Abstract

Korean genealogies are commonly read for information about individuals and lineages recorded therein. They may be read also for content, themes, and contrasts that inform the writing of the constructed ancestors. The T’aean Yi ssi descent group fared poorly in the higher civil service examinations throughout the Chosŏn period, but entered numerous members into government service through the technical specializations, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. By contrast, the first generations—which the genealogy compiler(s) placed in China from the tenth century into the early twelfth century—not only excelled at the higher civil service examinations, but also married members of the imperial family and produced daughters or descendants of some of the most famous men in Northern Song history. The social status of the first generations and their political status in the genealogy added a stature that the descent group had not achieved in the Chosŏn period.

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