and qí fŭ ‘master of the royal domain’ (cf. Yáng Bójùn (1985): 11, 302.). In ancient Chinese society, age was intimately linked with experience and therefore with knowledge, expertise and savoir-faire. The correlation of the suffixal element ‘father’ with outstanding professional mastery is quite evident und establishes a clear link between such designations and the function of a godfather as described in this paper. However, the fact that, as an example, the designation yú-fŭ ‘master fisherman’ (= “fisherman-father”) in the Zhuāngzĭ (Chapter 17) appears in a reminiscently similar passage in Shuō Yuăn 11.11 in the form yú-fū, would open up a new line of investigation which cannot be pursued here.

35 It could be promising to follow up on the question why some of the name forms have the suffix in an alternative reading, e.g. in the case of an ancestor of Confucius, Zhēng-kăo-fŭ (cf. list of characters). The alternative character is – together with fù ‘father’ – part of series 102 in Karlgren (1972) and appears in characters writing words like ‘protect, help’ (102v), ‘assist’ (102c’ and 102u’), or ‘teach, instruct’ (102u’). The first and the last item also appear in (later) titles recorded in Hucker (1985): entries 2031 and 2035.

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Référence électronique

Robert H. Gassmann, « “Fathers” Galore », Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident [En ligne], Hors-série | 2012, mis en ligne le 01 janvier 2015, consulté le 29 juillet 2017. URL : http://extremeorient.revues.org/206 ; DOI : 10.4000/extremeorient.206

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Auteur

Robert H. Gassmann

Robert H. Gassman est professeur émérite à l’université de Zurich. Il a publié de nombreuses études sur divers aspects de la grammaire du chinois ancien et de l’histoire de la Chine ancienne. Ses publications récentes comprennent Antikchinesisches Kalenderwesen. Die Rekonstruktion der chunqiu-zeitlichen Kalender des Fürstentums Lu und der Zhou-Könige (Peter Lang, 2001), ainsi que Verwandtschaft und Gesellschaft im alten China. Begriffe, Strukturen und Prozesse (Peter Lang, 2006).

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