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Tseng Guo-fan and his Family Mottos

TSENG KUO-FAN (曾国藩, A.D. 1811-1872) is the famous statesmzan and general who was chiefly responsible for the suppression of the T'ai P'ing rebellion, fighting strenously in the cause of the Manchus from 1853 to the fall of Nanking in 1864. Ennobled as Marquis and raised to the rank of Viceroy, he lived incorruptiye, and in spite of all the temptations to which a high Chinese official is exposed, died poor.

In his family letter(dated 11th year of Hsien Feng (1861)), he set out family rules which has been handed down from his grandfather, those were "Eight Character Family Motto" and "Three Disbelieves":

Eight Character Motto are 考宝早扫; 书蔬鱼猪,literally means "Examine, value, early, sweep, books, vegetables, fish, pork." These are typical traditional Chinese thoughts of "Cultivation and Reading" or "Farming and Reading to Bequeath Family Ideal." The First two character Kao actually means Sacrificing to ancestor, and Bao means "value your relationship with relatives and neighbourhood."

The "three Disbelieves" were:

Don't believe in genii of mountain, river, or tree!
Don't believe in doctors and their drugs!
Don't believe in priests of any faith!

You may feel strange why Tseng has set down the family rule to distrust doctors and their drugs. This actually was the result of very serious crisis of traditional Chinese medicine, and medical theory.

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