Sep 5, 2013

Gan Heritage Centre China Chapter

Gan Heritage Centre

A beacon of inspiration, the early ancestors of the Gans were prominent figures in the history of China. Their life stories and achievements are a legacy to be cherished. What have an ancient king and the mother of a revered Sage have in common with Gans in the later generation?

One Surname, Varied Pronunciations & Character Evolution
Five people hailing from different countries but they share one common surname - 颜. “I am Feifei, my surname is Yan, (颜) from China.”“I am Qingxia, my surname is Yen, (颜) from Taiwan.”“I am Fucheng, my surname is Ngan, (颜) from Hong Kong.”“I am Dehua, my surname is Ngan, (颜) from Macao.”“I am Yanzhi, my surname is Gan, (颜) from Singapore.”A Chinese character can be pronounced in different ways; depending on the geographical regions and dialects spoken by the speakers. The written form of the Chinese characters has also evolved with the passing of time. As such, the 颜 surname is pronounced in different ways and its form has also changed as the Chinese script evolved from the Greater seal form to the present-day Modern Simplified form. When the Chinese emperors conferred the title of Sage to Kongzi (Confucius), Yanzi (Yan Hui), Zhenzi and Menzi, the descendants of the latter also inherited the exalting title. Similarly, as a Gan (颜), you stand to inherit the status of a “Sage” – the en-nobling title that was conferred to your ancestor, Yan Hui, centuries ago. The pronunciation of 颜 varies, but it does not stop here. With the evolution of the characters over time, even the written form varies just as diversely.   甲骨文Oracle Bone    缺 金文Greater Seal 篆文Lesser Seal 隶书Clerky Script 楷书Standard Script 行书Running Script 草书Cursive Script 繁体字Traditional Script 简体字Modern Simplified
Yan You was the first king of the Xiao Zhu state and was originally known as Cao You. His ancestor was called Yan An who inherited a piece of land, which later flourished into the Zhu Kingdom, a feudal state of Lu Guo. According to the judicial rules of that time, Cao You had to give up his surname in order to ascend the throne. He adopted his father Yi Fu's style name Bo Yan. From then on Cao You was known as Yan You. This officially made Yan You the first Yan in Chinese history. Yan You left a legacy of cultural heritage to later generations. In 653 BC, when Zhen Shun Li conquered Xiao Zhu, the state flourished under his rule and the people became wealthy. The state also enjoyed peace with the neighbouring state. Xiao Zhu was hailed as the “Gentleman State of the East” The 7th king, Mu Kong, ruled the kingdom for 41 years. The kingdom reached its peak during his reign.
Confucius's biological mother Yan Zhengzai married Shu-liang He at the age of 16. The couple often visited Ni Qiu or Mount Ni to pray for a son. Thus they named their child Qiu, styled as Zhongni. After Confucius lost his father at the age of three, he and his mother moved into the home of his maternal grandfather, Yan Xiang, a man well-versed in learning and martial arts. Confucius was raised and educated at the Yan residence. Yan Zhengzai passed on when Confucius was 17. She was bestowed the title of “The Lady of Lu State” during the Song Dynasty (1008 AD) and honoured as “The Qi Sheng Wang Lady” during the Yuan Dynasty (1330 AD). Confucius – the greatest philosopher, educator and thinker in Chinese history – was profoundly shaped by this great lady who bore the surname of Yan and had earned the venerable title of Mother Yan and Mother of the Sage. Her exemplary wisdom, code of ethics and moral conduct are a beacon of inspiration to the Gan clan.
Source of Roof Tile: Memorial Hall of the Mother of Confucius
A memorial hall was built in memory of Confucius’ mother in a manor at Yan Mu Mall. The memorial hall, which has grey clay roof tiles, was built in 1493 AD. There is a main entrance leading to 3 secondary halls that are surrounded by a walled boundary.Confucius was China’s greatest philosopher, thinker and educator. The Yan family played a significant role in the education and upbringing of Confucius before he was sanctified a Sage.  It is no exaggeration to state that Confucius mother’s great influence had contributed to the latter’s journey to becoming great Sage. She was bestowed the title of Mother of Sage (Sheng Mu or Yan Mu).When Confucius was 17, his mother died and his maternal grandfather Yan Xiang took over the role as the educator of young Confucius.  His relentless efforts in educating and guiding his grandson enabled Confucius to create a legacy of learning.If you have the chance to visit Yan Mu Hall, you will feel the presence of Confucius in this revered place.
(531–590 AD), a native of Langya, Linyi, was from the 35th generation of Yanzi’s family lineage. He had outstanding literary talent and started his career at the age of 19. Yan Zhitui was a distinguished poet and author with prolific literary works. "The Family Instructions of Master Yan" was his greatest work and is hailed as the treasury of Chinese family instructions. It became China's first compendium of family instructions. "The Family Instructions of Master Yan" comprises 7 volumes and 20 chapters. Its rich, encompassing content is based on Yan Zhitui's lifelong experiences in self-cultivation, state legislation, family management and learning. “The Family Instructions of Master Yan” serves as good reference for strengthening family ties and developing a strong family culture.
Yan Zhenqing (709–785 AD) was a leading Chinese calligrapher and a loyal governor of the Tang Dynasty. His artistic accomplishment in Chinese calligraphy parallels that of the greatest master calligraphers in Chinese history. His regular script style, Yan, is often imitated by admirers. Yan Zhenqing is popularly known as the only calligrapher who shared the same standing as Wang Xizhi, the "Calligraphy Sage". He specialised in kaishu (楷) Script and caoshu (草) Script, although he also mastered other forms of writings. His Yan style of Kai Script, which brought Chinese calligraphy to a new realm, emphasised strength, boldness and grandness. Yan Zhenqing set an unsurpassed standard in terms of his calligraphy accomplishments, knowledge and character. In the period of the An Lushan Rebellion, when Yan Zhenqing was fifty years old, he penned his representative work, "Funeral Address for Nephew Ji-ming”, which was later hailed as "the Second Best Running Hand in the World” (Wang Xizhi’s Orchid Pavilion ranks as the best).
《Ji Zhi Wen Gao》
《Ji Zhi Wen Gao》 is a draft of a funeral oration written by the calligrapher of Tang Dynasty, Yan Zhenqing, for his nephew Yan Jiming. It is a Running Script (行书), height: 20.8cm, width: 75.5cm, twenty-three lines, with two hundred and thirty-four words in total. It was written in 758AD. The original masterpiece is now located in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, the display above is a reproduction. The draft recounts the governor of Changshan Yan Gaoqing and his son’s noble deeds of bravely fighting back An Lushan’s rebellion and finally sacrificed their lives. It reveals Yan’s intense grief to his nephew Yan Jiming. The draft was said to be “The Second Best Running Script in the World” by Xian Yushu, a calligrapher of Yuan Dynasty.
Yan Shiqi’s style name was Zhen Quan (1589–1625 AD). He hailed from Fujian, Long Hai County. Since young, he had been an advocate of justice and was skilled in martial arts. When he killed someone to address an insult, he went on the run from the law and escaped to Japan, where he made underworld acquaintances. His growth in influence resulted in his appointment by the Japanese government to head the Chinese community. In 1624, his displeasure with the Tokugawa Shogunate Government led him to plot a rebellion. When his plot was exposed, he escaped by sea to the North Harbour of Taiwan, where he built ten colonies and taught the basics of agriculture to the natives. People from Zhang Zhou and Quan Zhou, China, later migrated to Taiwan and settled down in Yan Cuo Liao, a region populated by the Yans. Yan Shi Qi is considered the founding father of Taiwan.
Yanzi (521 BC–481 BC), named Hui, styled Ziyuan, was a native of Lu in the late Spring and Autumn period. As Confucius' most favourite disciple, he is known for his virtue and self- cultivation.  He exerted a great influence on later generation of scholars, and ranked first of the ten chief disciples of Confucius, who fell into four classes. After Confucius passed away, the Confucianists were divided into eight schools of teaching, one of which was the Yan school.Yanzi was brilliant, fond of learning and diligent in thinking and upheld Confucius’ teaching. He spread Confucian teachings by conducting public lectures and accepting disciples; and also helped Confucius in compiling the Classics, which included the Books of Poetry, History, Recorded Rites and Changes, which evolved into Yan-ist Confucianism.
Yanzi (521 BC–481 BC), named Hui, styled Ziyuan, was a native of Lu in the late Spring-Autumn period. As Confucius' most favourite disciple, he was known for his virtue and self-cultivation. He exerted a great influence on the later generation of scholars, and ranked first among the ten chief disciples of Confucius, who fell into four classes. After Confucius passed on, the Confucianists were divided into eight schools of teaching, one of which was the Yan school.   In the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), Yanzi was ranked the first of the 72 famous disciples of Confucius. In the first year of the Zhengshi reign period of the State of Wei in the Three Kingdoms period (475 BC–221 AD), Yanzi was the only disciple who worshipped together with Confucius at memorial ceremonies.  In the eighth year of the Kaiyuan reign period (713 AD–741 AD) of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, he was named the Second Sage. In the ninth year of the Jiajing reign period (1522–1566 AD) of Emperor Shizong of the Ming Dynasty, he was given the title Continuator of the Sage. The temple of the Continuator of the Sage was built in honour of him in Qufu, Shandong Province.
State of Wei - Besieged in Kuang City
The Prince of Wei schemed against Confucius and created turmoil. After nearly one year in Wei, Confucius left the State with his disciples.  When they passed by Kuang City, Confucius was mistaken for Yang Hu whom they resented and thus they were besieged by the locals.  At that time, Confucius and his disciples had run out of food and faced hostile weather. Yan Hui persuaded the locals to let him find a witness. On the fifth day, Yan Hui sent for Ning Wuzi to resolve the misunderstanding.
State of Chen - Ambitions on Mount Rong
Confucius ascended Mount Rong with his disciples and asked them to share on their ambitions. Zi Lu’s aspiration was to conquer the territories and Confucius hailed him as brave.  Zi Gong desired to be a debater and Confucius commented him as eloquent.  Yan Hui was committed to promote Confucianism and to instruct people in rites and music. He wanted people to live and work in peace and contentment. Confucius praised him for being far-sighted.
State of Chen, Cai - Benevolence and Righteousness
Confucius and his disciples ran out of food during their besiegement.  Zi Gong managed to find a little grain. When the food was ready, Zi Gong caught Yan Hui eating first and doubted his character.  But the reality was, Confucius had requested to offer sacrifices when Yan Hui first served the food to him.  Yan Hui replied that the food cannot be used for sacrifice due to the dust that had dropped into the pot.  He found it a pity to throw the food away so he picked it out and ate it.  Confucius esteemed Yan Hui very highly for his noble and humanistic behaviour. 
State Of Lu - The Poor But Contented Scholar
In 484 BC, Ji Kangzi from the State of Lu invited Confucius to return home. Accompanied by Yan Hui, Confucius eventually went back to the State of Lu and ended his inter-state travels. Upon his return, Yan Hui accomplished two things. He spread Confucian teachings by conducting public lectures and accepting disciples; and also helped Confucius in compiling the Classics, which included the Books of Poetry, History, Recorded Rites and Changes, which evolved into Yan-ist Confucianism.
The earliest Yans lived in the Lu state (Shandong Qufu). To seek a better life, the Yans left their homeland to resettle in new places, from Dong Han to Bei Song. The migratory pattern of the Yan spans five major waves over a period of 1,000 years.
The first big wave was eastbound towards Lang Ya in the Dong Han era (156–189 AD). Yan Shengju of the 24th generation was part of this migration wave.
The second wave surged southwards to Jian Ye (259–307 AD), during the tumultuous reign of Jin Hui. This happened in the time of Yan Han.
The third wave went westwards to Chang-an (present day Xi-an), in 577 AD. Yan Zhitui and his family, under the instructions of the then King Wu Di, spearheaded the move.
The fourth wave came full circle, reverting to the Lu state towards the end of the Tang Dynasty period (907-979 AD). Due to the unstable political situation in 952 AD, the 43rd-generation descendant of Yanzi, Yan Man, left Chang-an and headed eastwards to Jian Kang and Lang Ya.
The fifth wave took a southern turn in the end period of the Bei Song Dynasty in 1128 AD. During his reign, King Zhou Gou crossed the Chang Jiang River. Yan Jiaofeng, the 50th-generation descendant of Yan Zi, accompanied the king to Wuling, Jiangnan (present-day Hangzhou). In 1131 AD, Jianyan in the fifth year of his reign opted to live in Hueiji (present-day Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province).
Qufu,  The Hometown Of The Gan Family and Confucianism
Qufu, historically known as Lu County, was the capital of the State of Lu during the Spring-Autumn Warring period. It was the hometown of Confucius, the founder of Confuciuanism and also the birthplace of prominent figures such as Yanzi, Zuo Qiuming and Lu Ban, as well as Confucian culture. Qufu has exerted far-reaching influence on the Confucian cultural sphere in Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia, and is a key starting point for the development of eastern culture.
Population Concentration
From Shandong, Fujian, Jiangsu to Jiangxi; from the dynasties of Song, Yuan to Ming; the Gans in Fujian, Shandong and Zhejiang amounted to 54% of the whole Gan population in China. Another 32% lived in Jiangsu, Hunan, Jiangxi and Guangdong. The highest concentration of Gans was in Fujian at 27%.According to statistics today, there are 6 million Gans with 30,000 in Singapore, 300,000 in Malaysia and 4 million in China, of which 33% live in Hunan, Guangxi and Hubei; and 48% in Shandong, Fujian, Szechuan, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, as well as Taiwan. Hunan has the highest concentration of Gans at 12%.
Gan Clan Singapore
Credits: Story


Centre Director and Curator 馆长兼策展人
Gan Ee Bee 颜旖鋂

Researcher 研究员
Chin Vei Nyuk 陈伟玉博士

Copywriter 撰写员
Chew Mei Lin 赵美莲
Lim Huat Kiaw 林月娇
Ng Sin Yue 吴倩如

Designer 设计师
Genevieve Chia 谢美玉
Tang Kongdan 汤孔丹


Academic Advisory Board 教育顾问
Prof Yen Ching-Hwang 颜清湟教授
Prof Wong Sin Kiong 黄贤强教授

Advisor 顾问
Gan Eng Guan 颜荣源
Gan Siok Tjie 颜淑姿
Gan Seow Peng 颜少平

Donor 捐款人
Gan Cheong Or 颜章湖
Dr Gan See Khem 颜诗琴博士
The Family of Gan Kiong Pang 颜拱枫家属

Supported by 项目支持
National Heritage Board新加坡国家文物局
National Archives of Singapore 新加坡文物档案馆

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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