Central Government - Ranks and Positions

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Central Government - Ranks and Positions

Unread postby dskod1 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:07 pm

Hey guys. I wanted to take a second and post this up. A collation of information about the central government of the han times. all ranks and titles included here are only ones used before the yellow turban rebellion but rather close to the collapse of the central government. So basically before Dong Zhou or Cao Cao took over.

Feel free to post things I have missed or that you think are incorrect


All Han Officials are ranked on an arbitrary scale. Each man's place is dependent on his office position NOT his seniority. Each man's office is ranked on Shih. This originally represented not only the level of the rank but also the pay of the rank. This was abolished however and only kept as a tool for ranking offices.

10000 Shih
Fully 2000 Shih
2000 Shih
Equivalent to 2000 Shih
1000 shih
Equivalent to 1000 shih
600 shih
Equivalent to 600 shih
400 shih
Equivalent to 400 shih
300 shih
Equivalent to 300 shih
200 shih
Equivalent to 200 shih
100 shih
Equivalent to 100 shih

Positions of the Central Administration of Later (Eastern) Han Empire

Grand Tutor (Above 10000 Shih)
Chosen from among men of old age of the court that’s early demise would not be unwelcomed to the emperor. Advised Emperor on Moral Guidance. Ranked higher than the three Excellences.

Three Excellences: (1000 Shih Each)

Grand Commandant
One of the three Excellences
In addition to Military Affairs, Most of his Bureaus were concerned with General Supervision of officialdom. Also had censorial and advisory duties along with the other two Excellences

Minister over the Masses
One of the Three Excellences
Responsible for drawing up the annual budget. Held same censorial and Advisory responsibilities along with the other 2 excellences

Minister of the Works
One of the Three Excellences
Responsible for public Works such as construction ETC. Also was in charge of classifying the achievements of the local administration at the end of each year for purpose of rewards or punishments. Held same censorial and Advisory responsibilities along with the other 2 excellences

All of the three Excellences held the following Bureaus which were the organisational structure of each Ministry
Chief Clerk (1000 Shih) - Headed regular staff of the ministry
Bureaus: All bureaus were headed by Division Heads IE. Division Head of the East. East and West ranked equivalent to 400 shih all other heads ranked equivalent to 300 shih
Bureau of the East - In Charge of Ministry Expenditures
Bureau of the West - In charge of Ministry Appointment, Promotion, Demotion up to 2,000 Shih
Bureau of Households - Population registers, and the sacrifices, rituals, agriculture, and sericultures of the common people
Bureau of Memorials - Memorials and Discussions
Bureau of Statements - Ligation
Bureau of Laws - postal stations and couriers
Bureau of Command - Conscript soldiers, Convict Labourers, and transportation
Bureau of Banditry - Suppression of Bandits
Bureau of Decisions - Criminal Law
Bureau of Arms - Military Matters
Bureau of Metal - Currency, Salt and Iron I.E. The Monopolies
Bureau of Granaries - with granaries and tax grain
Bureau of the Yellow Door - Records and record keeping

The Nine Ministers (Fully 2000 Shih each)
The Nine Ministers were not directly subordinated to members of the cabinet, but subject to their censorial supervision. Each of the Nine Ministers headed an independent and, in some cases, large ministry.

The Grand Master of Ceremonies
In charge of State Rituals. He announces the official protocol in Advance, and assisted the emperor during the ceremonies. Once each month he inspected the Imperial Graves. Responsible for observatory, divination, the recording of portents and auspicious omens, the selection of auspicious days, and the academy
-Assistant to the Grand Master of the Ceremonies (Equivalent 1000 shih) In charge of ritual details and reported illegal acts committed on ancestral temples
-Prefect Grand Supplicator (600 shih) National Prayer Master
-Prefect Grand butcher (600 shih) preparing and arranging food for national sacrifices
-Prefect Grand Yu Musician (600 shih) Ritual and court music, as well as dances.
-Prefect of the Temple of the Eminent Founder (600 shih) In charge of guarding, Inspecting, and cleaning the Temple of the Eminent Founder located within Lo-yang.
-Prefect of the Temple of the Epochal Founder (600 shih) In charge of guarding, Inspecting, and cleaning the Temple of the Epochal Founder located within Lo-yang.
-Inspector of the Imperial Library (600 shih) In charge of charts and books, of standardizing ancient and current simple and compound characters, and of reconciling textual variants. IE Chief librarian of the northern and southern palaces of Lo-yang
-Prefect Grand Astrologer (600 shih) In Charge of Divination. The Most versatile and technically trained official in the ministry and, for that matter, the entire central government. In charge of drawing up the annual calendar and of memorializing it shortly before each New Year’s Day. On the first of each month informed the emperor about the calendar of that month. For state rituals, he identified days that were auspicious and days to be avoided. He kept records of portents and auspicious omens. In addition, he supervised two tests which had to be passed by those aspiring to appointment as masters of documents i.e. imperial secretaries under the privy treasurer etc. The first requirement knew 9000 characters, the second mastery of the six styles of writing.
-The Academy:
Overseen by the Grand Master of Ceremonies. Became a Confucian institution of learning in 136 B.C. It was headed by the Libationer of the Erudits (600 shih). Under him were the Erudits, one each for the recognized schools of the five classics (i.e. the book of Changes, The Books of Documents, The Books of Odes, The Book of Rites, and the spring and Autumn Annals. 600 shih each). Each time new Erudits were selected, the Grand Master of Ceremonies examined the candidates, and then reported there level of expertise to the Emperor.

The Superintendent of the Imperial Household
Responsible for security within the public parts of the palace compounds and for protecting the emperor in his excursions from the palace. In charge of certain officials who’s served the emperor with advice and criticism, and the imperial Internuncios
-Assistant to the Superintendent of the Imperial Household (Equivalent 1000 shih)
-Master of Affairs
-Master of Records
-Supervisor of the Gentlemen
-General of the Gentlemen-of-the-Household for all Purposes AND General of the Gentlemen-of-the-Household of the left AND General of the Gentlemen-of-the-Household of the right (Equivalent 2000 shih each) Duty of maintaining security within the public sections of the palace compounds. Chosen by those who had been recommended as Filially Pious and Incorrupt by the Commanderies and Kingdoms, or had been nominated by close relatives by the high officials after three years in office. Armed with lances, they served as bodyguards within the palace compounds, in particular at interior gates and doors. When the emperor left the palace, they protected the chariot. Those who proved their character ere eventually promoted to regular offices in the civil service. They Led the Three units known as the "Three Corps" which numbered from 700 to 2000
- General of the Gentlemen-of-the-Household rapid Tigers (Equivalent 2000 shih) Lead Gentlemen Rapid as Tigers, a 1500 man strong Calvary guard.
- General of the Gentlemen-of-the-Household of the Feathered Forest(Equivalent 2000 Shih) Both lead the Calvary of the Feathered Forest a Calvary guard which for imperial processions were detached to act as standard banners, ride in front, and clear the road. There Standard consisted of the tails of the wild oxen. Unit was 1700 strong
-Imperial Household Grandee (Equivalent 2000 shih) provided the emperor with advice and criticism. Could not initiate advice but only respond to imperial questions. Nothing, however, could prevent him from writing memorial in his private capacity. Condoled at the deaths of kings. The court made use of Grandee's by also sending them on tours of inspection through the provinces.
-Grand Palace Grandee (1000 shih) AS ABOVE. Condoled at the deaths of full marquises
-Grandee Remonstrants (Equivalent 800 shih) were supposed to speak up when the emperor failed in his performance. How many dared to do so is another question. Also reported on discovered plots against the throne, went on provisional inspections, and reported on unjust law-cases
-Supervisor of the Internuncious (Equivalent 1000 shih) Oversaw the internuncios who numbered just under 100 who assisted in imperial ceremonies, condoled on behalf of the emperor at the deaths of medium-level officials, and did various kind of errands for the government, in the capital, in the provinces, and even beyond the borders of the empire. In the appointment of internuncios preference was given to men with beautiful beards and loud voices.

The Commandant of the Guards
Controlled the conscripts who were stationed at the entrances to the palace compounds and also in the guard houses along the surrounding walls. These guards also patrolled within the palaces. (IE along the walls)
-Assistant to the Commandant of the Guards (equivalent 1000 shih)
-Prefect of the majors in charge of Official Carriages (600 shih) Was in charge of the guards responsible for the Gates of the Official Carriages to the northern and southern palaces of Lo-yang. Numbered presumably 200 (IE. Majors in Charge of Official Carriages)
-Prefect of the Guards of the Southern Palace (600 shih) Was in charge of guards who were stationed at every entrance to the Southern palace compounds. (IE the Garrisoned Guard) Numbered 600
-Prefect of the Guards of the Northern Palace (600 shih) Was in charge of guards who were stationed at every entrance to the Northern palace compounds. (IE the Garrisoned Guard) Numbered 500
-Captain of the Capital (600 shih) Commanded "Warriors with Swords and Lances" and was responsible for carrying out imperial arrests and interrogations which numbered 800

The Grand Coachmen
His duties all had to do with the horses: Horses for the army, Horses for the imperial stable, and various types of imperial carriages.
-Prefect of the Complete Workman Office (600 shih) In charge of manufacturing Bows, Crossbows, Swords, Armour, Seal cords, and other objects.

The Commandant of Justice
Chief Interpreter of the Law. He rules on dubious cases deferred to him. He was the chief judge in all trials conducted in the imperial prison attached to his ministry, and he participated through subordinates in some of the trials held by local administrations. He was also in charge of the standards of linear measurement.
-Director (1000 shih)
-Inspector of the Left (1000 shih)
-Referee of the left (600 shih) In charge of trials in the Imperial Prison.

The Grand Herald
In charge of visitors to the court and matters arising in such visits. When the kings of the imperial house came to the capital, he welcomed them in the suburbs. He condoled on behalf of the government at the deaths of kings, and memorialized the posthumous names of kings and full marquises. Through this he came to be responsible for the orderly inheritance of noble titles and fiefs among the kings and full marquises. Administers the receptions in the capital of foreign missions and hostages, the negotiations with foreigners, and the occasional conferring of Chinese titles. Directed the participants at the imperial ceremonies.
-Assistant to the Grand Herald (Equivalent 1000 shih)
-Prefect Grand Usher (600 shih)

The Director of the Imperial Clan
Only Appointed from among the imperial clansmen. Was in charge of the imperial relatives. Keeps a register of all people belonging to the imperial clan. If a person on the register committed a crime which warranted the punishment of "having their head shaved off" or more, i.e. hard labour or the death penalty ETC., this first had to be reported to the Director of the Imperial Clan. He placed the matter before the emperor, whose decision he then announced.
-Assistant to the Director of the Imperial Clan (Equivalent 1000 shih)
-Prefect of the Household (600 shih) Took care of Imperial Princesses within the palace
-Tutor (600 shih) tutored Imperial Clan Members
-Coachmen (600 shih) Was in charge of Carriages and Horses for Imperial Clan Members
-Chief of Private Storehouse (600 shih) Responsible for the Imperial Clans Storehouse
-Chief of the Office of Food (600 shih) in charge of food preparation for Imperial Clan Members
-Master of Records (600 shih) In charge of recording and holding records of the Imperial Clan Relatives
-Chief of the Long Lanes (600 shih) Managed female Slaves

The Grand Minister of Agriculture
In spite of his titles was the government Treasurer. He did not collect the poll and land taxes but stored them, whether in kind or in cash. Also in charge of standards for capacity measures. From his storehouses, he provided the funds needed for the upkeep of the civil service and the army. In short, The Minister of the masses drew up the budget and the Grand Minister of Agriculture paid the bill.
-Assistant to the Grand Minister of Agriculture (equivalent 1000 shih)
-Prefect of the Great Granary (600 shih) In charge of the Great Granary where tax grain was stored which had been transported to the capital from the provinces. Also kept the standards for capacity measures
-Prefect of the Officer for the Selection of Grain (600 shih) In charge of hulling and selecting grain for the imperial court, and of preparing dried provisions.

The Privy Treasurer
Serves the emperor exclusively. Was not castrated himself but many of his subordinates were eunuchs. He supervised those that performed bureaucratic duties for the emperor. He was in charge of certain intimate attendant and advisers of the emperor. Responsible for the general health and well-being of the emperor and his household.
- Palace Attendants (Equivalent to 2000 shih)
Role was to offer advice and guidance to the Emperor, and to be ready to answer sudden questions. When the Emperor went out in in legal carriages the best informed palace attendant rode with him. The others followed close behind on horse. Could only enter the imperial palace when on duty.
- Prefect Invocator (600 shih) In charge of minor sacrifices within the palace compounds
- Regular Palace Attendants (Eunuchs, Equivalent to 2000 shih)
Highest Position amongst the eunuchs. Eunuch only. Maximum number of regular palace attendants serving simultaneously set at ten. Responsible for attending to the emperor and advising him on all matters. Free to leave the palace, but, when on duty, had to sleep within its precincts.
-Prefect of the Laternal Courts (Eunuch, 600 shih)
Eunuch only. Responsible for the ladies of the harem. Appointed ladies to the harem through his subordinates
-Prefect of the Yellow Gates (Eunuch, 600 shih)
Eunuch only. Managed the various eunuchs of the inner apartments. Prefect of the yellow gates and subordinates served the emperor directly. Insured the emperor was always served by eunuchs inside and outside the palace.
-Eunuch only. Supervisor of the palace Attendants of the Yellow Gates (Eunuch, 600 shih)
The Supervisor and his staff, the "extra retinue of the palace attendants of the yellow gates", acted as imperial bodyguards, manned the gates and the doors of the inner apartments and, when the emperor left, rode on both sides of his carriage. They shared the later duty with the director of the imperial household and his subordinates.
-Junior Attendants of the Yellow Gates (Eunuchs, 600 shih)
Eunuch only. Max 20 at any one time. Served the emperor, acted as his messengers when he was inaccessible to the regular officials in the inner apartments, and were document carriers between the office of the masters of writing and the emperor. When princesses and queens were ill they made inquiries on behalf of the emperor.
-Prefect intendant of the imperial palace gardens (eunuch, 600 shih)
Eunuch only. In charge of imperial gardens, orchards, parks, lakes, lodges, and detached palaces in and near the capital.
-Palace Prefect of Standards (Eunuch Only, 600 shih) In charge of a price stabilization, whereby commodities country-wide were bought by the government when prices had fallen to low and sold when prices had risen too high

Eunuch Power:
The Later Han empire attempted to make use of the Eunuchs without granting them power but the regular palace attendants outranked all there colleagues, and, in the course of time, became the informal leaders of all eunuchs. Although this trend was strictly against the intention of the early emperors, who had decreed the regular palace attendants should have NO subordinates and consequently no influence on the lower eunuch bureaucracy, it was sanctioned by later rulers. As a result, the previously coequal eunuch offices were gradually brought under the control of the new leadership, so that a true eunuch hierarchy came into being. This was achieved by attaching eunuch agents to previously independent eunuch offices. These agents were given the title inspector and the rank of 600 shih. Inspectors may well have been attached to all major eunuch offices. Eunuch power even spread to traditional non-eunuch held offices within the ministry of the privy treasurer and beyond. As of 175 AD all palace offices were supposedly under control of the Eunuchs. The development, by which the regular palace attendants coordinated the efforts of the eunuchs and expanded their own influence, was a gradual one which reached its peak between 168 and 189 AD

Other Palace Offices:

The Staff of the Empress
Empress received a private income from 40 prefectures. The staff that served the empress exclusively. Consisted mostly of Eunuchs but not restricted to them. An Empress kept her retinue when she became the Empress Dowager. In cases where she was not the next emperor's mother, his natural mother, if alive, were given similar staff. This meant a number of coexistent mini-courts. The "Palace of Prolonged Joy" Was a reserved title for Empress Dowager and "Palace of Perpetual Joy" for the Emperor's natural mother who was not the Empress Dowager.
-Grand Prolonger of Autumn (2000 shih) - Head of the Staff of the Empress. Received orders from the empress on administration of her household, was her representative in dealings with relatives, and at audiences conducted them to and from her presence.
-Coachmen of the Empress (1000 shih) - in charge of chariots and presumably horses
-The Prefect of the Long Lanes of the Empress (600 shih) - Directed the palace maids
-The Prefect of the Private Storehouse of the Empress (600 Shih) - responsible for objects within the storehouse of the empress, and for manufacturing, mending, and washing garments and coverlets.
-The Prefect of the Internuncios of the Empress (600 shih) - Delivered the Empresses Orders
-Five Masters of Writing of the Empress (600 shih) - Responsible for Clerical Work
-The supervisor of the Extra Retinue of the Attendants of the Yellow Gate (600 shih) - Commanded the bodyguards of the empress called "The Extra Retinue of the Attendants of the Yellows Gates of the Empress" consisting of 11 men.
-The Prefect Recorder of the Empress (600 shih) - kept a diary of the emperor's cohabitations with his women.
Chief Medicines of the Empress (400 shih) - empress's personal Physician

The ladies of the harem
At its height obtained over 6000 members of which each women held one of the following three honorary titles
-Honourable Lady, Fixed Salary, held by very few members
-Beautiful Lady, No Salary only gifts, held more members than Honourable Lady
-Chosen Lady, No Salary only gifts, Held 6000 members at one point

The staff of the heir-apparent
The Heir-Apparent received a private income from 40 prefectures. Staffs were organized to personally attend to him. Served by a staff of eunuchs with unknown rank and titles.
-Junior Tutor of the Heir Apparent (2000 Shih) - Appointed when the heir apparent reached 8. Teacher of the Heir-apparent. Only distinguished scholar is chosen for the position. Head of the Staff of the Heir-Apparent.
-Grand Tutor of the Heir Apparent (Fully 2000 shih) - Appointed when the heir apparent reached 15. Teacher of the Heir-apparent. Only distinguished scholar is chosen for the position.
-The Prefect of the Household of the Heir-Apparent (1000 shih) - Responsible for the budget and for storing supplies
-The Coachmen of the Heir-Apparent (1000 shih) - In charge of horses and Carriages
-The Chief Leader of the Guard of the Heir-Apparent (equivalent to 1000 shih) - Commanded the guards at the gate leading into the place compound of the Heir Apparent.
-The chief of the Palace Patrol of the Heir-Apparent (equivalent to 1000 shih) - Responsible for patrolling the palace ground of the heir-apparent

Other Metropolitan Offices

The Bearer of the Guilded Mace (Equivalent 2000 shih)
Responsible for upholding law and order in the capital, outside the palace precincts. His staff regularly patrolled the city, and he personally inspected it three times each month. He furthermore was in charge of the arsenal and also responsible for coping with fire and floods.
Prefect of the Arsenal (600 shih) Was responsible for protection and distribution of the arsenal in the imperial city

The Court Architect (2000 shih)
Responsible for constructing and repairing imperial palace, temple, grave mounds, and funerary parks, and for planting trees along the roadside.

The Chief Commandant of Waters and Parks (Equivalent 2000 shih)
Revived only once a year for ceremonial purposes. Only a Honorary position.

The Colonel of the city Gates (Equivalent 2000 shih)
In charge of the garrisons at the city gates of the capital.

The Colonel Director of the Retainers (Equivalent 2000 shih)
Responsible for inspecting and impeaching the officials of the capital region, and was closely tied to the central government.

Officials of the Capital Territory (Lo-yang)

Governor of Ho-nan (2000 shih)
Administrator of the capital Commandery of Lo-Yang
Last edited by dskod1 on Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Central Government - Ranks and Positions

Unread postby Liu Yuante » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:59 pm

Out of curiosity, what was the original source from which this is taken?

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Re: Central Government - Ranks and Positions

Unread postby dskod1 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:19 pm

The Bureaucracy of Han Times (Cambridge Studies in Chinese History, Literature and Institutions)

Covers both western and eastern Han times

A very good book for anyone who is interested in Bureaucracy or even in the Han times. Also states many general titles that were used during peace and war, the years they were used historically.... and also it also goes over the local administration

All wording has been done in my own and in many cases the descriptions have been severely shortened for reading much more quickly..... I know it is only one source but the book itself uses many original sources to derive its results. thought I would post up these ranks and titles for anyone interested.

Was gonna post this in the SIMRTK forum but couldn't find an appropriate place so I posted it here
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Re: Central Government - Ranks and Positions

Unread postby Liu Yuante » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:32 pm

I was just interested to know - Bielenstein is definitely a very good guide to the period and I believe de Crespigny followed his naming conventions for titles, etc in the original versions of some of his texts. I tend to use more the revisions/updates de Crespigny has adopted in the last 15 years, as far as the titles and positions, so some of them were a little different from what I'm used to, which made me wonder if it might be Bielenstein that you were working from.

In any case, this is all very good information and actually is a nice quick reference. It also makes a summary of Bielenstein available to folks that have an interest in this from a scholarly angle - thanks.

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Re: Central Government - Ranks and Positions

Unread postby dskod1 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:58 pm

indeed. I will probably do one on local administration as well but this is a good summary of the titles. I also left out the really small ranks like clerks, assistants ETC.
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