Chang clan steeped in royal history

Zhang Qian
Zhang Qian
"The contented one, indeed is to be Chang Le (always happy)!"
Zhang Qian
Zhang Qian
Chang clan steeped in royal history

About 65 percent of the Changs reside in the northern regions like Henan, Shanxi, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Hebei provinces. 

It is estimated there are nearly 3 million people surnamed Chang in China, ranking it 87th in the nation’s populace. The number of Chang accounts for around 0.18 percent of the Chinese population.   

Many of the Chang clans were branches of the ancient Ji family. 

The nephew of King Wu of the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC) declared the surname after his reign of a state named Chang, in today’s Tengzhou in Shandong Province. Later the Chang clan of Shandong Province was founded and it became the most authentic source of the surname.  

Another branch from the Ji family came from the imperial servants of the mythical Yellow Emperor, named Chang Yi and Chang Xian. They make up the Chang clan of Henan Province.

Another group of Chang took root in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province. The surname was adopted by one of the descendants of the Kingdom Wu ruler during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) after he took reign of an area, also called Chang.

During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), yet another Chang clan also appeared along the streams of Jiangsu Province, who were offsprings of the royal family of Kingdom Chu, surnamed Mi in the Spring and Autumn Period. 

The descendent Duke Heng Si switched to the Chang surname to avoid using the taboo character “heng” as part of the emperor’s given name. 

The character “chang” retained similar meaning of “heng” as forever. 

Chang also came from officer ranks. In ancient times, there was an official post called “Chang Shi,” which ranged from secretariat to security staff alongside the emperor. Families of such officers often adopt Chang as their surnames. 

Similarly, offsprings of “Chang Ping Shu Ling,” or Changping Officer in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), who administers commodity prices, also took Chang as their surnames. 

In the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), there was a “Changhe” Office administering Islamic Musicians. 

Today, many of the Han Muslims surnamed Chang are likely descendants of Changhe officers.

About 65 percent of the Changs reside in the northern regions like Henan, Shanxi, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Hebei provinces. 

The Chinese proverb “zhizu changle,” which means “happiness comes from contentment,” is associated to a folklore character Chang Le. His name literally means “always happy.”

 Chang Le was a calligrapher in his 30s, unmarried. 

Once, he braved the winter cold to sell his work, but to no avail. He ended up begging for money on the freezing street. When Chang chanced upon a diminishing flame, he said: “I’m contented, a little heat is good enough.”

His gratitude impressed a passing-by officer. Immediately, he hired Chang as a personal tutor for his children and insisted to pay him any amount requested. Again, Chang’s only request to be well fed impressed the officer, who exclaimed “The contented one, indeed is to be Chang Le (always happy)!”

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