Temple names

Publié le par Tiger LEE

Temple names (廟號 or less commonly 庙號 Pinyin: miào hào; 묘호 in Korean: Myoho), are commonly used when naming most Chinese (under Unified China Han, Jin, Sui? Tang, Song, Liao, Jin, Yüan, Ming and Qing dynasties), certain Korean rulers (under Koryo and Choson dynasties) and certain Vietnamese rulers (under Lê, Ly, Tran dynaties) . When compared to posthumous names, the use of temple names is more exclusive. Both titles were given after death to an emperor or king, but unlike the elaborate posthumous name, a temple name always consists of only two characters:

  1. 1) an adjective: chosen to reflect the circumstances of the emperor's reign (such as "Martial" or "Lamentable"). The vocabulary overlap with that of posthumous titles' adjectives, but for one emperor, the temple name's adjective character usually does not repeat as one of the many adjective characters in his posthumous name. The usual exception is "Filial". The founders are almost always either "High" (高) or "Grand" (太).
  2. 2) "emperor": either zŭ (祖) or zōng (宗).
    • Zu ("forefather") implies a progenitor, either a founder of a dynasty or a new line within an existing one. The equivalent in Korean is jo (조)
    • Zong ("ancestor") is used in all other rulers. It is jong (종) in Korean.

The name "temple" refers to the "grand temple" (太廟), also called "great temple" (大廟) or "ancestral temple" (祖廟), where crown princes and other royalties gathered to worship their ancestors. On the ancestral tablets in the grand temple, it is the ruler's temple names that are written there.

Temple names were assigned sporadically since the Han Dynasty and regularly only since the Tang Dynasty. Some Han emperors even had their temple names permanently removed by their descendents in 190. It is the usual way to refer to the emperors from the Tang Dynasty up to (but not including) the Ming Dynasty. For the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty (from 1368 onward), era names were used instead.

In Korea, temple names are used to refer to kings of the early Goryeo Dynasty (until 1274), and kings and emperors of the Joseon Dynasty. For the Korean Empire (1897-1910), era names should be used, but the temple names are often used instead.

A fuller description of this naming convention is given in the Chinese sovereign entry. For details on the use of temple names in Korea, see Rulers of Korea.

   Chinese Korean   Vietnamese
 The Founding Emperor


Tai Zu


Tae Jo

 Thái Tổ
 Saintly Emperor      Thánh Tông
 the Previous Emperor      Tiên Hoàng
 The Highest Father Emperor      Thái Thượng Hoàng

Sources :



Good circumstances of the emperor's reign:

ch. 世祖, py. shi4 zu3, wg. shih-tsu, literary meaning: "genesis progenitor"

武 (py. wu3), literary meaning: "martial"

中宗, py. Zhōngzōng, literary meaning: "middle ancestor"

元, py. Yuán, literary meaning: "original"

肃祖, py. Sùzŭ, literary meaning: "solemn progenitor" or 肃宗, py. Sùzōng, literary meaning: "solemn ancestor"

明, py. Míng, literary meaning: "brilliant"

显宗, py. Xiănzōng, literary meaning: "illustrious ancestor"

成, py. Chéng, literary meaning: "successful" or "established"

Neutral circumstances of the emperor's reign:

惠 (py. hùi), literary meaning: "benevolent"

康, py. Kāng, literary meaning: "prosperous"

Bad circumstances of the emperor's reign:

懷 (py. Huái), literary meaning: "reminiscent" or "dying young"

愍 (py. Mĭn), literary meaning: "pitiful"

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