Liu Kwee Tang's Forebear and Ancestral Roots amid the Tapestry of Chinese History

Over the long tapestry of 5,000 years in Chinese History, China has witnessed several dynastic changes. Before the inception of the current People’s Republic of China from 1949, the Republican China came into being in 1912 after the republican revolution broke out on October 10, 1911; sweeping away the old order of dynastic rules of the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911), the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty (1206-1368), the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), the Song Dynasty (960-1127) and many other dynasties prior to that. 

Liu Kwee Tang’s ancestral root can be traced back to the Song dynasty, at about a thousand year ago: sometime in the 65th generation of family bearing the Weng's surname. There was then a personage named Weng Kan Tuo, a scholar bestowed with high official status in the Imperial Court (in medieval days, the title of a scholar referred to a person who was highly learned; equated to our currently a university or post-tertiary graduate).

Six Brothers’ Scholars Held High Official Posts

It was in the Song Dynasty (14th generation) that Liu Kwee Tang’s forebear, Weng Kan Tuo, domicile of Fujian province, (Putian Prefecture), China, married a maiden surnamed Tan. She bore him six sons, viz, the eldest, surname ANG, name CHU HAO, alias PAK CHEE, second son, surname KANG, name CHU KONG, alias PAK YI, third son, ANG, name CHU YIK, alias PAK CHIEN, fourth son, surname PNG, name CHU POK, alias PAK SHOON, fifth son surname KEONG, name CHU LIAN, alias PAK YORK, sixth son, surname ANG, name CHU SIEW, alias PAK YONG. All the six brothers simultaneously distinguished themselves by passing the examinations of the imperial court and was bestowed with high official titles. Their glorious accomplishment was then widely acclaimed and acknowledged, quipped as “A Dynasty full of Wengs, Six brothers call the shots".

“Strong Tree Attracts Wind, Fame Invites Jealousy”

As the saying goes: “Beautiful flowers bloom infrequently, there’s no everlasting good times”; A strong tree will attract wind and fame will invite jealousy. Disasters soon befell on the Weng's family for which there were three historic versions.

Version One: At that times, some spiteful persons, purely out of jealousy and harbouring bad motives, lodged complaints with the emperor that the Weng's family having accumulated power, prosperity, high official status and a populace amounting to almost eighty per cent of the locale would in a matter of time, pose a threat to the throne. (Contrarily to this rumor, our forebears were a loyal lot). The indecisive emperor chose to believe in the rumor set an execution order to wipe out the Weng's family. Being cognizant of this impending disaster, the other five brothers change their surnames to keep their families intact and for the sake of survival.

Version Two: During that period there was an uprisings instigated by the Hu race at the country outskirt. They were out to pursue and eliminate the six Weng's brothers' families who held high official posts. In order to protect their lives and families, they had no choice but to change their surnames and escaped from the rampage.

Version Three: The Wengs’ family were then involuntary caught in the interlude of dynasty change and the resultant restructuring of governance. Inevitably, there would be political ramification and prosecutions that engulf the innocents; a more recent testimony of this is that of the election in Philippines where innocents were sacrificed under gun shots.

Irrespective of the three versions promulgated, the underlying strand is that the brothers were forced to change their surnames so as to circumvent intents of elimination and to preserve their lives and keep their families intact for posterity.

Eldest brother changed his surname to Hong(洪), second brother to Jiang (江), third brother retained his surname as Weng (翁); thereby did not escape from the fate of death, fourth brother to Fang (方), fifth brother to Gong (龚 ) and the youngest brother to Wang (汪).

In ancient China, there were no regulations governing the adoption of surnames and therefore could be easily effected by simply changing the character denoting the surname on lanterns that were hung in the residence's living-room. With these surnames changes the six emerging surnames in terms of seniority are Hong, Jiang, Weng, Fang, Kong and Wang. This was the historic originates of Liu (six) Kwee (respectable and honourable) Tang (clans). [As a postscript, it would bear mentioning that except for the surname Weng, the other five surnames were known to exist even before the times of the Song Dynasty and their descendants had no blood relationships with the Liu Kwee Tang.]