China Daily 30 Anniversary Edition

Huangchuan: origin of a name and culture

By Huang Ming (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-06-01 08:30
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 Huangchuan: origin of a name and culture

The historic county, home to the Huang Kingdom, is a political, economic and cultural center in the southeast of Henan province. Yang Hailong / For China Daily

 Huangchuan: origin of a name and culture

Descendants of ancient Huang Kingdom get together to worship their ancestors. Chen Baisong / For China Daily

 Huangchuan: origin of a name and culture

Monument to mark the site of the ancient state of Huang Kingdom, which is now on the national cultural heritage protection list. Chen Baisong / For China Daily

 Huangchuan: origin of a name and culture

A monument highlights the Huang family name, which is one of the most common names in China. Chen Baisong / For China Daily

While foreign Kungfu lovers may know of the Chinese martial arts hero Huang Feihong - who once defeated a gang of 30 men armed only with a bamboo stick - they are probably unaware of the history of his surname Huang.

The eighth most common Chinese family name, Huang originated from the Huang Kingdom, which was created by an emperor in the Xia Dynasty (c. 21st century-16th century BC). It is reportedly the first Chinese family name to be named after a kingdom.

The ancient city-state's ruins are six kilometers to the northwest of Huangchuan county's central area and relics show that the city had a total land area of 2.8 square kilometers, with city walls about seven meters high. According to experts, the city was established not later than Western Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century-771BC).

The well-preserved archeological site is now on the national cultural heritage protection list and four pieces of bronze ware unearthed at the site are now part of the National Museum of Chinese History collection.

After more than 1,400 years, the ancient Huang kingdom was taken over by the stronger Chu Kingdom in 648 BC and many of Huang citizens fled. By royal decree, all the citizens adopted the name of their kingdom as their surname in remembrance of their origin.

Many of them escaped into the Chu Kingdom's central area - mainly today's Hubei province and some places in the central province were named after the refugees such as Huanggang, Huangshi and Huangbei.

About three hundred years after the Huang Kingdom was conquered, Huang Xie, who was a descendant of former Huang Kingdom residents that remained in homeland, served the Chu Kingdom as prime minister for 25 years, enabling it to prosper in peace.

For his outstanding performance, he was granted 12 counties, including the old residence of the former Huang Kingdom and ranked among the four renowned noblemen in Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

But the man who brought honor to the Huang family was killed in 238 BC and his family members had to flee to different places of ancient China to avoid prosecution.

But as well as Huang Xie there are a series of historic Huang figures.

They include prime minister Huang Ba in Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), Huang Xiang who was declared a model of filial piety in Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220), the renowned poet and calligrapher Huang Tingjian in the Song Dynasty (960-1127), spinner Huang Daopo in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and Huang Xing, one of the founders of the Republic of China (1912-1949).

During the revolution, Huangchuan served as an important revolutionary base and it is continuing its glory today.

A political, economic and cultural center in the southeast of the province, the county is a key transportation and communications hub.

Two natural gas pipelines, transport gas from western China to the east, also converge in the county.

A key opening-up economy in the province, Huangchuan was designated one of Henan's six centers with expanding regional influence during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010) by the provincial government.

With the Huang Stream - a branch of the Huai River running through it, Huangchuan is a State-level eco-friendly demonstration county and it is well-known for its ducks, flowers, woods, and turtles.

The historic county has bright prospects and is the homeland of the Chinese who carry the surname around the world.

The author is in charge of the agricultural hydraulic system section of the provincial government's water conservancy department and an executive director of a provincial research institute of family name Huang culture. He was previously deputy chief of the county Party committee.

(China Daily 06/01/2011 page56)