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Surname Zhang, the No. 3 surname in China with the largest population which takes up 7.07% in China, can be traced back to the far ancient legendary ages. It was said that Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) had a son named Hui who was much fond of astronomy, especially the study on a constellation named Hu (literal meaning: arc) Star. Hu Star has nine members; one of them looks like an arrow, the other eight ones posing like a bow. Inspired by its form, Hui invented bows and arrows, powerful weapons in hunting and fighting which made great contributions to the society then. After that, he was appointed as an official supervising the manufacture of bows and arrows and he was bestowed by the emperor a surname of “Zhang” which means a ready arrow on a bow. Zhang families lived in northern China, till some of them moved to Fujian from the central land, later to many other places, domestic and abroad. Zhang families flourished nearly everywhere in China with a great population and various branches, being distinguished for power and fame in many places. Some of them consider themselves descendants of Zhang Liang, a famous statesman in the beginning years of the Western Han Dynasty.
The memorial places and relics of Zhang families in Henan include the Cemetery of Ancestor Hui in Puyang, Tomb of Zhang Liang in Lankao, Tomb of Zhang Heng in Nanyang and the Memorial Temple of Medical Sage Zhang Zhongjing. There is a huge statue of Ancestor Hui in the Cemetery of Ancestor Hui which covers over 85 hectares in Puyang city with a monument reading “The Tomb of Hui--Ancestor of Zhang Families in China” stands in front of the grave. Also, steles which record the origin of Zhang families and many memorial stones with inscriptions of celebrities and experts can be found there, making the cemetery a holly land for Zhang families to worship their ancestors.
Zhang Heng: the famous scientist
Zhang Heng (78 - 139 A.D.), academically named Pingzi, was born in Nanyang, Henan Province. As a great astronomer in the Eastern Han Dynasty, he made great contributions to the development of Chinese astronomy. He also showed outstanding talents and vast knowledge in mathematics, geography, painting and literature.
Zhang Heng was one of the representatives of the theory of sphere-heavens who believed that the Earth is inside the heaven like a yoke in an egg. He pointed out that the Moon shines only because it reflects the light of the sun. He explained scientifically the phenomenon of lunar eclipses. He was aware of the infinity of the universe, the relationship between the moving speed of planets and the distance between those planets and the Earth.
Zhangheng observed and recorded 2,500 stars in his life. He created the first armillary sphere which could display relationships among the principal celestial circles with better exactness. He invented the first seismograph to detect and record the intensity, direction, and duration of an earthquake besides making a compass vehicle, an automatic coverage-recording vehicle and a wood bird which could record the distance of the flight.
Zhangheng left 32 works of science, philosophy and literature, among which were Lingxian and Lingxian Picture on astronomy.
To honor his achievements, both a ring hill on the Moon and the asteroid No.1802 were named “Zhangheng”.
Guo Moruo, a famous Chinese litterateur and historian of the 20th Century, commented Zhangheng as “a rare versatile talent of the world with accomplishments to be admired forever”.
Zhang Zhongjing: the Medical Sage
Zhang Zhongjing (150 – 219 A.D.), born in Nanyang of Henan Province, was a famous scholar in medicine in the late Eastern Han Dynasty, honored as the “Medical Sage”.
Being diligent and modest since quite young, Zhang Zhongjing learned from a famous doctor named Zhang Bozu at his hometown and read a lot. He inherited the diagnostics of a famous ancient doctor named Bianque and carried it forward. In practice, he created the theory of “keeping healthy”, stressing the importance of keeping fit and the resistance to diseases. By reading the medical classics of early generations for reference, collecting effective prescriptions spreading among folks and learning from experts, with checking and proving in practices, he accomplished the medical masterpiece of On Typhoid and Other Diseases. It had two parts, the first of which contained ten volumes and 22 essays on the dialectic analysis of typhoid; the second of which comprised six volumes and 25 essays on medical pandect and diseases of more than 40 sections.
On Typhoid and Other Diseases is the first medical monograph of clinical diagnosis and treatment, containing pathology, diagnostics, prescriptions and pharmaceutics, combining theories and practices together. It concluded systematically the medical theories and clinical experiences before the Han Dynasty, laying down the foundation for the Chinese medical treatment, taking up a special position in the history of Chinese medicine.
Zhang Cang: a calendarist and arithmetician
Zhang Cang (256 – 152 B.C.) was born in Yuanyang County of Henan Province in the late Warring States Period. He was once appointed an official in the Qin Dynasty but later took part in the uprising under the leadership of Liubang, the founder of the Han Dynasty. With the establishment of the Han Dynasty, Zhang Cang served the court at several positions including the post of deputy prime minister.
Being a learned scholar, Zhang Cang made great achievements in arithmetic and calendar. First, he formulated a relatively complete theory system on measuring instruments, applying arithmetic study to national economy and people’s livelihood. Second, he was the advocate of the Calendar of Zhuanxu. Third, he was the editor of a famous book named Nine Chapters on Mathematics.
Nine Chapters on Mathematics collected 246 mathematic problems, over 1,500 years earlier than similarities in Europe, influencing much on the development of mathematics in the world.