Coverage: Henan, Ningxia, Gansu, Guangxi, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Fujian, Taiwan, Singapore
The outstanding litterateur of Bai families is Bai Juyi, a great poet in the middle Tang Dynasty who was also a high official in the court, as the Minister of Law. He was an active leader of New Yuefu (a realistic style for poems) campaign at the stage of literature. In his opinion, essays were written to reflect the era and poems were composed to reflect the events. Therefore, his poems were called “historical poems”. Besides Bai Juyi, there were lots of other celebrities surnamed Bai in each dynasty, incluing Baigui, a theorist on trades; another Baigui, an expert on irrigation and water conservancy; Bai Yuju, a leader of an uprising army of tens of thousands people; Bai Xingjian (Bai Juyi’s brother), a litterateur; Bai Minzong, a Prime Minister in the period of Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty; Baipu, one of the four opera composer of the Yuan Dynasty; Bai Buxin, a general of an uprising army at the end of the Yuan Dynasty; Baiying, another expert on water conservancy in the Ming Dynasty; Bai Zhuntai, a statesman of reputation in the Qing Dynasty; Bailang, the leader of a revolt, Bai Yukun, a geographer; Bai Chongxi, the head of Guangxi warlords of Kuomintang, in modern times, etc.
As far as the population is concerned, Bai ranks No.73 among the Chinese surnames at present, not only in people of Han nationality but also among minorities such as Hui and Mongolia.
Bai Juyi: a realistic poet
Bai Juyi (772 – 846 A.D.), with the academic name of Letian, was born in Xinzheng of Henan Province, also called the Xiangshan Hermit. Being a great realistic poet, he left us immortal sentences like “we sympathize with each other, though as strangers; for we are both lost feather, blown to the end of the earth.”
Poems of Bai Juyi reflected the major problems of the middle Tang Dynasty, especially the dark side of the society and sufferings of people. His unrestrained radical words broke through the poem tradition of being “gentle”, standing out among those ancient poems of political criticism. His poems spread widely, from the royal court to the folk, from Xinjiang to Korea and Japan, having much influence over the literature of later generations, inspiring lots of great litterateurs including Su Shi, Lu You, Huang Zunxian and so on.