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Clan of achievers

By Yang Feiyue and Sun Ruisheng | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-13 09:02
A 78th-generation member of the Pei's clan, Pei Jianmin, imparts the clan's family culture to villagers in Wenxi county. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Walls were also constructed and tablets inscribed with the names of the outstanding ancestors of the Pei clan, and a memorial hall was also established.

Now visitors are able to learn more about the prominent Pei ancestors, such as Pei Xiu, one of the most outstanding cartographers from the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316); Pei Ji, the first prime minister of the Tang Dynasty; and Pei Xingjian, a Tang Dynasty general who put an end to a rebellion by an ancient tribal people known as the Tujue.

The feats of the Pei ancestors have also given rise to a distinctive clan culture.

The Pei clan has a family code that consists of 12 dos and 10 don'ts. These were written in a terse form of traditional Chinese and have been passed down through the generations since the Tang Dynasty, when Pei Du, a prime minister, returned to the village and became a strong advocate for introducing education.

There is a room dedicated to housing these pearls of wisdom that keep the Pei family on the straight and narrow.

The family rules hammer home to Pei offspring the importance of such virtues as respecting their ancestors and parents, maintaining good relations with neighbors, being honest and modest, remaining hardworking and thrifty, pursuing professional skills, and following a strong code of social ethics.

Many Pei people from far and wide come and visit the ancestral hall on the third day of the third month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which is said to be the birthday of the first Pei.

An ancestor-worship ceremony is also held every year in Peibai village.

Now, an increasing number of visitors come to learn about the family's lore.

Pei Jianmin attributes the hall's popularity to President Xi Jinping's advocacy of good family traditions.

Since then he has played a major role in explaining his clan's philosophy in simple terms to visitors from around the country and beyond.

Last year, the ancestral hall registered more than 80,000 visits.

"Many people come here to learn how to maintain an honest work ethic in business, in government or in private," he says.

Parents and children now form a considerable section of the visitor demographic.

"I encourage children to be independent, work hard and make good use of their talents," he adds.

The local authority has invited Tsinghua University's School of Architecture to draw up plans to reconstruct the ancestral hall to its original state.

"The original floor plan is available, and everything will be restored based on it," Pei Jianmin says.

In addition, elements encouraging patriotism, good conduct and education will be added, he says.

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