Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Details: "The Legend of Zhao"

" Descendant of the 2nd emperor of the Song Dynasty (Zhao Gunagyi), Jue Joe was born and raised in a chicken coop, in 1860. He grew up dirt poor and vowed that his descendants would never suffer as he had. " Auntie Soo-Yin

Ever wonder why the Jue clan is so tall when Jue Joe and Jue Nui immigrated from Southern China where people are usually quite short ? How does a descendant of an emperor of China end up born and raised in a chicken coop ? The answers make a fascinating story and lead us way back in time into ancient China at the time of the Song ( or Sung) dynasty. Many thanks for Auntie Soo-Yin for writing her book the " Legend of Zhao" and tracing the Jue Clan roots all the way back to Emperor Taizong of the Song Dynasty and even earlier still.

Taizong, Wade-Giles romanization T’ai-tsung, personal name (xingming) Zhao Jiong, original name Zhao Kuangyi, or Zhao Guangyi (b. 939, China—d. 997, China), temple name (miaohao) was the second emperor of the Song dynasty (960–1279) and brother of the first emperor, Taizu. He was responsible for unifying all of China under the Song Dynasty. Here are some portraits of Emperor Zhao( Jue ) Guangyi

"In civil administration Taizong paid particular attention to education, helping to develop the civil-service examination system and to further its use in determining entrance into the bureaucracy. He centralized control more thoroughly than ever before in Chinese history, concentrating great power in the emperor’s hands. He followed the Tang dynasty’s prefectural system and divided China into 15 provinces, each of which was under a governor. By the end of Taizong’s reign, Song rule had become established, and the dynasty had begun its great cultural and economic achievements."
The Song dynasty period has been called the Chinese Renaissance. Probably the most advanced civilization in the world at the time , it was vibrant time in the arts, literature ,science and technology. "
The scientific development in the Song Dynasty ranked forefront in the world of the time. The world-shaking China's three greatest inventions-the gun powder, compass, movable-type printing were invented at that time, which altered the whole world's civilized rate of progress."

"The Song dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝) was a ruling dynasty in China from 960-1279. Its founding marked the reunification of China for the first time since the fall of the Tang dynasty in 907.
The Song dynasty itself can be divided into two distinct periods: the Northern Song and Southern Song. The Northern Song (960-1127) signifies the time when the Song capital was in the northern city of Kaifeng and the dynasty controlled all China. The Southern Song (1127-1279) refers to the time after the Song lost control of northern China to the Khitan Liao dynasty, itself later conquered by the Jurchen Jin dynasty. The Song court retreated south of the Yangtze River and made their capital at Hangzhou"

A famous Chinese general, Yue Fei, of the Southern Song dynasty who fought heroically against northern invaders has been immortalized in Chinese lore and song as a symbol of Chinese patriotism and loyalty to country.

Here is a nice tour of modern day Hangzhou , capital of the Southern Song Dynasty and some history about the dynasty itself.

"The northern Jin dynasty was overrun by the Mongols (Genghis Khan/Kublai Khan) in 1234, who subsequently took control of northern China and maintained uneasy relations with the Southern Song court. The Mongol Yuan dynasty, proclaimed in 1271, finally destroyed the Song dynasty in 1279 and once more unified China, this time as part of a vast Mongol empire.
In 1276 the Southern Song court fled to Guangdong by boat, fleeing Mongol invaders, and leaving the Emperor Gong of Song China behind. Any hope of resistance centred on two young princes, Emperor Gong's brothers. The older boy, Zhao Shi, aged nine was declared emperor, and, in 1277, the imperial court sought refuge first in Silvermine Bay (Mui Wo) on Lantau Island and later in today's Kowloon City, Hong Kong (see also Sung Wong Toi). The older brother became ill and died, and was succeeded by the younger, Zhao Bing, aged seven. When on March 19, 1279 the Song army was defeated in its last battle, the Battle of Yamen, against the Mongols in the Pearl River Delta, a high official is said to have taken the boy emperor in his arms and jumped from a clifftop into the sea, drowning both of them. "

And thus our family's imperial legacy ended. The Zhao(Jue) family were no longer royals and became commoners. The family line had moved from the North to the South with the fortunes of the Song dynasty . Jue Joe and his brothers and other members of the Jue clan who were descended from royal northern blood were tall as are northern Chinese and different then the other southern Chinese around them .

Here is a tribute to the imperial legacy of the Jue (Zhao) clan and the Song Dynasty.

Courtesy of Auntie Soo-Yin , here is the direct lineage of San Tong Jue . The " Nay " generation born in the USA includes Auntie Soo-Yin and her siblings including my father.(Click to enlarge).

Here is some information concerning the Zhao (Jue ) surname and a nice list of famous people with our family surname .

"Zhao is represented in Cantonese by either Chu, Chiu, Chew, Jue or Siu."
Here is the Chinese character for Zhao (Jue) in simplified Chinese . It is easier than the more complicated traditional Chinese character for our surname that my grandmother Kwok taught me to write as a child . ( The original character is at the beginning of this post. )

edited 10/2/2010 see Auntie Soo-Yin's comments concerning the origin of the Zhao (Jue) Chinese character . Please click on the image below to see details.


  1. We are blessed that Jue Joe and his son, San Tong, had kept the Jue clan's history intact and had passed it from generation to generation. It is a precious gift from our ancestors. The evolution of the Jue surname ("Zhao," in Mandarin)began during the Warring States Period over 3,000 years ago in China's history. Four pictograms were combined to comprise the single Zhao (Jue) surname. The four pictograms within the surname represents "four corners of the earth." The simplified "X" on the right side of the Zhao word was originally two pictograms: Top right corner, a spade; bottom right corner, a tilled field. The left side of the Zhao word is comprised of two pictograms: Top left corner, a man; bottom left corner, the radical/root for "motion." The surname depicts farming in the Fen River Valley, a valley which is located in Shanxi Province in North Central China, at the great bend of the Yellow River. The Fen River is an estuary of the Yellow River, and its valley is the birthplace of the Jue clan. Farming in the Fen River Valley marked the expansion of China's agricultural revolution. Also, the surname is classified in the "plant" group of Chinese surnames. This was for tax identification when the region paid its tribute of grain to the Zhou imperial court. The region was called the "Jin Commandery" ("Tsun," in Cantonese) under the Zhou Dynasty, then it was segregated into Zhao, Han, and Wei States in a fierce battle for dominance. Finally, the three feudal states broke into seven warring states until Shihuangdi of the Qin State unified China for the first time. It is interesting that the dialect spoken in Sum Gong Village, in Xinhui District of the Pearl River Delta, Guangdong Province, is very similar, linguistically, to the Jin language spoken in the old Jin Commandery in China's North Central Plain. As the Jue ancestors migrated southward they brought the Jin language with them, and over the centuries, the Jin language blended with Cantonese Siyi dialect that is spoken in the Pearl River Delta. This is why Sum Gong Village's (Sanjiang, in Mandarin) dialect is a little different sounding from Cantonese spoken by its neighbors. The Chinese Ministry of Education classifies Jin as a separate language from Mandarin, though some linguists believe it is a subdialect of Mandarin. Nevertheless, the Jin language of Shanxi Province reflects its tribal heritage. Today, Shanxi Province has twenty-eight original tribes living within its territory. So the Jue clan's legacy is deeply interwoven with China's history. Auntie Soo-Yin.

    The root ancestor of the Jue clan is Zaofu. In 1001 BC King Mu of the Zhou Dynasty gave his half-brother and personal chariot driver, Zaofu, the Jin Commandery. The Jin contained Shanxi, Henan, and Hebei Provinces, and portions of Inner Mongolia. Zaofu was allowed to start his own clan under a new surname. He adopted "Jue" as his surname from a town he controlled in the Jin Commandery, in today's Shanxi Province. His son, Zhao Cui, was first to carry the Jue surname. And the Jue rulers were called "Marquess" for the Zhou emperors during the Spring and Autumn Period, until 403 BC.

    Founded by the Jue clan in 453 BC during the Warring States Period, recognized by the Zhou emperor in 403 BC. King Wuling was first to carry the title of "King" after separating the Jin Commandery from the Zhou Dynasty and dividing it among three ruling families, the Jue clan being the largest and strongest. However, in 228 BC the Zhao State was defeated by the Qin State.

    Zhao Yun was one of five Tiger Generals, highest honored rank, in China's military history. As a blood brother in the Lung Kong Association he gave aid to Liu Bei of the Shu State against Cao Cao of the Wei State, and defeated Cao Cao in the Battle at the Red Cliffs, in AD 208, along the Yangzi River.

    Founded by the Jue clan. Emperor Taizu's heirs died in childhood. So all descendants of the Jue clan come from the second emperor, Emperor Taizong (Zhao Guangyi), and his half-brother, Prince Wei, who never took the throne. In the political turmoil of China's great history, the Jue royal family ended up in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong Province. Clan members spread out to hide from Kublai Khan's Mongol invasion, but the main fortress appears to be Sum Gong Village located by the Ngan Ho River at the lip of the South China Sea and near Macau. In AD 1279 the Mongols controlled all of China except for Xinhui County, in which stood Sum Gong Village. The Battle of Yamen (Ngai moon, in Cantonese), in AD 1279, marked the end of the Song Dynasty. And the body of the boy emperor, Bing, was buried on the south slope of Yashan Mountain (Ngai San Mountain), which is an Island in the middle of the Ngan Ho River next to Sum Gong Village. In Hong Kong there is a monument called the "Sun Wong Toi" that honors the last two Jue princes who set foot on HK's territory while on the lam from Kublai Khan. According to San Tong, Prime Minister Luk Sao Fu (Siu Fu)strapped the 9-year-old Emperor Bing onto his back, lashed the Song's imperial jade seal to the boy's left hand, and jumped off their ship into the South China Sea so as never to abdicate the throne to the Mongols. Their ship was trying to escape by sea. There are different stories as to how the suicide happened so I'm just recalling what my father had told me. Thousands of Song loyalists also jumped into the sea, fearing what the Mongols would do to them if they were caught. Auntie Soo-Yin.

  3. Thanks so much Auntie Soo-Yin for all the fine information ! I have edited the post to include the nice diagram you drew up to illustrate the origins of our family name.

  4. We also have the Jue/Jew/Joe last name and have roots from around Canton, but our family name is Zhou, 周

  5. Thank you for sharing. The information is indeed resourceful for someone like me who doesnt read in Chinese. My mom's last name is Zhao. She traces back her root to the first emperor of the Song. Her father was born in Minhou Fuzhou, then moved to Langsa Indonesia to avoid civil unrest and for a better life. Today, part of the family and relatives lives in Medan Indonesia and elsewhere.

  6. how can i find my family histoy in china jiangmen xinhui. i just know this.
    i got QQ1930019777 can add me
    coz i really want to know more about our family history in china

    1. My family is from Jiangmen/Xinhui and I've been researching my family history as well. I've found a database of villages in Xinhui here http://villagedb.friendsofroots.org/display.cgi it's #4 on the list.

    2. Thanks Ali ! your database if very helpful , our family is from Sun Wui , #4 on the list , then #1 on the sub list - Sam Kong Heung, and then #5 Hang May village , My aunties visited in 1986 and made a video .... Good luck with your family history research !

  7. Please correct typo: You misspelled the name in the first sentence it's not Zhao Gunagyi, It's Zhao Guangyi 趙光義.
    -Shrm Chao

  8. Auntie Soo Yin, thanks for your informative post. I wonder if you could put the Chinese character for the names in your post? Some I could deduce from your romanizations but some I could not. For instance, the Jin Commandery is that 晉郡 (jeun gwan Canto Yale)?
    Sum Gong is 三江, right?
    What about Zaofu?
    I am a member of the Chew Family Association in SF 趙家公所 and I have a website http://chewfamilyassoc.webs.com/
    I would like to quote some of your post if I may.
    I am also a member of the four surname Lung Kong Tin Yee Association which are Lau, Gwan, Jeung, Jiu 劉,関,張,趙 named after the four characters of the Three Kingdoms period, 劉備, 關羽,張飛,趙雲。

  9. Names romanization in Mandarin Pinyin (Cantonese Yale)
    Zhao Guangyi = 趙光義(Jiu gwan yi
    Taizu = 太祖 (Tai jou)
    Taizong = 太宗 (Tai jung)
    Yue Fei = 岳飛 (Ngok Fei)
    Jin Commandery = 晉郡(Jeun gwan)
    Qin State = 秦囯(Cheun gwok)
    XinHui = 新會(San Wui)
    Sanjiang = 三江(Saam Gong)
    Zaofu = 造父(Jou Fu)( in diagram)
    King Mu = 穆王(Muk Wong)
    Zhao Yun = 趙雲(Jiu Wan)
    Liu Bei = 劉備(Lau Bei)
    Guan Yu = 關羽(Gwaan Yu)
    Zhang Fei = 張飛(Jeung Fei)
    Cao Cao = 曹操(Chou4 Chou1)
    Red Cliffs,赤壁 chi bi (Chek bik)
    The 4th son of Taizong in diagram = yuan fen 元份(yun fan)
    Shi huang di = 始皇帝(Chi Wong Dai)
    Zhao dynasty = 周朝(Jau chiu)
    Shanxi provence = 山西省(Saan Sai saang)