|Vietnamese alphabet||th?y hi?u|
A posthumous name is an honorary name given to royalty, nobles, and sometimes others, in East Asia after the person's death, and is used almost exclusively instead of one's personal name or other official titles during their life. The posthumous name is commonly used when naming royalty of China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.
Posthumous names in China and Vietnam were also given to honor lifetime accomplishments of many people who did not have hereditary titles – for example, to successful courtiers.
The posthumous name consists of one or more adjectives inserted before the ruler's current title. As rulers from different states might share the same posthumous name, but rulers within a state would usually not repeat an already used name, the name of the state or domain is usually also given to avoid ambiguity. In Chinese the whole construct is therefore "[state][adjective][title]", which in English is typically translated as "[title][adjective] of [state]", such as King Wen of Zhou, Duke Mu of Qin, and King Cheng of Chu. The literal meaning of the adjective is normally not translated.
While the names of living Chinese can be just about any combination of characters, the posthumous name was chosen from a rather small pool of stock characters; the literal meaning of which eroded as a result.
Early mythological rulers such as Emperor Yao are considered to have posthumous names. All rulers of Shang Dynasty are known only by their posthumous names, as their personal names were not recorded in classical texts.
Archaeological discoveries have shown that early kings of the Zhou dynasty, such as King Wen and King Wu, used "posthumous names" during their lifetime, but later they became chosen by successors after the ruler's death. As a result, final rulers of states and rulers seen as illegitimate (such as usurpers) often do not have posthumous names and are referred to by their personal names, e.g. Jian, King of Qi; Min, Marquis of Jin; and Chen Tuo.
The use of posthumous names was stopped in the Qin Dynasty, because Qin Shi Huang proclaimed that it is disrespectful for the descendants, or "later emperors" to judge their elders, or the "prior emperors" (). The practice was revived in the Han Dynasty after the demise of Qin.
Posthumous names are the conventional way of referring to rulers from the Zhou dynasty to the Sui dynasty. In the Zhou dynasty the posthumous name was usually only one character, such as "Wen" (cultured) or "Wu" (martial). However, as time went on rulers began to add more and more characters to the posthumous names of their ancestors. By the time of the first emperor of Tang the length had grown to 7 characters, which was taxing to pronounce or write. Therefore, emperors from Tang on are commonly referred to by either their temple name (Tang through Yuan dynasties) or era name (Ming and Qing dynasties), both of which are always just two characters long and therefore easy to remember and use.
Posthumous names commonly made tracing linear genealogies simpler and kept a blood line apparent. The rule was also followed by non-Han Chinese rulers of Sixteen Kingdoms, Silla, Japan, Kingdom of Nanzhao, Liao dynasty, Vietnam, Western Xia, Jin dynasty, Yuan dynasty and Qing dynasty. King names of H?ng Bàng dynasty and Mahan also followed the rule but they are thought to be later work.
Most monarchs inherited the throne and did not give bad posthumous names to the previous monarch. Some names were lengthened or changed by later monarchs. Emperor Aizong of Jin and Chongzhen Emperor had different names from different people. Qin Hui, of the Song dynasty, had a good name, was given a bad one, and had the good name later restored. After the Song dynasty few received bad names. Bad monarchs of the Joseon dynasty did not receive posthumous names.
Emperors of China continued to receive posthumous names of increasing length as a matter of ritual long after the naming convention had been abandoned in casual speech and writing. The Guangxu Emperor, who died in 1908 and was the last emperor to receive a posthumous name, sports the impressive 21-character title of "Emperor Tongtian Chongyun Dazhong Zhizheng Jingwen Weiwu Renxiao Ruizhi Duanjian Kuanqin Jing of Qing".
Use of posthumous names ceased in China with the Guangxu Emperor (d.1908), in Vietnam with the Kh?i nh Emperor (d.1925) and in Korea with the Yunghui Emperor (d.1926). However, in Korea unofficial posthumous names were given to Crown Prince Euimin and Gu, Prince Imperial Hoeun.
Posthumous names are in use to this day in Japan. A deceased emperor is given a posthumous name, which beginning with Emperor Meiji (d.1912) is identical to his era name and therefore always two characters long. The most recently conferred posthumous name is that of Emperor Showa (d.1989).
A non-royal deceased person may be given a posthumous Buddhist name known as kaimyo, but is in practice still referred to by the living name.
Posthumous names can be praises () or deprecations (). There are more praises than deprecations, so posthumous names are also commonly called respectful names ( z?n hào) in Chinese. Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian outlines extensively the rules behind choosing the names. Some of those guidelines:
However, most of these qualifications are subjective, repetitive, and highly stereotypical; hence the names are chosen somewhat arbitrarily. Such names are usually given by court historians, according to their good deeds or the bad ones.
When combining an emperor's temple name and posthumous name, the temple name is placed first. For example, the Shunzhi Emperor whose full posthumous name would be "Shi Zu - Zhang Huang Di" (), combining the last 2 characters of his temple name and the last 3 of his posthumous name, which is the form most commonly seen in old documents. A fuller description of this naming convention for royalty appears in the Chinese sovereign entry. The posthumous names of some monarchs and royal members were long, for example Hongwu Emperor, Nurhaci, Crown Prince Hyomyeong, Sunjo of Joseon and Empress Dowager Cixi.
Some monarchs did not follow these guidelines. Some monarchs of Ju, Chu, and Qi used place names. Some monarchs of Yue (state) had Chinese transliterated posthumous names. Some monarchs of Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje had different style posthumous names. Some early Japan monarchs also had Japanese-style posthumous names (?).
All Chinese posthumous names for rulers end in one or two of the characters for "emperor", Huángdì (, i.e. emperor), which can be shortened to Dì; except about a dozen or so less recognized ones who have had only Dì and no Huáng.
Starting with Emperor Xiaowen of Han (more commonly "Emperor Wen"), every single Han emperor, except the first one of the Eastern Han Dynasty, has the character of "filial" (? xiào) at the beginning of his posthumous names. "Filial" is also used in the full posthumous names of virtually all emperors and empresses of the Tang, Song, Ming and Qing Dynasties. For Qing emperors, ? xiào is placed in various position in the string of characters, while those Qing empresses who were given posthumous names, ? xiào is always initial.
The number of characters in posthumous names was increasing. The emperors of the Tang Dynasty have names in between seven and eighteen characters. Those in the Qing Dynasty have twenty-one characters. For instance, that of the Shunzhi Emperor was "The Emperor of Order who Observes the Heavenly Rituals with a Solemn Fate, Destined to Unify, Establishes with Extreme Talented Insights, Admires the Arts, Manifests the Might, with Great Virtue and Vast Achievement, Reaches Humanity, Purely Filial" (?, Listen to pronunciation (help·info): t? ti?n lóng yùn dìng t?ng jiàn jí y?ng ruì q?n wén xi?n w? dà dé hóng g?ng zhì rén chún xiào zh?ng huáng dì).
The woman with the longest posthumous name is Empress Dowager Cixi, who is "The Empress who is Admirably Filial, Initiates Kindness, with Blessed Health, Manifests Much Contentment, Solemn Sincerity, with Longevity, Provides Admiration Prosperously, Reveal Adoration, Prosperous with a Merry Heaven, with a Holy Appearance" (? xiào q?n cí x? du?n yòu k?ng yí zh?o yù zhu?ng chéng shòu g?ng q?n xiàn chóng x? pèi ti?n x?ng shèng xi?n huáng hòu), or for short.
According to the noble system since the Zhou Dynasty, the immediate family members of the Emperor were given the titles of Kings (or Princes), Dukes, Earls, etc., with or without actual control over a region of land. After their death, they would be referred to by the same title, with the posthumous name (usually one character) inserted in the middle. The characters used are mostly the same ones used for emperors, with the same denotations as described above. For example, Prince Gong of the Qing Dynasty was posthumously named Zhong (?), and thus is referred to as Prince Gongzhong (? Gongzhong q?nwáng); Prince Chun was posthumous named Xian (?), hence is referred Prince Chunxian (? Chunxian q?nwáng).
It was also common for persons with no hereditary titles, especially accomplished scholar-officials or ministers, to be given posthumous names by the imperial court. The characters used are mostly the same ones used for emperors, with the same denotations as described above. The length, however, was restricted to one or two characters. The posthumous name is sometimes rendered canonization in English, for the scholar-official to Confucianism is analogous to the saint in the Catholic Church, though the process is not nearly as long. See List of Posthumous Names for some examples.
Confucius has been given long posthumous names in almost every major dynasty. One of the most commonly used was Zhìshèngxi?nsh? ?.
Sometimes a person is given a posthumous name not by the court, but by his own family or disciples. Such names are private posthumous names (S?shì, ). For example, Tao Qian was given Sishi Jìngjié .
In Japan, posthumous names are called shig? (), okuri-na (?), or tsuigo (). Those of Japanese emperors are also sometimes called teig? (, "emperor name[s]").
There are two styles in emperors' posthumous names, namely Chinese style and Japanese style. In addition to the appellation Tenn? (, "heavenly sovereign", usually translated as Emperor) that is a part of all Japanese emperors' posthumous name, most of them consist of two kanji characters, although a few consist of three. Some names are given several generations later--this is the case for Emperor Jimmu and Emperor Antoku, for example. Others are given immediately after death, like that of Emperor Monmu.
Many have Chinese-style names, for example:
Some have Japanese-style names. For example:
Since the death of Emperor Meiji (? Meiji Tenn?) in 1912, the posthumous name of an emperor has always been the name of his era. For example, after his death, Hirohito (by which he is usually called outside Japan) was formally renamed Emperor Sh?wa (? Sh?wa Tenn?) after his era; Japanese now refer to him by only that name. Hirohito was his given name; most Japanese never refer to their emperors by their given names, as it is considered disrespectful.