- People [renwu 人物]
Biographical information for people in China begins with obvious categories: name, male or female, date of birth, and date of death.
Names can prove complex. A person has a surname [xing 姓] and a personal name [ming 名] given in infancy. A person may change his or her personal name. Men also have capping names [zi 字] given when they come to adulthood. People may take on style names [hao 號] or Buddhist names. They may be granted a title during their lifetimes or given a posthumous title [shi 謚] after death. The database can record all of these designations and additional types as needed.
Precise dates of birth and death often are not available, and all we have is a period of “years of activity.” Sometimes, not even that is available: we simply know the reign period [nianhao 年號] or dynasty. In order to capture the level of precision in the data, the database allows the use of reign period information for all dates. One can give a specific year within the reign period, but one also can simply indicate “beginning,” “middle”, “end”, or “unspecified.” For analytic purposes, the database will algorithmically produce Western dates from the reign period information for birth, death, years of activity, and any other date given in the traditional Chinese nianhao designation, but it will preserve the vagueness in the nianhao coding.
- Kinship [qinshu 親屬] and the Five Mourning Grades [wufu 五服]
Kinship generally refers to marriage or blood social relations. Pre-modern Chinese society was patrilineal. Kinship was defined by nine generations descent from the great-great-grandfather through male off-spring and their spouses. This is commonly called the “nine degrees of kinship.” Parents and siblings are called “close relatives” [qinren 親人] or “family members” [jiaren 家人]. Others are called “kinfolk” or “relatives” [qinqi 親戚]. Females who have married out and their spouses are not included.
The scope of the kinship system includes directly related and collateral relatives who participate in mourning rituals. The rules of mourning specify both the duration and type of apparel appropriate for each degree of distance in mourners’ blood relationship to the deceased. They are divided into five types, the so-called “five degrees of mourning.” From the mourning apparel one can clearly distinguish the closeness or distance of the blood relationship of the mourners. Therefore, customarily only those within the “five degrees of mourning” are considered kin.
The database tracks both agnatic (one’s own clan) and affinal (those of one’s spouse) kinship information. Since it would redundant to include all information about a lineage to reappear in the record of each member of that lineage, the database stores whatever information is known about a particular individual and builds its large Kinship networks dynamically
The CBCD building-block relations for Kinship should be (but are not yet) the nine basic categories: e (ego), F (father), M (mother), B (brother), Z (sister), S (son), D (daughter), H (husband) and W (wife).
A place identifier for major aristocratic lineages. For example, the Cui’s of Boling County.
- Non-Kinship Associations
Refers to other types of hierarchical relations (teacher-student, patron-client, etc.) and—even more crucially—horizontal relations (fellow students, friends, colleagues, etc.). CDBD records these non-kinship relations for a person through the “Associations entity.”
- Social Status [shehui qufen 社會區分]
- Modes of entry into government or other careers. [ru shi tu jing 入仕途徑]
This covers all manner of entry into government, e.g., passing the civil-service examination, nepotism or the yin protection privilege.
- Offices and postings [guanli 官歷]
- Official titles [guanming 官名]
- Events [shijian 事件]
While Postings records the appointments to office, it does not record what the posting signifies: was it a promotion or a demotion? “Events” is designed to capture important events in a person’s biography. While some are directly tied to office, others are more cultural or social.
- Texts [zhushu 著述]
The scholarly and creative productivity of an individual, e.g. literary, philosophical and historical works, as well as political and bureaucratic texts, e.g. collections of memorials to the throne.