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What is Genrational Name?(字辈)

09/12/2023

Cheng Bohan


In Chinese culture, "字辈" (zì bèi) refers to a tradition within families or clans known as the Generational Name Tree. It is also sometimes translated as "generational name tree" or "surnames for generations." This tradition involves selecting specific characters or a set of characters, often in the form of a poem, to represent a particular generation within a family.

 

Here's how it typically works:

1. Ancestor: The tradition often begins with an ancestor who chooses a combination of Chinese characters, such as a poem, to symbolize their generation. These characters become the generational name.

2. Successive Generations: Each subsequent generation within the family uses the same generational name but adds different characters as their given names. This ensures that they have unique individual names while maintaining the generational connection.

3. Passing Down: The tradition continues as each new generation adds its unique characters to the generational name, creating a lineage. This practice helps maintain a sense of continuity and preserves family identity.

 

 

For example, the Zhengyi Clan has its own generational name poem that originated from the 30th Celestial Master Zhang Jixian(张继先) and was passed down to the first person with this name, Patriarch Sa Shou Jian(萨守坚). This Generational Name Tree is known as "San Shan Di Xue Zi Bei," meaning "Three Mountains Blood Bonding Generational Name Tree" (三山嫡血字辈).

 




The poem reads as follows:

“守道明仁德,全真复太合,至诚宣玉典,忠正演金科,冲汉通元蕴,高宏鼎大罗,三山愈兴振,福海涌洪波,穹窿扬妙法,寰宇证仙都。”

 

When Zhang Jixian passed this Generational Name Tree to Patriarch Sa, Sa received the holy name 守坚 (Shou Jian), and his family name was 萨, written in front of the holy given name. Sa Shou Jian’s disciple would carry on the Generational Name Tree, and the next character after 守 (Shou) would be 道 (Dao).

For instance, if his student's name were 王小红 (Wang Xiao Hong), the Generational Name Tree would be placed in the middle of the student's full name, making their holy name 王道红 (Wang Dao Hong).

Due to the Generational Name Tree, Wang Dao Hong’s disciple would inherit the Chinese character 明, and if 王道红 (Wang Dao Hong’s) disciple were named 李大紫 (Li Da Zi), Wang Dao Hong would give the name 李明紫 (Li Ming Zi) to the disciple, and so on.

 





The Three Mountains Blood Bonding Generational Name Tree(三山嫡血字辈) remains constant, indicating that all these individuals belong to the same family or clan. This practice helps people within the same family or clan identify one another's rank and whether they are older or younger.

 

The Generational Name Tree tradition continues to hold cultural significance for Daoist schools and clans, most of the schools or clans has its own unique Genrational Name Tree. Preserving their heritage and fostering a sense of continuity and identity.


Here are some famous Daoist Generation Name Trees:

正一武当玄武派: Zhengyi Wudang Xuanwu Clan  (Pai) :

宣渊一道志, 求德振常存,

照应通玄理, 微希太景成,

武当兴法派, 惟仙尊之宗,

大岳气自然, 五龙呈祥烟,

玉虚宏图展, 三丰丹技传,

南岩捧圣真, 紫霄永吉昌。


茅山上清派:Maoshan Shangqing Clan  (Pai) :

混靖希景,守汝玄志,宗道大天,得性自尊,

克崇祖德,光绍真应,师宝友嗣,永世仁昌,

公存以敬,有子必承,能思继本,端拱一成。

元复其始,粹清纯如,载启先觉,钦明澹支,

灏演精信,神涵堪时,性定龙顺,念受敏持,

懋嘉骈锡,福广春堤,云章揖业,绪悉瑶芝。


阁皂山灵宝派: Gezaoshan Lingbao Clan  (Pai) :

大道生灵宝,弘教由孝先,

宪师开正觉,仪法育高贤,

金科铺仙路,玉律守福田,

云篆明造化,神符通幽显,

丹元融圣体,洞天好纪年,

致虚惟静笃,养和性自全,

玄宗传慧业,后昆承前彦,

应时耀祖德,善乐修睦缘。


武当三丰派:Wudang Sanfeng Clan  (Pai) :

玄元通道居端静,白鹤乘虚向自清,

师资月圆皈志礼,身中抱一管丹成,

太上渊微入妙园,凌云星朗贮壶天,

功候到日方许就,始悟真言信可传。


全真龙门派:Quanzhen Longmen Clan  (Pai) :

道德通玄静,真常守太清,

一阳来复本,合教永圆明,

至理宗诚信,崇高嗣法兴,

世景荣惟懋,希微衍自守,

未修正仁义,超升云会登,

大妙中黄贵,圣体全用功,

虚空乾坤秀,金木性相逢,

山海龙虎交,莲开现宝新,

行满丹书诏,月盈祥光生,

万古续仙号,三界都是亲。


全真华山派:Quanzhen Huashan Clan  (Pai) :

至一无上道 崇教演全真 冲和德正本 仁义礼智信

嘉祥宗泰宇 万里复元亨 清静通玄化 体性悟诚明

养素守坚志 虚灵慧业生 希贤遵秘法 慎修保纯贞

敬谨规良善 默功毓秀英 勤能扶世运 积久大丹成

永建根基厚 仙瀛书盛名 圆满光华照 云天庆上升

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