The Research on Family Literature of Wei Clan in Jingzhao Area during Sui and Tang Dynasties
|Course||Ancient Chinese Literature|
|Keywords||Wei Clan in Jingzhao Aera family culture family literature|
Wei Clan in Jing Zhao area was one of the most important aristocratic families in the medieval period in China. The old saying, "the Wei and Du Clans in the south are adjacent to the emperor in the town", reflects the prosperity of Wei Clan vividly. Mr. Mao Hanguang has analyzed 60 surnames of the noble from the Eastern Han Dynasty to the Late Tang Dynasty (more than 700 years) which shows that only Wei Clan in Jingzhao area, together with Zheng Clan in Henan, Yang Clan in Hongnong and Cui Clan in Boling sustained its existence from the Eastern Han Dynasty to the Late Tang Dynasty, going through Three Kingdoms, Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties and the Sui Dynasties. That reveals fully the vitality of Wei Clan.The ancestor of Wei Clan was JianKeng who was the descendant of Zhuan Xu and conferred originally in Great Peng. In the period of Xia Shaokang, Yuan Zhe specially conferred on Shiwei. During the period of Emperor Zhou Nan, the kingdom of ShiWei died out and the clansmen moved back to Peng City reluctantly. In memory of their native county, they named after it as a surname and Wei resulted as a family name. After nearly a hundred years of recovery, Wei Clan began its family history in the middle of the Western Han Dynasty. Wei Meng, who was the tutor of the three kings in Chu, wrote a famous article, Poetry of Remonstration. The descendant of Wei Meng’s fourth generation, Wei Xian, who had mastered The Book of Poetry, The Book of Rites and The Book of History, was known as a great Confucius scholar in Zou-Lu area. Wei Meng was granted as the prime minister by Emperor Xuan in Han Dynasty. He taught The Book of Poetry, The Book of Rites to his son, Wei Xuancheng who got the position of prime minister, then the clan migrated to Duling. Since then, Duling in Jingzhao became their new settlements and developed into the county of the Wei Clan gradually. From then on, Wei Clan in Jingzhao was written into the history. During the five generations, the foundation of family culture and the position of Confucius classics traditions were established.Wei Clan in Jingzhao developed in the period of the Eastern Han and Three Kingdoms continously. Particularly Wei Biao, who was hailed as a descendant of Confucianism, was respected by them. He has written WeiQingzi(12passages), The Past of SanFu(1 volume), which was the beginning of books in Wei Clan. What’s more, Wei Dan, known for his handwriting in the period of the Three Kingdoms in China, together with his brother Wei Kang, was praised highly by Kong Rong. When China was in chaos for wars in Two Jins Dynasty, the members of Wei Clan were in dilemma for confusion and concealment. It was not until in the Northern and Southern Dynasties that the clan rose simultaneously in the north and south. In the Northern Dynasty were Wei Lang, Wei Shang, Wei Daofu ect. who guided the whole family into the dignitaries with their intelligence and morality. The branch in the Southern maintained the financial development and enhanced self-cultivation in history. Most of the clansmen were diligent in literature and history who held the cultural transmission superiorly.In the Sui and Tang Dynasties, Wei Clan demonstrated the cultural advantages and influences while experiencing its prosperous development and its improvement of the noble social status. In terms of the branches concerned, there were nine in Wei Clan in Tang Dynasty, such as the branch of Xiao Yao Duke, Yun Duke, Lang Duke, Peng City Duke, Little Xiao Yao Duke, Mei City Duke, Nan Pi Duke, Long Men Duke and Ping Qi Duke. Such nine branches together created the family’s history with some respective characteristics of development and culture.The branch of Xiao Yao Duke and Yun Duke were the most intimated kins and shared many similarities in the process of development and cultural characteristic. They inherited the official positions generation after generation. They were knowledgeable and gracious who valued literature and art. About 50 literators were the descendents of these two branches. Wei Yingwu was the most famous in Tang Dynasty for his achievement in literature with his unique style. The clansmen still had a large number of writings on economy, history which were the excellent representative branches in Wei Clan. The branches of Lang Duke and Peng City Duke were unfavorable in their career. The political prominence declined soon like a flash-in-the-pan. It influenced on literature deeply in two aspects: firstly, the achievements paled with the appearance of only a dozen literators in the two branches and Wei Yuandan was the only well-known; secondly, their lifetime was in vague for their family decline and some of the literators couldn’t be verified in detail, which in a sense showed the connection between the family status and the spread of works.The branch of Little Xiao Yao Duke was the only one emerged in Tang Dynasty. It had the name without the reality of Happiness. It shared similarities with the premier two and presented differences at the same time. The similarity is that the prosperity of the branches were in short duration and depressed rapidly after reaching the peak, untill unknown in Mid-Tang Dynasty. The difference was the prominent achievements in literature. The branch of Little Xiao Yao Duke was well-known for Ci, a type of classical Chinese poetry. Although with less than 10 literators, Wei Chengqing, Wei Sili ect. were celebrated literary talents. Wei Sili’s works witnessed a glittering occasion attended by the emperor and the noble who composed poems and enjoyed themselves. The attractive garden and its beautiful seasons in the Resort of Wei Clan inspired the literators to visit enthusiastically.Mei City duke Branch was prosperous later compared with other branches. Wei Gao who played an important role in the emergence of the family was regarded as the pillar in Mid-Tang Dynasty. Wei Shu’s erudition contributed to the cultural atmosphere for the branch. He was the author of Spring and Autumn in Tang Dynasty(30 volumes), Official Etiquettes in Tang Dynasty( 30 volumes), Record of Emperor Gao( 30 volumes), and so on, over 200 volumes in all. He was highlighted by the quantity of writing in Wei Clan. Wei Qumou, who was tutored by LiBai (one of the most well-known poets in China) was adept in poetry. He was familiar with three religions and made a contribution to philosophy, history and Buddhism. Besides some collection of poetry, he also wrote Notes of Chuang-tzu, Lao-tzu, Notes of Diamond Sutra, Book of Filial Piety and so on. In addition, Wei Biaowei’s, the father and his son Wei Chan’s getting into Hanlinyuan (National Academy) showed their prominence in politics and literature of the branch when Hanlinyuan played an important role in Mid-Tang period..The branch of Nan Pi Duke was prosperous earlier and favored by Emperor Taizong in the Royal Court at the beginning of Zhenguan. More than 20 persons held the post of prime ministers and awarded the title of LangGuang Family in Tang Dynasty, which proved the power of the branch in the Court. The branch of Nan Pi Duke got to its top during Emperor XuanZong, following the rise and the decline of Tang Dynasty. In literature, a dozen writers came from the branch, undistinguished, except Wei Zhuang, who was taken as the most excellent in the branch. His representative works were The Song of Qin Lady and The Collection of HuanHua. He paid more attention to the creation of literary form and distinguished with Wen Tingjun in the Collection of HuaJianThe branch of Long Men Duke was similar to the branch of Mei City Duke in the course of development. It grew prosperous gradually with a flat beginning and reached its peak in Mid-Tang Dynasty when the famous literators concentrated relatively in this period. Wei Tiao and Du Fu had extraordinary friendship. Wei Jian was Xiao Yingshi’s good friend, and had friendly relationship with Gao Shi and Liu Changqing. Wei Zhiyi got into Hanlinyuan in his twenties. Wei Xiaqing was good at exquisite diction in youth. What should be clarified especially is that Chuangyuan("No. 1" in the Imperial examinations) Wei Guan in " Local Conditions in Guilin," was in the branch of LongMen Duke, not a staff member of Li Deyu. Therefore, "Travels in Zhou and Qin " couldn’t be written by Wei Guan and Wei Xun might be the real author.The branch of Ping Qi Duke were decedents of the Western of Wei Clan, who were inferior to the Eastern relatives in status and literature. The writers had few works. In addition, the branches of Wei Clan developed uneven just like Yuan Clan in Wei and Jin period which was divided into North Yuan and South Yuan, the former rich and the later poor. Even in the same branch, after several generations, it would be differentiated into more small ones. It was natural for some clansmen who forgot their origin because of the official changes, wars and migration. Furtherly, some missing documents with ages made it impossible to verify all the authors of Wei Clan except the nine branches mentioned (more than 50 authors in Wei Clan couldn’t be verified, most of whom concentrated in Mid-Late Tang Dynasty) in the works such as The Poetry of Tang, The Passages of Tang, The Extension of Tang Passages etc. However, the clansmen in Wei Clan descended from one ancestor and the majority of them originated in JingZhao area, who together with other branches constituted their family literature.What’s more, the Xue Family in HeDong and the Yu Family in HeNan ,who had an affinity with the Wei Family, have performed remarkably in literature.In general, Wei Clan in Jingzhao had a higher social and political status, accompanied by the prosperity in literature in Sui and Tang Dynasties. More than 100 literartors constituted a large literary family which topped in literature in Tang Dynasty. They have made a great contribution to the development of literature in Tang Dynasty.