Chao

(15th century)
   Chinese clan. This was the name of one of the leading clans of the ancient Chinese Jewish community in Kaifeng, which probably originated in Persia and reached China via India, coming by sea. The ascendancy of the clan dates back to 1423 when the physician Yen-ch’eng was honoured by the emperor and given the surname Chao. Several members of the clan achieved prominence in the 17 century.
   An outstanding member was Chao Ying-ch’eng (d. 1657) whose Hebrew name was Moses. He followed the family profession of medicine but also held a high government post as senior secretary to the board of punishments and as an assistant judge. Ying-ch’eng successfully undertook the suppression of a group of bandits, and established schools in the pacified district. In 1642. there were disastrous floods caused by the Yellow River, and Ying-ch’eng was sent to draw up a report on the situation. He contributed generously to the rebuilding of the synagogue in Kaifeng and provided a beautifully carved ark to hold the Scrolls of the Torah.
   A brother of Ying-ch’eng, Ying-tou, was a prefect in the Yunnan district. He wrote ‘A Preface to the Illustrious Way’. The titles held by the two brothers were recorded on an arch erected in 1679. Other members of the clan are known to have held army, government and judicial posts.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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