Posthumous name

Posthumous name

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A posthumous name is an honorary name given to royalty, nobles, and sometimes others, in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 after the person's death, and is used almost exclusively instead of one's personal name or other official titles during his life. The posthumous name is commonly used when naming royalty of China
Table of Chinese monarchs
The following list of Chinese monarchs is in no way comprehensive. From the Shang Dynasty to the Qin Dynasty, rulers usually held the title "King"...

, Korea, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, and Japan.

Posthumous names in China and Vietnam were also given to honor lifetime accomplishments of many people who did not have hereditary titles, for example to successful courtiers.

In the Japanese
Japanese funeral
A Japanese funeral A Japanese funeral A Japanese funeral (葬儀 sōgi or 葬式 sōshiki)includes a wake, the cremation of the deceased, a burial in a family grave, and a periodic memorial service. According to 2007 statistics, 99.81% of deceased Japanese are cremated...

 tradition, an emperor is now regularly given a posthumous name that corresponds to the name of his reign. A non-royal deceased may be given a posthumous Buddhist name
Dharma name
A Dharma name is a new name acquired during a Buddhist initiation ritual in Mahayana Buddhism and monk ordination in Theravada Buddhism. The name is traditionally given by a Buddhist monastic, but is also given to newly ordained monks, nuns and laity....

 known as kaimyo, but is in practice still referred to by the living name.

A posthumous name should not be confused with the era name and temple name
Temple name
Temple names are commonly used when naming most Chinese, Korean , and Vietnamese royalty. They should not be confused with era names. Compared to posthumous names, the use of temple names is more exclusive...

.

History


The first person named posthumously was said to be Ji Chang, named by his son Ji Fa of Zhou, as the "Civil King", though earlier and perhaps mythological rulers such as Emperor Yao are considered to have posthumous names. All rulers of Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 are already known only by their posthumous names, as the historical documents at the time strictly followed the rule. The use of posthumous names was stopped in the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

, because Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang , personal name Ying Zheng , was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC...

 proclaimed that it is disrespectful for the descendants, or "later emperors" to judge their elders, or the "prior emperors" (先帝). The practice was revived in the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 after the demise of the Qin Empire. Posthumous names commonly made tracing linear genealogies simpler and kept a blood line apparent. The rule was also followed by non-Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 rulers of Sixteen Kingdoms
Sixteen Kingdoms
The Sixteen Kingdoms, or less commonly the Sixteen States, were a collection of numerous short-lived sovereign states in China proper and its neighboring areas from 304 to 439 AD after the retreat of the Jin Dynasty to South China and before the establishment of the Northern Dynasties...

, Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Kingdom of Nanzhao, Liao Dynasty
Liao Dynasty
The Liao Dynasty , also known as the Khitan Empire was an empire in East Asia that ruled over the regions of Manchuria, Mongolia, and parts of northern China proper between 9071125...

, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, Western Xia
Western Xia
The Western Xia Dynasty or the Tangut Empire, was known to the Tanguts and the Tibetans as Minyak.The state existed from 1038 to 1227 AD in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, eastern Qinghai, northern Shaanxi, northeastern Xinjiang, southwest Inner Mongolia, and...

, Jin Dynasty
Jin Dynasty
Jin Dynasty may refer to:* Jin Dynasty , Chinese dynasty, subdivided into the Western and Eastern Jin periods* Later Jin Dynasty , one of the Five Dynasties during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period in China.* Jin Dynasty , a Jurchen kingdom in northern China* Later Jīn Dynasty, or...

, Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 and Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

. King names of Hồng Bàng Dynasty and Mahan also followed the rule but they are thought to be later work.

Some rulers, such as Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian , personal name Wu Zhao , often referred to as Tian Hou during the Tang Dynasty and Empress Consort Wu in later times, was the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant...

, or rebel leaders also had similar style regnal name
Regnal name
A regnal name, or reign name, is a formal name used by some monarchs and popes during their reigns. Since medieval times, monarchs have frequently chosen to use a name different from their own personal name when they inherit a throne....

s when they were alive.

Most monarchs inherited the throne and did not give bad posthumous names to the previous monarch. Some names were lengthened or changed by later monarchs. Emperor Aizong of Jin
Emperor Aizong of Jin
Emperor Aizong of Jin was emperor of the Jurchen Jin Dynasty, which ruled most of northern China in the 12th and 13th centuries. His name at birth was Wányán Shǒuxù...

 and Chongzhen Emperor
Chongzhen Emperor
The Chongzhen Emperor was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He reigned from 1627 to 1644, under an era name that means "honorable and auspicious".- Early years :...

 had different names from different people. Qin Hui (Song Dynasty)
Qin Hui (Song Dynasty)
Qin Hui or Qin Kuai was a Chancellor of the Song Dynasty in China, who is widely regarded as a traitor of the Han race for his part in the political execution of General Yue Fei...

 had a good name, was given a bad name, and the good name was later restored. After Song Dyansty few received bad names. Bad monarchs of Joseon Dynasty
Joseon Dynasty
Joseon , was a Korean state founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul...

 had no posthumous names.

It ceased in use after Khải Định, Emperor Sunjong of the Korean Empire and Wang Guowei
Wang Guowei
Wang Guowei , courtesy name Jing'an or Baiyu , was a Chinese scholar, writer and poet...

. Monarchy were abolished there. Unofficial names were given to Crown Prince Euimin
Crown Prince Euimin
Prince Imperial Yeong, the Crown Prince Uimin , also known as Yi Un, Yi Eun, Lee Eun, and Un Yi , was the 28th Head of Korean Imperial House, and the last crown prince of Korea....

 and Gu, Prince Imperial Hoeun
Gu, Prince Imperial Hoeun
Prince Yi Ku was a claimant to the throne of Korea, contested twenty-ninth head of the Korean Imperial family, and the grandson of Gojong of the Korean Joseon Dynasty....

.

Guidelines


Posthumous names can be praises (褒字) or deprecations (貶字). There are more praises than depreciations, so posthumous names are also commonly called respectful name (尊號 zūn hào) in Chinese. Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

's Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji , written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the Magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time...

outlines extensively the rules behind choosing the names. Some of those guidelines:
  • Praises
    • Those having a persistent and reasonable governance(剛強直理) are called "Martial" (武 wǔ). (This is one of the most honourable names.)
    • Those who sympathize with the people and recognize their needs (憫民會椅) are called "Civil" (文 wén). (This is one of the most honourable names.)
    • Those who respect the talented and value righteousness (尊賢貴義) are called "Reverent" (恭 gòng).
    • Those who are kind and benevolent in nature (溫柔賢善) are called "Benign" (懿 yì).
    • Those who aid the people out of righteousness (由義而濟) are called "Admirable" (景 jǐng).
    • Those who treat the people compassionately with a gentle quality (柔質慈民) are called "Compassionate" (惠 huì).
    • Those who eliminate destructions and purge cruelty (除殘去虐) are called "Tang" (湯 tāng). (Possibly named after the revered ruler Cheng Tang (成湯), the founder of the Shang Dynasty
      Shang Dynasty
      The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

      .)
    • Those who make the people feel satisfied with their policies (安民立政) are called "Constructive" (成 chéng). (Again, possibly named after Chengtang.)
    • Those who are considerate and far-sighted (果慮果遠) are called "Brilliant" (明 míng).
    • Those who preach their virtue and righteousness to the people (布德執義) are called "Majestic" (穆 mù).
    • Those who are aggressive to expand their realm (辟土服遠) are called "Exploratory" (桓 huán).
    • "Highly (respected)" (高 gāo) is particularly reserved for the founders of dynasties.

  • Deprecations
    • Those who lived short lives without much accomplishment (短折不成) are called "Passed Away Prematurely" (殤 shāng).
    • Those who have a constant twinge of depression
      Depression (mood)
      Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless...

       (often due to political plights) during their governance (在國遭憂) are called "Pitiful" (愍 mǐn).
    • Those who lose their spouses and pass away at their early age (蚤孤短折) are called "Lamentable" (哀 āi).
    • Those who are obliged to make sacrifices to their ancestors (肆行勞祀) are called "Mournful" (悼 dào).


However, most of these qualifications are subjective, repetitive, and highly stereotypical; hence the names are chosen somewhat arbitrarily. Such names are usually given by court historians, according to their good deeds or the bad ones.

To combine an emperor's temple name and posthumous name, place temple first. For example, the Shunzhi Emperor
Shunzhi Emperor
The Shunzhi Emperor was the third emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the first Qing emperor to rule over China, which he did from 1644 to 1661. "Shunzhi" was the name of his reign period...

 whose full posthumous name is detailed below, would be 世祖章皇帝, combining the last 2 characters of his temple name and the last 3 of his posthumous name, which is the form most commonly seen in old documents. A fuller description of this naming convention for royalty appears in the Chinese sovereign
Chinese sovereign
Chinese sovereign is the ruler of a particular period in ancient China. Several titles and naming schemes have been used throughout history.-Emperor Title:...

 entry. The posthumous names of some monarchs and royal members were long, for example Hongwu Emperor
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

, Nurhaci
Nurhaci
Nurhaci was an important Jurchen chieftain who rose to prominence in the late sixteenth century in what is today Northeastern China...

, Crown Prince Hyomyeong, Sunjo of Joseon
Sunjo of Joseon
Sunjo was the 23rd king of the Korean Joseon Dynasty.He was born His Royal Highness Prince Yi Gong, the 2nd son of King Jeongjo by his concubine, Lady Subin....

 and Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi
Empress Dowager Cixi1 , of the Manchu Yehenara clan, was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China for 47 years from 1861 to her death in 1908....

.

Some monarchs did not follow these guidelines. Some monarchs of Lü, Chu
Chu (state)
The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

, and Qi
Qi (Henan)
Qi was a minor feudal state that appears in Chinese history from the beginning of the Shang Dynasty until the beginning of the Warring States Period, circa 445 BCE.-History:...

 used place names. Some monarchs of Yue (state)
Yue (state)
Yue was a state in China which existed during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period , in the modern province of Zhejiang. During the Spring and Autumn Period, its capital was in Guiji , near the modern city of Shaoxing...

 had Chinese transliterated posthumous names. Some monarchs of Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

, Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

 and Baekje
Baekje
Baekje or Paekche was a kingdom located in southwest Korea. It was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla....

 had different style posthumous names. Some early Japan monarchs also had Japanese style posthumous names (和風諡号).

Emperors and Empresses


All Chinese posthumous names for rulers end in one or two of the characters
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

 for "emperor
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

", Huángdì (皇帝, i.e. emperor), which can be shortened to ; except about a dozen or so less recognized ones who have had only and no Huáng.

Starting with Emperor Xiaowen of Han
Emperor Wen of Han
Emperor Wen of Han was the fifth emperor of the Han Dynasty in China. His given name is Heng.Liu Heng was a son of Emperor Gao of Han and Consort Bo, later empress dowager...

 (more commonly "Emperor Wen"), every single Han emperor, except the first one of the Eastern Han Dynasty, has the character of "filial
Filial piety
In Confucian ideals, filial piety is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors. The Confucian classic Xiao Jing or Classic of Xiào, thought to be written around 470 BCE, has historically been the authoritative source on the Confucian tenet of xiào /...

" (孝 xiào) at the beginning of his posthumous names. "Filial" is also used in the full posthumous names of virtually all emperors and empresses of the Tang
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

, Song
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

, Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 and Qing
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 Dynasties. For Qing emperors, 孝 xiào is placed in various position in the string of characters, while those Qing empresses who were given posthumous names, 孝 xiào is always initial.

The number of characters in posthumous names was increasing. The emperors of the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 have names in between seven to eighteen characters. Those in the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 have twenty-one characters. For instance, that of the Shunzhi Emperor
Shunzhi Emperor
The Shunzhi Emperor was the third emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the first Qing emperor to rule over China, which he did from 1644 to 1661. "Shunzhi" was the name of his reign period...

 was "The Emperor of Order who Observes the Heavenly Rituals with a Solemn Fate, Destined to Unify, Establishes with Extreme Talented Insights, Admires the Arts, Manifests the Might, with Great Virtue and Vast Achievement, Reaches Humanity, Purely Filial" (體天隆運定統建極英睿欽文顯武大德弘功至仁純孝章皇帝, : tǐ tiān lóng yùn dìng tǒng jiàn jí yīng ruì qīn wén xiǎn wǔ dà dé hóng gōng zhì rén chún xiào zhāng huáng dì).

The woman
Woman
A woman , pl: women is a female human. The term woman is usually reserved for an adult, with the term girl being the usual term for a female child or adolescent...

 with the longest posthumous name is Empress Cixi, who is "The Empress who is Admirably Filial, Initiates Kindness, with Blessed Health, Manifests Much Contentment, Solemn Sincerity, with Longevity, Provides Admiration Prosperously, Reveal Adoration, Prosperous with a Merry Heaven, with a Holy Appearance" (孝欽慈禧端佑康頤昭豫莊誠壽恭欽獻崇熙配天興聖顯皇后 xiào qīn cí xǐ duān yòu kāng yí zhāo yù zhuāng chéng shòu gōng qīn xiàn chóng xī pèi tiān xīng shèng xiǎn huáng hòu), or 孝欽顯皇后 for short.

Royal Family


According to the noble system since the Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

, the immediate family members of the Emperor were given the titles of Kings (or Princes), Dukes, Earls, etc., with or without actual control over a region of land. After their death, they would be referred to by the same title, with the posthumous name (usually one character) inserted in the middle. The characters used are mostly the same ones used for emperors, with the same denotations as described above. For example, Prince Gong of the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 was posthumously named Zhong (忠), and thus is referred to as Prince Gongzhong (恭忠親王); Prince Chun
Yixuan, 1st Prince Chun
Yixuan, 1st Prince Chun was a prince of the Qing Dynasty, the last reigning dynasty of China. He was the father of the dynasty's penultimate emperor, the Guangxu Emperor, and the paternal grandfather of China's last emperor, Puyi.-Birth and early life:Aisin Gioro Yi Xuan was born a son of the...

 was posthumous named Xian (賢), hence is referred Prince Chunxian (醇賢親王).

Officials


It was also common for persons with no hereditary titles, especially accomplished scholar-officials or ministers, to be given posthumous names by the imperial court. The characters used are mostly the same ones used for emperors, with the same denotations as described above. The length, however, was restricted to one or two characters. The posthumous name is sometimes rendered canonization
Canonization
Canonization is the act by which a Christian church declares a deceased person to be a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the canon, or list, of recognized saints. Originally, individuals were recognized as saints without any formal process...

 in English, for the scholar-official to Confucianism is analogous to the saint in the Catholic Church, though the process is not nearly as long. See List of Posthumous Names for some examples.

Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

 has been given long posthumous names in almost every major dynasty. One of the most commonly used was Zhìshèngxiānshī 至聖先師.

Sometimes a person is given a posthumous name not by the court, but by his own family or disciples. Such names are private posthumous names (Sĩshì, 私諡). For example, Tao Qian
Tao Qian
Tao Qian , better known as Tao Yuanming , was a Chinese poet. Born in modern Jiujiang, Jiangxi, he was one of the most influential pre-Tang Dynasty Chinese poets....

 was given Sishi Jìngjié 靖節.

Japanese emperor


The posthumous names of Japanese emperors are called teigō (帝号, lit. emperor names). In addition to the appellation Ten'nō (天皇, lit. heavenly sovereign, usually translated as Emperor) that is a part of all Japanese emperors' posthumous name, most consist of two kanji
Kanji
Kanji are the adopted logographic Chinese characters hanzi that are used in the modern Japanese writing system along with hiragana , katakana , Indo Arabic numerals, and the occasional use of the Latin alphabet...

 characters, although a few consist of three. Some names are given several generations later—this is the case for Emperor Jimmu
Emperor Jimmu
was the first Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. He is also known as Kamuyamato Iwarebiko and personally as Wakamikenu no Mikoto or Sano no Mikoto....

 and Emperor Antoku
Emperor Antoku
Emperor Antoku was the 81st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1180 through 1185. During this time, the imperial family was involved in a bitter struggle between warring clans...

, for example. Others are given immediately after death, like that of Emperor Mommu
Emperor Mommu
was the 42nd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Mommu's reign spanned the years from 697 through 707.-Traditional narrative:Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name was Karu-shinnō....

.

Many have Chinese-style names, for example:
  • Emperor Jimmu
    Emperor Jimmu
    was the first Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. He is also known as Kamuyamato Iwarebiko and personally as Wakamikenu no Mikoto or Sano no Mikoto....

     (神武天皇 Jinmu Ten'nō, lit. Divine Might)
  • Emperor Nintoku
    Emperor Nintoku
    was the 16th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.No firm dates can be assigned to this emperor's life or reign, but he is conventionally considered to have reigned from 313–399.-Legendary narrative:...

     (仁徳天皇 Nintoku Ten'nō, lit. Humane Virtue)
  • Emperor Ōjin
    Emperor Ojin
    , also known as Homutawake or , was the 15th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.No firm dates can be assigned to this emperor's life or reign, but he is conventionally considered to have reigned from 270 to 310....

     (応神天皇 Ōjin Ten'nō, lit. Answering the Gods)


Some have Japanese-style names. For example:
  • those who were named after the place where the emperor was born, lived or frequented:
    • Emperor Saga
      Emperor Saga
      was the 52nd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Saga's reign spanned the years from 809 through 823.-Traditional narrative:...

       (嵯峨天皇 Saga Ten'nō), named after a palace
      Palace
      A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

       (院 in)
    • Emperor Ichijō
      Emperor Ichijo
      was the 66th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Ichijō's reign spanned the years from 986 to 1011.-Traditional narrative:Before he ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name was Kanehito-shinnō....

       (一条天皇 Ichijō Ten'nō), named after an official residence (邸 tei)
    • Emperor Kōmyō
      Emperor Komyo
      was the 2nd of the Ashikaga Pretenders, although he was actually the first to be supported by the Ashikaga Bakufu. According to pre-Meiji scholars, his reign spanned the years from 1336 through 1348.-Genealogy:...

       (光明天皇 Kōmyō Ten'nō), named after a temple
      Temple
      A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

    • Emperor Higashiyama
      Emperor Higashiyama
      was the 113th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Higashiyama's reign spanned the years from 1687 through 1709.-Genealogy:...

       (東山天皇 Higashiyama Ten'nō), named after a hill
      Hill
      A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills often have a distinct summit, although in areas with scarp/dip topography a hill may refer to a particular section of flat terrain without a massive summit A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills...

  • those who were named after an emperor whose admirable characteristics resemble those of an earlier one by adding Go (後, lit. latter) as a prefix to the earlier emperor's name:
    • Emperor Go-Ichijō
      Emperor Go-Ichijo
      was the 68th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Go-Ichijō's reign spanned the years from 1016 through 1036.This 11th century sovereign was named after Emperor Ichijō and go- , translates literally as "later;" and thus, he is sometimes called the "Later Emperor Ichijō"...

        (後一条天皇 Go-Ichijō Ten'nō)
    • Emperor Go-Daigo
      Emperor Go-Daigo
      Emperor Go-Daigo was the 96th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession....

       (後醍醐天皇 Go-Daigo Ten'nō)
    • Empress Go-Sakuramachi
      Empress Go-Sakuramachi
      was the 117th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Go-Sakuramachi's reign spanned the years from 1762 through 1771....

       (後桜町天皇 Go-Sakuramachi Ten'nō)
  • those who were named by combining the characters from two previous emperors' names:
    • Empress Gemmei
      Empress Gemmei
      , also known as Empress Genmyō, was the 43rd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Gemmei's reign spanned the years 707 through 715....

       (元明天皇 Genmei Ten'nō) + Empress Genshō
      Empress Gensho
      was the 44th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Genshō's reign spanned the years 715 through 724.In the history of Japan, Genshō was the fifth of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The four female monarchs before Genshō were: Suiko, Kōgyoku/Saimei,...

       (元正天皇 Genshō Ten'nō) = Empress Meishō
      Empress Meisho
      was the 109th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Meishō's reign spanned the years from 1629 to 1643.In the history of Japan, Meishō was the seventh of eight women to become empress regnant. The six female monarchs who reigned before Meishō-tennō were Suiko, ...

       (明正天皇 Meishō Ten'nō)
    • Empress Shōtoku
      Empress Koken
      , also known as , was the 46th and the 48th emperor of Japan respectively, according to the traditional order of succession. Empress Kōken first reigned from 749 to 758, then she reascended the throne as Empress Shōtoku from 765 until her death in 770....

       (称徳天皇 Shōtoku Ten'nō) + Emperor nin
      Emperor Konin
      was the 49th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Kōnin's reign lasted from 770 to 781.-Traditional narrative:The personal name of Emperor Kōnin was given was As a son of Imperial Prince Shiki and a grandson of Emperor Tenji., his formal style was Prince Shirakabe...

       (光仁天皇 Kōnin Ten'nō) = Emperor Shōkō
      Emperor Shoko
      Emperor Shōkō was the 101st emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1412 through 1428.-Genealogy:...

       (称光天皇 Shōkō Ten'nō)


Since the death of Emperor Meiji
Emperor Meiji
The or was the 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death...

 (明治天皇 Meiji Ten'nō) in 1912, the posthumous name of an emperor has always been the name of his era
Japanese era name
The Japanese era calendar scheme is a common calendar scheme used in Japan, which identifies a year by the combination of the and the year number within the era...

. For example, after his death Hirohito
Hirohito
, posthumously in Japan officially called Emperor Shōwa or , was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order, reigning from December 25, 1926, until his death in 1989. Although better known outside of Japan by his personal name Hirohito, in Japan he is now referred to...

 (by which he is usually called outside Japan) was formally renamed Emperor Shōwa (昭和天皇 Shōwa Ten'nō) after his era
Showa period
The , or Shōwa era, is the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of the Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito, from December 25, 1926 through January 7, 1989.The Shōwa period was longer than the reign of any previous Japanese emperor...

; Japanese now refer to him by only that name. Hirohito was his given name; most Japanese never refer to their emperors by their given names, as it is considered disrespectful.

See also

  • Name
    Name
    A name is a word or term used for identification. Names can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. A personal name identifies a specific unique and identifiable individual person, and may or may not include a middle name...

  • Regnal name
    Regnal name
    A regnal name, or reign name, is a formal name used by some monarchs and popes during their reigns. Since medieval times, monarchs have frequently chosen to use a name different from their own personal name when they inherit a throne....

  • Chinese name
    Chinese name
    Personal names in Chinese culture follow a number of conventions different from those of personal names in Western cultures. Most noticeably, a Chinese name is written with the family name first and the given name next, therefore "John-Paul Smith" as a Chinese name would be "Smith John-Paul"...

  • Emperor of China
    Emperor of China
    The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

  • Japanese name
    Japanese name
    in modern times usually consist of a family name , followed by a given name. "Middle names" are not generally used.Japanese names are usually written in kanji, which are characters of usually Chinese origin in Japanese pronunciation...

  • Emperor of Japan
    Emperor of Japan
    The Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest...

  • Korean name
    Korean name
    A Korean name consists of a family name followed by a given name, as used by the Korean people in both North Korea and South Korea. In the Korean language, 'ireum' or 'seong-myeong' usually refers to the family name and given name together...

  • List of monarchs of Korea
  • Vietnamese name
    Vietnamese name
    Vietnamese names generally consist of three parts: a family name, a middle name, and a given name, used in that order. The "family name first" order follows the system of Chinese names and is common throughout the Sinosphere , but is different from Chinese, Korean, and Japanese names in having a...

  • Retroactive nomenclature
    Retroactive nomenclature
    Retroactive nomenclature is the telling of the earlier history of a person, place or thing while referring to said person, place or thing by a name that came into use at a later date.-Names:...

  • Taboo against naming the dead
    Taboo against naming the dead
    The taboo against naming the dead is a kind of taboo on the dead whereby the name of a recently deceased person, and any other words similar to it in sound, may not be uttered...