Henan county an ancestral haven for Chinese worldwide
Genealog y is a common interest among many Chinese people, whether they are living at home or abroad, as ancestral worship is at the core of Chinese cultural values.
Henan province, which is known as the Central Plain, is the cradle of Chinese civilization and the origin of many Chinese family clans.
According to Shi Jichun, deputy chairman of the Henan committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, 78 of the top 100 family names in China have their origins in Henan.
Gushi, a county in Henan, holds a unique place among residents of Fujian and Taiwan, as well as many overseas Chinese, because of large migration movements from Gushi b e g i n n i n g d u r i n g t h e Ji n Dynasty (265-420).
In Taiwan, 63 of the top 100 family clans have origins in Gushi, according to their family history books.
In Gushi, there is an annual root-seeking cultural festival, offering a platform for people sharing Gushi-native heritage to get together.
This year’s festival opened on September 26.
A milestone event during the festival is the opening of the Wang’s Memorial Museum to commemorate Wang Shenzhi, one of the most famous historical figures from Gushi.
Wang was appointed the governor of Fujian in the turbulent years of the late Tang Dynasty (618-907).
While the rest of the country was in the midst of constant war and conflict, people in Fujian enjoyed a peaceful life because of his wise and beneficial administration.
As the ruler of Fujian, Wang was said to be frugal, often wearing hemp shoes and resid- ing in a small house. His criminal penalties were relaxed and tax rates were low. These policies were said to lead both the government and its people to wealth, and keep his realm relatively calm.
Because of Wang’s contribution to local development, he was remembered by the Fujian people as one of the most prominent figures in local history .
Wang’s massive family also went with him to Fujian, where they flourished into a large local clan after dozens of generations.
The museum was invested in and built by Wang Mingyi, chairman of the Pinnacle Group based in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province. He is also a 36 th-generation descendent of Wang Shenzhi.
Wang said the purpose of building the memorial museum is to enhance the coherence of the Wang clan, to remind them of the great contributions of their ancestor and to pass down the moral legacy of Wang Shenzhi to future generations.
“One of the most remarkable legacies left by Wang Shenzhi is his sense of responsibility for the people and the country, and the enterprising spirit in building a homeland amid many difficulties,” Wang said.
After settling in Fujian, some Wang clan members also went beyond Fujian to Taiwan province, Southeast Asia and the rest of the world.
“Wang’s Memorial Museum will also offer a platform for the Wang clan members to worship their ancestors and build connections,” Wang said.
In addition to Wang Shenzhi, there are also other prominent people from Gushi that made great contributions to the spread of Central Plain culture — an important part of the Chinese civilization — to the rest of the country.
Wang Zhixue, head of the Gushi county government, mentioned Sun Shuao, the prime minister of the Chu State during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), who brought the relatively advanced farming and navigation techniques of the Central Plain to the south. Li Tong, a Han Dynasty (207 BC-AD 220) general, also made great contributions to the country’s unification.
Wa n g a l s o t a l ke d a b o u t C hen Yuanguang , a Gushi native during the early Tang Dynasty, who was a prominent pioneer in developing Fujian.
At the age of 13, Chen accom- panied his father Chen Zheng, commander of the southern China military expeditionary force, on a march to Fujian to set up a regional administration.
In 677, Chen Zheng died, and Chen Yuanguang took over his father ’s duties, leading the troops.
Chen established order in Fujian and, as a result, the entire region, with Zhangzhou at the center, became stable. He then introduced advanced farming and production techniques to the region, making it as prosperous as the Central Plain.
Chen’s descendents also settled in Fujian and later moved to Guangdong, Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia.
The people of Zhangzhou, Fujian, along with the descendants of immigrants from Zhangzhou to Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, all refer to him as the “Sacred Prince, Developer of Zhangzhou”.
Qu Shangying, Party chief of Gushi, said the county has been a traditional destination for genealogy among Chinese people all over the world.
“We are glad to see that many Chinese people with ancestral roots in Gushi have exerted increasing influence across the Taiwan Straits and throughout the world,” Qu said.
He said the genealogical events in Gushi are building close connections between Gushi and the world, and the growing affinity for Gushi among Chinese people in the rest of the country and the world is expected to bring more cultural and economic prosperity to the county.
Since 2008, when the first Gushi root-seeking cultural festival was held, more than 100,000 people from home and abroad took trips to the county, praying to their ancestors, donating to local education institutions, or setting up businesses, according to Qu.
We are glad to see that many Chinese people with ancestral roots in Gushi have exerted increasing influence across the Taiwan Straits and in the world.” Qu Shangying, Party chief of Gushi
Folk performances are held to celebrate the Gushi root-seeking cultural festival.
The millennium-old Miaogao Temple is evidence of the longstanding and brilliant culture of Gushi.