Coverage: Henan, Anhui, Beijing, Shaanxi, Shandong, Hunan, Hubei, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Taiwan, Guangdong, Southeast Asia, Europe and America
One of the stories about the origin of Cai families is that Cai families were originally surnamed Ji, as the descendants of Emperor Wenwang of the Zhou Dynasty. After the Zhou Dynasty had been established on the ruins of the Shang Dynasty, Shudu, the fifth son of the Emperor Wenwang was bestowed an enfieffment in Cai area. Hu, Shudu’s son, later ruled this land after Shudu’s being exiled. In the Spring and Autumn Period, forced by Kingdom Chu, Cai moved several times, first to Xincai of Henan, later to Zhoulai of Anhui. Kingdom Cai, with 23 generations, 24 kings and a history of over 600 years, was eliminated by Kingdom Chu in 447 B.C. Since then, their offspring scattered to other kingdoms in Hubei, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Shandong, etc. and took the name of their kingdom, Cai, as their surname.
In the Pre-Qin Period, Cai families lived mainly in Henan and Anhui, some of them moving outside as officials. In the Warring States Period, judging by people surnamed Cai in different kingdoms, we could tell that Cai families could be found in Beijing, Shaanxi, Shandong, Hunan, Hubei and Shanxi. In the Han and Jin Dynasties, some of them moved to Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Cai Pi, an official appointed by the emperor of the Han Dynasty to govern the Inner Mongolia areas, took his families there with him and their offspring lived there since then till nowadays. In Northern and Southern Dynasties, some Cai families moved to Ningxia and Gansu according to the records. In the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, some of the Cai families moved to Fujian with General Chen Yuanguang, later to Guangdong. At the end of the Tang Dynasty, in order to escape wars in central China, more of Cai families moved to south. After Zheng Chenggong took back Taiwan at the end of the Ming Dynasty, some of his underlings stayed there for land reclamation, including some Cai families. Later, more and more Cai families moved to Taiwan in large scale from Fujian and Guangdong. Some of them moved to Southeast Asia, Europe and America.
Cai Wenji: an ancient talented lady
Cai Wenji, born between 177 A.D. and 178 A.D. in Chenliuyu (now Cai Villiage of Weishi County, Henan Province), was the only girl of Caiyong, a famous scholar of the Han Dynasty. She left us with her masterpieces of Poem of Grief and Indignation (five words a sentence) and Eighteen Beats of Hujia (hujia is a reed instrument in northern China).
Being learned since quite young, Wenji was good at writing and speech, also being excellent at music. When she was 16 years old, she married a man from a distinguished family. Soon, however, her husband died of a sudden illness. In chaos of wars in the end of Eastern Han period, Wenji was captured and later forced to marry Zuo Xianwang, the leader of the South Hun. Later, she gave birth to two children. In 203 A.D., Cao Cao, the Prime Minister of the East Han Dynasty, sent costly gifts to South Hun to get her back to Han. Living in such a society of chaos with such a miserable fortune, she wrote with tears and bleeding heart the most famous masterpieces of Poem of Grief and Indignation (five words a sentence) and the Eighteen Beats of Hujia besides another one named the Poem of Grief and Indignation (seven words a sentence), which were all handed down to the present.
Poem of Grief and Indignation was a masterpiece in literature of Jian’an Age (196 - 220 A.D.). On reading such a long poem of 540 characters, readers seem to go back to the ancient period to experience by themselves various scenes. It is of much importance in the process of Chinese poem development.
Eighteen Beats of Hujia is a long masterpiece of romantic lyricism. Soaked with tears and blood, it exposed her miserable fortune with emotion like flooding and torrential waves.