Knowledge of Chinese Culture
About a month after birth a feast is
given,and the boy gets his "milk name," as it is called. this name clings to him
through life, as in fact all his names do after they are once bestowed. This milk name is,
if anything, more especially distinctive, as it is used by his relatives and neighbors,
and in official matters if he has no "book name." On first going to school , the
boy has another name given to him, the "book name." This name is used by his
master and schoolmates, in official matters, and in any matters connected with literature.
On marriage the young man takes still another name, his style or "great name,"
and this his father and mother and relations use as well as the milk name. On taking a
degree, on entering official life, or on having official distinction or rank conferred on
him, a man takes yet another name, known as the "official name." After death he
is know by his posthumous name in the Hall of Ancestors.
Girls are left out in the cold as far as
names are concerned. They have to be content with a milk name, a marriage name,and
nicknames. They retain their own surnames when married; that is to say, a married woman
considers her maiden surname as her own, and gives it as such; by courtesy she is
addressed by her husband's surname. In official documents her two surnames are given one
after the other,and the combination serves as her name; for example, a woman's maiden
surname is Lei, her married surname is Chen. She would then be known as Chen Lei Shi, the
Shi denoting that she belongs to the Lei family by birth.