A posthumous name is an honorary name given to royalty, nobles, and sometimes others, in East Asia after the person's death, and is used almost exclusively instead of one's personal name or other official titles during his life. The posthumous name is commonly used when naming royalty of China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.
Posthumous names in China and Vietnam were also given to honor lifetime accomplishments of many people who did not have hereditary titles, for example to successful courtiers.
In the Japanese tradition, an emperor is now regularly given a posthumous name that corresponds to the name of his reign. A non-royal deceased may be given a posthumous Buddhist name known as kaimyo, but is in practice still referred to by the living name.
A posthumous name should not be confused with the era name and temple name.
The first person named posthumously was said to be Ji Chang, named by his son Ji Fa of Zhou, as the "Civil King". But Emperor Yao is a posthumous name. All rulers of Shang Dynasty are already known only by their posthumous names, as the historical documents at the time strictly followed the rule. The use of posthumous names was stopped in the Qin Dynasty, because Qin Shi Huang proclaimed that it is disrespectful for the descendants, or "later emperors" to judge their elders, or the "prior emperors" (先帝). The practice was revived in the Han Dynasty after the demise of the Qin Empire. Posthumous names commonly made tracing linear genealogies more simplistic and kept a blood line apparent. The rule was also followed by non-Han Chinese rulers of Sixteen Kingdoms, Silla, Japan, Kingdom of Nanzhao, Liao Dynasty, Vietnam, Western Xia, Jin Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. King names of Hồng Bàng Dynasty and Mahan also followed the rule but they are thought to be later work.
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