Generation Names Lineup

By Ted Marr, 25th Gen

The generational names list with respective pronunciations and generation numbering are attached below.
if you are interested to locate all the individuals in a particular generation, simply click on the generation name to search and find all of them.

GenerationGeneration NamePronunciation
25鸿, 德Hong, De

In the two volumes of the original genealogy issued in 1948, there was an important page listing these 44 generational names. Until now, we always had the lineup in the simplified version of the genealogy from Tian Pei/Evelyn Edition. However, in this larger version, there is an explanation about the lineup. It reveals some rather interesting information.

Page 1.0028

Background information about the original document:

As it is written in classical Chinese, there are no punctuation marks. For ease of reading, I have added sentence/phrase separators with the short red lines. Ancient Chinese text is read from top to bottom and from right to left.

The first three characters on the far right are the title of the document. It says “Genealogical Order.” Please note these two characters in the text: second line fifth word and seventh line eighth word. For these two characters, please note two red words added to the right of the black words. In this Genealogy, they use this method to correct any misprint. The original text was printed with block letter movable type. When they discovered a misprinted word, they would make a “chop” of the corrected word and chop it next to the word in error. So, the correct text is to be read with the red word instead of the black word.

Below is the translation (bold & italicized) with added informational callouts.

When diagraming a genealogy tree, one must first draw up the generation lineup. If the generation lineup is unclear, then the “zhao mu 昭穆” would be out of order.

“Zhao mu 昭穆”: a more detailed explanation can be found on this Baidu link. During the Zhou Dynasty 1046 to 256 BCE (Confucius time), the system was set up on the correct (appropriate polity) of arranging ancestral burial positions in a cemetery or placement of honor in an ancestral temple. “Zhao 昭” means left, and “mu 穆” means right (from the perspective of the person in the middle). The progenitor is placed in the middle. All even number generations are on the zhao or left side, and all odd number generations are on the mu or right side.

For this genealogy, the Ma Family ancestors start with the Yun 允generation character. So, the four generation characters prior to Yun 允 are not to be included in the ancestral rights (polity).

Look to the left of the descriptive text paragraph, and you will see the 24-generation characters’ lineup. And then another twenty-character lineup on the next page. Count five characters down from the top of the first group; you will come across the character Yun 允. In this 1948 genealogy for the Bright Creek MAs, Yun is noted as the first generation. On file 1.0030.jpg, you will see clearly how that designation is handled.  However, in this 2021 genealogy update, we use Xiao Kuan孝宽, as generation one, Gen 1. 

From Yun 允 to Di 地, all twenty generation names are attached with a “smaller word 小字.”  This is the place to indicate the “biao zi 表字.” From the Di 地 generation onwards, twenty more characters have been added. From Hong 鸿 to Jin 金, no “smaller wards” have been attached.

Traditionally, males of rank (scholars, government officials, etc.) have several names. These are called: zi 字 (or biao zi 表字). For example hao号 is a name chosen when appointed in government officer capacity, nickname, and others. Traditionally it is inappropriate and impolite to call a person by his formal name. Most of the time, he is addressed by his zi 字. If he is an imperial officer, he is addressed with his court name and his appropriate honorific. In this genealogy, they have specified the generational names for the formal name and the generational names for the zi 字 for the first twenty-four generations. Hao 号is also usually a name that a person picks to express his view about himself and is generally established later in life. If one becomes religious, they commonly take on a Buddhist monk name as well.  

After Di 地, an additional twenty generational characters have been added, from Hong 鸿 and ending with Jin 金. Between generations Di 地and Hong 鸿, many individuals moved to other locations. Because adding the new list to connect with the old was not completed in time, the character De 德 has been introduced by some on their own.

In this revision, we could have all the De 德 change to Hong 鸿 to make everything consistent. However, many have established their school registration and residency registration. So, it is not easy to change back. A compromise is reached to allow De 德 and Hong 鸿 to be accepted as equally appropriate. But, if a person is a Hong 鸿, then he should not be a De 德 also, and vice versa. All De德 and Hong 鸿 shall use Cai 材 as the generational name for their sons. Although the two characters, De 德 and Hong 鸿, are different, they are considered the same. This shall be applied to the left zhao 昭 and right mu 穆 setup. All Ma descendants must obey this rule and should not deviate from it

Winter of the thirty-seventh year of the Republic of China.

Authored By Lu Zi

I am of the Hong 鸿 generation, and my father, Henry, is of the Di generation. So, we happen to straddle the gap. Some of our cousins do have the De name. In particular, Ben Ma’s older brothers have the De generational name. Interestingly, in the simplified version, the generational lineup did not include the alternative De in the list. So, now we know why these cousins are named De .

I have always wondered why there are twenty generational names on the extension part while there are twenty-four on the original listing. Now, we know they did not include the first four in the counting. So, twenty is the number of new generational names to match the original twenty generational names.

In Chinese historical documents, dates are always referred to in relation to the reign of the emperor. Still, in modern times, after the Qing dynasty was replaced by the Republic of China, the system of date reference remains. The first year of the Republic of China is 1911. This document was written in the thirty-seventh year of the Republic of China, which converts to  1948, and it is also the same year this genealogy edition was published.

Lu Zi was most likely a scholar and feng shui master engaged by the family to draft this generational name document.