年号 – Chinese philosophy and culture

niánhào 年号

Reign Title

中国古代用来纪年的一种名号,也可用来表示年份。一般由君主发起。新帝王即位后,为了与上一任帝王相区别,都要改元(更改年号)以重新纪年。年号的真正确立始于汉武帝刘彻(前156—前87),他首创年号“建元”(前140—前135),此后形成制度。帝王在位期间如遇有祥瑞或重大事情,常更改年号。一个皇帝所用年号少则一个,多则十几个。人们把这记录年代的起始之年称作“纪元”,改换年号称作“改元”。1912年中华民国成立后,废除年号,改用民国纪年。1949年中华人民共和国成立后,采用西方公元纪年。受古代中国影响,朝鲜、日本、越南也先后采用年号制度,日本至今仍在沿用。

This term refers to the name of a period given by the ruling emperor to indicate and record the years of his period of rule in ancient China. When a new emperor ascended the throne, he would replace the reign title of his predecessor with a new one so as to mark the beginning of a new era. This practice started by Liu Che (156-87 BC), Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. He called his reign jian yuan (建元, 140-135 BC). Later on, this practice became a rule. An emperor might also change his reign title if he happened to see something that he believed to be extremely auspicious or in case of an event of great significance. During his reign, an emperor might use one title all through his reign or change it as many as a dozen times. People called the first year of a reign ji yuan (纪元). If the emperor changed his reign title in a certain year, it was called gai yuan (改元). When the Republic of China was founded in 1912, it abolished the reign title practice and began to record the time as the first year of the Republic. The People’s Republic of China, established in 1949, adopted the Christian calendar. Influenced by ancient China, Korea and Vietnam used to have reign titles too. Japan still uses reign title to this day.

引例 Citation:

◎孝景以前即位,以一、二数年,至其终。武帝即位,初有年号,改元以建元为始。(张守节《史记正义》)

(汉景帝之前的皇帝即位,都是用元年、二年纪年直至皇帝去世。到汉武帝即位以后,开始设立年号,改为以“建元”作为纪年的开始。)

Before the reign of Emperor Jing of the Han Dynasty, all emperors denoted the years of their reigns numerically – year one, year two and so on until the end of their lives. When Emperor Wu took the throne, he began to use reign names to designate periods during his reign. He entitled the first period of his reign as jian yuan. (Zhang Shoujie: Annotations on the Records of the Historian)

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