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Loyal Village: The Construction of the Yang Lineage of Lutijian, Daizhou in Yuan and Ming

Special Issue
Chaojian HAN (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
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This essay explores how the Yang surname of Lutijian (Deer-hoof Stream), Daizhou, Shanxi, gradually created a lineage organization and ritual practice. The Yang surname first came to local power under the Mongols. For a long period thereafter they maintained a large household with shared residence and common property, as well as extensive cemetery fields and an image hall of ancestral portraits. In the Yuan, as the power of hereditary local warlords declined, the Yang built an ancestral hall in which the statues of the ancestors received offerings. The turmoil of the Yuan-Ming transition affected the internal relations of the lineage. Subsequently the descendants of those members of the lineage who had been entered into state registers in the early Ming gained control over the lineage. In the Jiajing period (1522-1566), the lineage began to implement construction of a "standardized" lineage, with the compilation of a genealogy, creation of a lineage compact, establishment of corporate fields and so on, even if there were many practices, for example the role of the descent-line heir or the arrangement of images in the hall, which were not at all standardized. At the same time, through forming alliances with other lineages and tracing the origins of the ancestors, they sought actively to establish themselves as exemplars of orthodoxy. Their various efforts secured them the praise of state officials, to the extent that state representatives continuously sought to compile a genealogy on their behalf. The development of the Yang lineage in the Yuan-Ming period saw on the one hand a process of dissolution and reintegration of the group, which was also an ongoing redistribution of interests, and on the another a never-ending quest for official recognition and support. The crucial background to this was the Yang's continuous ownership of large tracts of land.

Journal of History and Anthropology