Coverage: Zhejiang, Fujian, Taiwan
As one of the early surnames, Lin originated in the Shang Dynasty from the ancestor of Bigan, a famous faithful minister of Emperor Zhou.
Bigan was the uncle of Emperor Zhou, a tyrannical, concupiscent emperor. People suffered a lot at that time. Faithful ministers either quit the job or left after expostulations failed. Bigan was the only one who stayed since he believed that one could not be called faithful if one did not point out the mistakes of his master. If it was out of fear for death, then one must not be a man of courage. To listen or not, that was the matter of the master. However, the minister must carry out his duties. Despite the threatening of being sentenced to death, he tried to rectify Emperor Zhou, staying at the court for three days and night. Out of rage, Zhou killed Bigan by taking out his heart. On knowing this, Bigan’s pregnant wife Chen fled at night to a stone cave in a suburb forest of Muye (Qi or Weihui County in Henan) and gave birth to a baby there. After emperor Zhou was killed and the Shang Dynasty was replaced by the Zhou Dynasty, Bigan’s wife and child, as the widow and the child of famous faithful Shang minister, were well treated with courteous receptions by Wuwang Emperor of the Zhou Dynasty, who bestowed the child a surname of Lin (means “forest” in Chinese) since the child named “Jian” was born in a forest. Later, the offspring of Lin Jian developed into the largest branch of Lin families, going far beyond all the other branches in members.
Bigan: the ancestor of Lin families
Bigan, born in 1092 B.C., was the 33rd generation offspring of the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi Emperor) and he was the uncle of Emperor Zhou of the Shang Dynasty. He assisted Zhou’s father with faith and effort when Zhou’s father was the emperor, which was highly praised by people. Later, Zhou inherited the royal power. Since Zhou was tyrannical and concupiscent, faithful ministers either quit or left. However, Bigan tried to rectify him by talking with him face to face for three continuous days. Zhou asked him how he dared to do so. He told him it was the benignity and the justice. Zhou said angrily: “You are a saint, aren’t you? It is said that a saint’s heart has seven holes. I’d like to check it!” Then he killed him cruelly by taking his heart out.
Bigan died in 1029 B.C. at the age of 63 and was buried in Zhaoge (now in Weihui City of Henan Province). Confucius, a famous saint in the Spring and Autumn Period, once visited his tomb and inscribed words on the gravestone. Since then, more and more people paid visits there, including Xiaowen Emperor of the Wei Dynasty whose mourning inscriptions can still be found nowadays; the Taizong Emperor of the Tang Dynasty who bestowed honorary name to him and built memorial temples and other emperors of the Song, Ming and Qing Dynasties, whose stone inscriptions are now kept in the Bigan Memorial Temple.
Since the ancient time, numerous Chinese have taken Bigan as a role model, encouraging themselves to cherish their integrity and devote their lives for the nation, including famous heroes such as Qu Yuan, Wei Zheng, Yue Fei, etc.