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From the Western Han dynasty to the mid-Northern Song dynasty (960-1127), the title underwent several changes in its name, before it was finally settled as "Duke Yansheng" in 1005 by Emperor Renzong of the Northern Song dynasty. Kong Zongyuan, a 46th-generation descendant of Confucius, became the first person to hold the title "Duke Yansheng". The dukes enjoyed privileges that other nobles were denied, such as the right to tax their domain in Qufu while being exempt from imperial taxes. Their dukedom had its own judicial system and the legal capacity to mete out capital punishment, although such sentences had to be ratified by the imperial court.
In 1935, the Nationalist government of the Republic of China converted the Duke Yansheng title to a political office, "Dacheng Zhisheng Xianshi Fengsi Guan" (), which simply means "Sacrificial Official to Confucius". This political office is not only hereditary, but also had the same ranking and remuneration as that of a cabinet minister in the government of the Republic of China. In 2008, with permission from the Kong family, the political office became an unpaid one which is purely ceremonial in nature. It is currently held by Kung Tsui-chang, a 79th-generation descendant of Confucius.
There are also similar political offices for the descendants of the other notable members of the Confucian school (the Four Sages), such as "Sacrificial Official to Mencius", "Sacrificial Official to Zengzi", and "Sacrificial Official to Yan Hui". In the reformation of the law in 2009, "Sacrificial Official to Mencius" and "Sacrificial Official to Zengzi" would become unpaid honorable titles as well once the incumbent officials decease.
Qin dynasty (221-206 BC) and the Western and Eastern Han dynasties (206 BC - 220 AD)
During the reign of Qin Shi Huang (r. 247-210 BC), the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty, Kong Fu (), a ninth-generation descendant of Confucius, was awarded the title "Lord Wentong of Lu" () and the appointment of shaofu ().
In 190 BC, Emperor Gao of the Han dynasty awarded the title "Lord Fengsi" (; "Lord Who Offers Sacrifices") to Kong Teng (), Kong Fu's younger brother.
During the reign of Emperor Yuan (r. 48-33 BC), Kong Ba (), a 13th-generation descendant of Confucius, was granted the title "Lord Baocheng" (). In addition, the income gained from the 800 taxable households in Kong Ba's fief were used to finance the worshipping of Confucius. Kong Ba also instructed his eldest son, Kong Fu (), to return to their ancestral home to serve as a sacrificial official to their ancestor.
The title "Marquis Yinshaojia" (?) was conferred on Kong Ji (), a 14th-generation di descendant of Confucius, by
Emperor Cheng (r. 33-7 BC). The emperor also allowed Kong Ji to perform ritual sacrifices to Cheng Tang, the first king of the Shang dynasty, and granted him the er wang san ke (?) ceremonial privilege.
During the reign of Emperor Ping (r. 1 BC - 6 AD), granted the title "Marquis Baocheng" () to Kong Jun (), a 16th-generation descendant of Confucius.
Emperor Ming (r. 58-75 AD) awarded Kong Juan (), an 18th-generation descendant of Confucius, the title "Marquis of Bao Village" ().
Emperor An (r. 106-125 AD) gave the title "Marquis of Fengsheng Village" (?) to Kong Yao (), a 19th-generation descendant of Confucius.
The title of Duke of Song and "Duke Who Continues and Honours the Yin" (?) were bestowed upon Kong An ( () by the Eastern Han dynasty because he was part of the Shang dynasty's legacy. This branch of the Confucius family was a separate branch from the line that held the title of Marquis of Fengsheng village and later Duke Yansheng. This practice was referred to as ?.
Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD) through Northern and Southern dynasties era (420-589)
During the Three Kingdoms period, the state of Cao Wei (220-265) renamed the title "Marquis Baocheng" () to "Marquis Zongsheng" ().
The Jin (265-420) and Liu Song (420-479) dynasties changed the title to "Marquis of Fengsheng Village" (?).
A fief of 100 households and the rank of Marquis who worships the sage was bestowed upon a Confucius descendant, Yan Hui's lineage had 2 of its scions and Confucius's lineage had 4 of its scions who had ranks bestowed on them in Shandong in 495 and a fief of ten households and rank of ? Grandee who venerates the sage was bestowed on Kong Sheng who was Confucius's scion in the 28th generation in 472 by Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei.
Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties
In the Sui dynasty, Emperor Wen (r. 581-604) awarded the title "Duke of Zou" () to Confucius's descendants, but Emperor Yang (r. 604-618) downgraded and renamed the title to "Marquis Shaosheng" ().
During the early Tang dynasty, the title was renamed to "Marquis Baosheng" (). In the Kaiyuan era (713-741) of the reign of Emperor Xuanzong, the emperor posthumously honoured Confucius as "Prince Wenxuan" () and promoted the "Marquis Baosheng" title to "Duke Wenxuan" ().
Duke Wenxuan Kong Renyu lived during the Later Tang dynasty.
A line in the Book of Rites had an interpretation written by Kong Yingda. Kong Yingda wrote some interpretations on the Record of Music. ? was compiled by Kong Yingda. Kong Yingda wrote a new edition of the Shijing. Confucius' scion in the 32nd generation Kong Yingda wrote interpretations of the Confucian 5 Classics called the ? Wujing zhengyi. A description was written by Kong Yingda on the Di sacrifice. Zhaomu were also mentioned by Kong.
Northern and Southern Song dynasties (960-1279)
In 1055, Emperor Renzong, changed the "Duke Wenxuan" title to "Duke Yansheng" () to avoid naming taboo associated with the posthumous names of the earlier emperors. The title "Duke Yansheng" was then awarded to Kong Zongyuan (), a 46th-generation descendant of Confucius. It was later changed to "Duke Fengsheng" () but was quickly restored back to "Duke Yansheng", and has since then been known as "Duke Yansheng".
During the wars between the Song dynasty and Jurchen-led Jin dynasty (1115-1234), the Song capital, Kaifeng, was conquered by Jin forces in 1127. Remnants of the Song dynasty retreated south and established the Southern Song dynasty, with Emperor Gaozong (r. 1127-1162) as their ruler. Kong Duanyou (), who then held the Duke Yansheng title, also moved to the south and settled in Quzhou, Zhejiang, where the southern branch of Confucius's descendants was created. Kong Duancao (), Kong Duanyou's brother, remained in Qufu, Shandong, where he called himself the "acting Duke Yansheng". Later on, the Jin dynasty recognised Kong Duancao's legitimacy. This resulted in a north-south split among the descendants of Confucius. Historians regarded the southern branch as the di (legitimate) successor to Confucius's line, while the northern branch is seen as a shu (offshoot) branch.
The Kongs in Qufu had a genealogy compiled during the Northern Song which described disciples with Confucius images. A pavilion was built by the Jin in the 1190s in the Confucius temple of Qufu over a Song dynasty era dais constructed in 1022. The dias built by the Song and modified by the Jin was depicted in the 1242 Kongshi zuting guangji genealogy written by Kong Yuancuo. The genealogy written by Kong Yuancuo contains Kong Chuan's ? Zuting zaji with Kong Gui's (scion in the 49th generation) introduction. Kongshi zuting guangji shows pictures of the Song and Jin dynasty era temple of Confucius.
Quzhou was where the Gaozong followers from the Kong family evacuated to.
The Quzhou temple is home to a rubbed Confucius portrait while the Qufu one has a tablet amade out of stone with a rubbed portrait of Yan Hui and Confcuius while the Qufu temple has another Confucius icon.
In 1134 ? Dongjia zaji was written by Kong Chuan.
In the temple in Qufu an image on a stele was set up by the scion in the 48th generation Kong Duanyou. The temple contained the smalle portrait of Yan Hui and Confucius as recorded by Kong Zonghan. A cadet branch scion in the 49th generation Kong Yu in 118 patronized the construction of the portrait on a second stele.
Kong Zong scio, a scion in the 46th generation in 1096 in the temple in Qufu installed a tablet depicting a portrait of 10 disciples with Confucius which Kong Zonghan mentioned. The portrait was included in the genealogy Kongshi zuting guangji of Kong Yuancuo. Another image was not redrawn by Kong Yuancuo by was mentioned by Kong Zongyuan, which showed all 72 disciples with Confucius.
In the Quzhou temple Kong Chuan and Kong Duanyou patronized the creation of a Confucius image.
46th generation descendant Kong Zonghan wrote in 1085 a new genealogy. Confucius portraits were spread around in Qufu by Confucius's scions. A genealogy was written in 1085 by Kong Zonghan which described disciples and Confucius images. The genealogy of Kong Yuancuo contained one of the images which also appeared in the temple in Qufu and according to Kong Chuan it was drawn by Qu Daozi.
Kongshi zuting guangji was compiled by Kong Yuancuo.
Kong Chuan's genealogy was succeeded in 1242 the publishing of the 1227 genealogy written by the Jin dynasty Duke Yansheng of the 51st generation Kong Yuancuo.
The Quzhou-based scion in the 53rd generation during the Yuan dynasty Kong Lian wrote commentary on a stele at Quzhou which said that Kong Chuan and his nephew Kong Duanyou created a stone carved image of Confucius.
Yuan dynasty (1271-1368)
From 1127 up to the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty, there were two Duke Yanshengs - one in Quzhou, Zhejiang (in the south) and the other in Qufu, Shandong (in the north). In 1233, Ögedei Khan (r. 1229-1241) granted the Duke Yansheng title to Kong Yuancuo (), a 51st-generation descendant of Confucius from the northern branch.
Kublai Khan (r. 1260-1294) originally wanted to merge the two Duke Yanshengs under the southern one by making Kong Zhu (), the southern branch's leader, the legitimate successor to the Duke Yansheng line. However, since Kong Zhu declined the offer, Kublai Khan abolished the southern Duke Yansheng title and appointed Kong Zhu as the jijiu () of the Imperial Academy. Since then, the northern branch has remained as the "legitimate" heir to the Duke Yansheng line.
In 1307, shortly after his enthronement, Külüg Khan (r. 1307-1311) awarded the posthumous honorary title "Prince Dacheng Zhisheng Wenxuan" (?) to Confucius.
During the Yuan dynasty, one of Confucius' descendants, who claimed to be one of the Duke Yansheng Kong Huan's sons, named Kong Shao , moved from China to Goryeo era Korea and established a branch of the family there after wedding a Korean woman (Jo Jin-gyeong's daughter) during Toghon Temür's rule. This branch of the family called the Gong clan of Qufu received aristocratic rank in Joseon era Korea.? (?)
The Liyang Kongs were descendants of Confucius who lived in southern China during the Yuan dynasty's final years. Kong Keqi or Kong Qi was a scion of the 55th generation. An account was written by Kong Qi on this era.
Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
In 1506, the Zhengde Emperor (r. 1505-1521) appointed Kong Yansheng (), a member of the southern branch, as a "Wujing Boshi" (?; "Professor of the Five Classics") in the Hanlin Academy. The appointment was equivalent to that of an eighth-grade official in the Ming imperial administration. Kong Yansheng's descendants were allowed to inherit the title "Wujing Boshi".
(1592-1647) Kong Yinzhi in 1609 Kong Zhencong in 1552 Kong Honggan all edited the Queli zhi genealogy.
Bi Yuan's, Li Changsen's and Fang Shouchou's (nephew of Fang Guancheng) female progeny married Kong Fanhao.
Kong Luhua (relative of the Duke Yansheng) was the second wife of Ruan Yuan.
Headgear was worn by Kong Lingyi in an official portrait.
Republic of China (1912-present)
After the 1911 Xinhai Revolution which overthrew the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, most of the nobility titles used in the imperial era were abolished. The Duke Yansheng title, however, was an exception along with the Marquis of Extended Grace and the descendants of Mencius, Zengzi, and Yan Hui. During the revolution, some Westerners were told that a Han Chinese would be installed as the emperor. The candidate was either the bearer of the Duke Yansheng title, or the holder of the title "Marquis of Extended Grace", a title granted to descendants of the imperial family of the Ming dynasty. The Duke Yansheng was proposed for replacing the Qing dynasty as Emperor by Liang Qichao.
In 1913, the Beiyang government, led by Yuan Shikai, passed a law allowing the Duke Yansheng title to be retained and held by Kong Lingyi (), a member of the northern branch. The Wujing Boshi title, on the other hand, was renamed to "Dacheng Zhisheng Xianshi Nanzong Fengsi Guan" () and held by Kong Qingyi (), a member of the southern branch.
The regent for the underage Duke Kong Te-cheng was Kong Lingjun . He was the Kong Family Mansion steward.
In 1935, the Nationalist government abolished the hereditary peerage systems of the imperial era and converted the Duke Yansheng title into a political office, "Dacheng Zhisheng Xianshi Fengsi Guan" (), which simply means "Sacrificial Official to Confucius".
After the victory of the Communists in the Chinese Civil War, Kung Te-cheng evacuated with the Nationalist government to Taiwan where the current Sacrificial Official to Confucius is based. Until 2008, the office of "Sacrificial Official to Confucius" had the same ranking and remuneration as that of a cabinet minister in the government of the Republic of China in Taiwan. On the other hand, Yan Shiyung (, the last Sacrificial Official to Yan Hui, 1903-1975) and Kung Xiangkai (, the last Dacheng Zhisheng Xianshi Nanzong Fengsi Guan, 1938-) didn't move to Taiwan, so their title was abolished after the establishment of People's Republic of China.
In 1998, the Taiwanese government demolished the office building of the sacrificial official but retained the appointment. The hostel of National Chung Hsing University along Guoguang Road in South District, Taichung is situated at the former location of the office building.
In 2008, with approval from the Kong family, Taiwan's Ministry of the Interior converted the sacrificial official appointment into an unpaid one. The office is currently held by Kung Tsui-chang (Kong Chuichang), a 79th-generation descendant of Confucius who was appointed in September 2009 after the death of his grandfather, Kung Te-cheng. The Ministry of Interior also declared that female descendants of Confucius are eligible for future appointment.
The southern branch still remained in Quzhou where they lived to this day, and the title of Confucius's descendants in Quzhou alone number 30,000. The leader of the southern branch is (Kong Xiangkai), a 75th-generation descendant of Confucius.
Traditionally, the descendants of Confucius use generation poems for their names given to them by the Ming and Qing Emperors along with the descendants of the other Four Sages. However, Yan family, one of the Four Sages and descendants of Yanyuan, didn't use the poem eventually because Yanyuan is considered to be a possible maternal cousin of Confucius, so Emperor Yingzong of Ming made another generation poem for Yan family.
Traditional Ming dynastyHanfu robes given by the Ming Emperors to the Chinese noble Dukes Yansheng descended from Confucius are still preserved in the Confucius Mansion after over five centuries.
Robes from the Qing emperors are also preserved there. The Jurchens in the Jin dynasty and Mongols in the Yuan dynasty continued to patronize and support the Confucian Duke Yansheng.
^Brunnert, I. S. (Ippolit Semenovich); Gagelstrom, V. V.; Kolesov, N. F. (Nikolai Fedorovich); Bielchenko, Andrei Terentevich; Moran, Edward Eugene. "Present day political organization of China". New York : Paragon – via Internet Archive.
^Wilson, Thomas A.. 1996. "The Ritual Formation of Confucian Orthodoxy and the Descendants of the Sage". The Journal of Asian Studies 55 (3). [Cambridge University Press, Association for Asian Studies]: 559-84. doi:10.2307/2646446. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2646446 p. 575.