Lineage and Community in China, 1100–1500 : Genealogical Innovation in Jiangxi book cover
1st Edition

Lineage and Community in China, 1100–1500
Genealogical Innovation in Jiangxi


Xi He

ISBN 9781032174693
Published September 30, 2021 by Routledge
240 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $48.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Tracing descent from common ancestors was extremely important in imperial China. Members of such lineage communities sacrificed to ancestors in periodic ceremonies, maintained written genealogies to demonstrate their descent, and held some properties in common. This book, based on extensive original research, provides evidence that the practice originated much earlier than previously understood. It shows that in the eleventh century, in southern China under the Song dynasty, the method of compiling a genealogy in the form a table, that is, to say a family tree, replaced its statement as a textual paragraph and that this allowed the tracking of multi-line descent in ways that had previously been impossible. The book also reveals that the practice of recording and presenting genealogical information was not originally unique to communities of common surnames, but that the Southern Song government, keen to encourage loyalty to the state and cohesion within communities, favoured the building of common surname lineages, a practice which then had far-reaching consequences for the nature of Chinese society over a very long period.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction   Part 1. Jiangxi  2. Turning local, turning literary  3. Economic boom and its limitations  Part 2. Tracing lineages  4. Naming versus co-residence  5. Writing down the genealogy  6. The lineage made real  Part 3. Imagining communities  7. Impetus from religion  8. Loyalty in the Song-Yuan Transition  9. Taxation and land ownership from the Song to the Ming   10. The lineage as ideology in the Ming  11. Conclusion: The elite and the rest

View More



Xi He is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.