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Know Wuxi by 10 surnames: Jiang (蒋)

(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-10-18 10:20

The origination of surnames in China can sometimes be controversial. With a history dating back thousands of years, it's quite hard to tell which family or group a certain surname's first generation belonged to.

However, the origination of the surname Jiang (蒋) is very clear. There is even a saying that only one true Jiang family ever existed in Chinese history and anyone with the surname is descended from it.

The "true" Jiang family originated from west Wuxi's Yixing county, Jiangsu province, according to the record. Almost all Jiangs are descendants of Jiang Cheng, a powerful Yixing-born official in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).

According to local chronicles, there were a total of 920 Jinshi (successful candidates in ancient Chinese imperial examinations) from Yixing, with 85 of them coming from the Jiang family.

Wuxi's first Zhuangyuan (the top scorer in ancient Chinese imperial examinations), Jiang Chongzhen, was also a member of the Jiang family. The Jiangzi Pavilion on Xuelang Mountain was where he studied for the imperial examination in 1223, in which he placed first. In commendation of him, the pavilion became one of the most prestigious private schools in Wuxi's history; it's a tourist attraction nowadays.

Another famous member of Wuxi's Jiang family is Jiang Jie, considered one of the four most famous Ci-poets in the last years of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). Jiang Jie became a Jinshi in 1274, at almost the same time when Mongol armies started invading his country. Five years later, the Southern Song Dynasty finally ended.

Jiang Jie was raised in a noble family in Yixing, and was trained to have great respect for classical Confucianism. Therefore he refused to work for the government of the Mongolian Yuan dynasty. Jiang Jie never did become an official or politician, even though he passed the imperial examination when he was young. Instead, he travelled around the country and left more than 90 poems and Ci-poems beloved by people both in his time and today.

Know Wuxi by 10 surnames: Jiang (蒋)

The character Jiang (蒋). [Photo/provide to chinadaily.com.cn]

Know Wuxi by 10 surnames: Jiang (蒋)

The Jiangzi Pavilion on Xuelang Mountain. [Photo/provide to chinadaily.com.cn]

 

 

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