Temple names are commonly
used when naming most Chinese, Korean (Goryeo and Joseon periods), and Vietnamese (such dynasties as Tran, Ly, and
They should not be
confused with era names
. Compared to
, the use of temple
names is more exclusive. Both titles were given after death to an
emperor or king, but unlike the often elaborate posthumous name, a
temple name always consists of only two character
- an adjective: chosen to reflect the circumstances of the
emperor's reign (such as "Martial" or "Lamentable"). The vocabulary
overlap with that of posthumous titles' adjectives, but for one
emperor, the temple name's adjective character usually does not
repeat as one of the many adjective characters in his posthumous
name. The usual exception is "Filial". The founders are almost
always either "High" (高) or "Grand" (太).
- "emperor": either zǔ (祖) or zōng (宗).
- Zu ("forefather") implies a progenitor, either a
founder of a dynasty or a new line within an existing one. The
equivalent in Korean is
jo (조), and tổ in Vietnamese
- Zong ("ancestor") is used in all other rulers. It is
jong (종) in Korean, and tông in Vietnamese.
The "temple" in "temple name" refers to the "grand temple" (太廟),
also called "great temple" (大廟) or "ancestral temple" (祖廟), where
and other royalty
gathered to worship their ancestors. The ancestral tablets in the
grand temple recorded the temple names of the rulers.
Temple names were assigned sporadically from the Han Dynasty and
regularly from the Tang Dynasty
Han emperors had their temple names permanently removed by their
descendants in 190. They are the usual way to refer to emperors
from the Tang Dynasty up to (but not
including) the Ming
Dynasty. For the Ming Dynasty and Qing
Dynasty (from 1368), era names were
temple names are used to refer to kings of the early Goryeo (until
1274), and kings and emperors of the Joseon Dynasty. For the Korean Empire (1897-1910), era names should be used, but the
temple names are often used instead.
Vietnam, most rulers are known by their temple names, with the
exception of Nguyen and Tay Son Dynasty rulers, who are known by
their era names.