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The Development of Lineage and the Management of Charitable Land in Huizhou from Ming to Qing Dynasty: A Case Study of the Baos Lineage in Tangyue Village

Kam Chau KWOK (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
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This article examines the development of the Baos Lineage in Tangyue village from Ming to Qing period, especially their ancestral halls and lineage land. In early Ming dynasty, with a reputation of filial piety of their Song ancestors, the Baos had formed a village and registered themselves in the Ming state. They conducted ancestral worship in different Buddhist temples and earth god shrines, but had not built up large-scale ancestral trust until the breakdown of the lijia taxation. When in the mid-Ming the new taxation method abolished the link between tax rate and sizes of household, the Baos lineage expanded, bought much land, and registered it in the household of dead ancestors. At the same time, they built grandeur ancestral halls for the worship and land control, and compiled genealogy to define the membership of the trust holders. The Baos lineage further expanded in the Qing, thanks to the generous donation from its Yangzhou's lineage member. In this expansion, the Baos lineage bought more land, called “charitable land”. By the rules it laid down, this land belonged to their common ancestors, and was thus permanent and inalienable. From the mid-Ming onwards, ancestral worship had become an effective way for the Chinese to accumulate perpetual wealth with limited liability prior to the emergence of company law.

Journal of History and Anthropology