Name Taboo in Ancient China

The Role of the Supernatural in Its Origin


  • Leqi Zhou Nanjing Foreign Language School
  • Kaishuo Chen Mentor, Boston College



Name taboo, Ancient China, Taboo, Belief, Supernatural


This essay introduces the name taboo (bihui) phenomenon prevalent throughout China’s imperial history. Under this convention, the names of sovereigns and a person’s ancestors were proscribed from writing and speech. Past scholarship in Chinese tends to view the phenomenon as purely secular and explore merely its political and social implications, without exploring in depth the possible influences of the beliefs about the supernatural on the behavior of those that practiced name-tabooing. In this essay, we undertake an exploration of the hypothetical motives for name tabooing rooted in the supernatural dimension. At the same time, we will also examine the inadequacies in the rationalization tendency of past scholars, and furthermore reflect on the general difficulties that modern rationalism created for the study of the past.


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How to Cite

Zhou, L., & Chen, K. (2021). Name Taboo in Ancient China: The Role of the Supernatural in Its Origin. Journal of Student Research, 10(3).



Honors Research Articles