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where do the dynasties got their names from?

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I've got a question about the dynastie's names. Where do they come from? I think, it's not the emperor's family name. So how did they get the names?

谢谢你 :)

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July 2, 2005

Dear Xiumei:

This is a good question and I would also be interested in hearing the answers. From my brief experience of reading the posting on this website, you've come to the right place for good (hopefully correct as well) answers.

For what it's worth, the Tang dynasty got it's name because The First Emperor of Tang, before he was Emperor, was bestowed the fiefdom of Tang and was known as King of Tang. So it was natural for him to carry on with Tang as his dynasty name after he had successfully "One Unite Heaven Below". Similarly for Han, since the first Emperor was known as King of Han prior to being Emperor.

The Qin (of Qin Beginning Emperor) dynasty is easy since they were the Chin Kingdom of the Warring States.

Ming got it's name from the fact that the first Emperor of Ming was a member of the White Lotus Society and this Society believed in two mythical Kings, Big Brilliant King and Small Brillant King. Brillaint in Chinese is pronounced as Ming.

It probably would be "logical" to "infer" that the other dynasty's probably choose their names in a similar fashion. But how about Hsia (Summer) and Song (Merchant)?

I've heard (others please correct my misconception if I am wrong) that Chin (Manchus) selected their name which means "Translucent", so that in a play on words (which Chinese enjoy), they came "ahead" of Ming which means "Bright".

Hope we get some interesting answers.


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Every founding emperor probably had his own reason for naming the dynasty. Here's what I could find on the naming of the Qing dynasty 清.

Nuerhaci, Qing's founding emperor, was a Jurchen. He originally named his dynasty Late Jin (后金)after the Jin dynasty founded by his people several hundred years earlier. The Jurchens had named their dynasty the Jin (金, "Golden") after a river in their homeland.

Nuerhaci's son, Hong Taiji, changed the tribal name to Manchu. Wanting to rule all of China, he apparently changed "Jin" to "Qing" to avoid being associated with disliked earlier foreign regime of Jin. There's a theory that since Qing ( 清, with a water radical) is associated with the character for water (水) and Ming (明, with a sun radical) is associated with the character for fire ( 火), Qing means that the Water dynasty vanquished the Fire dynasty.

Wikipedia has more:


The dynastic name Later Jin was a direct reference to the Jin dynasty founded by the Jurchen people which ruled northern China from 1115 to 1234. As such the name was likely to be viewed as closely tied to the Jurchens and would perhaps evoke hostility from Chinese who viewed the Song dynasty, rival state to the Jin, as the legitimate rulers of China at that time. Hong Taiji's ambition was to conquer China proper and overthrow the Ming dynasty, and to do that required not only a powerful military force but an effective bureaucratic administration. For this he used the obvious model, that of the Ming government, and recruited Ming officials to his cause. If the name of Later Jin would prove an impediment to his goal among many Chinese, then it was not too much to change it. Whatever the precise motivation, Hong Taiji proclaimed the establishment of the Qing dynasty in 1636. The reasons for the choice of Qing as the new name are likewise unclear, although it has been speculated that the sound - Jin and Qing are pronouced similiarly in Manchu - or wuxing theory - traditional ideas held that fire, associated with the character for Ming, was overcome by water, associated with the character for Qing - may have influenced the choice.

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July 2, 2005

Dear Gato:

Thanks for the detailed clarification of the origin of the name Ching for the dynasty of the same name. Whether true or not, it does make "history" or "wild history", what ever the case may be, more interesting. :wink:


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