The Ancestral Hall
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The ancestral hall is a sort of memorial temple in which the ancestral spirits of the clan are honoured, and the days of their birth and death commemorated. It is also the family house of the whole clan. The clan is merely a gathering of families. Throughout the length and breadth of China villages are called after the name of the clan inhabiting them : for instance, Wangchatsuan, the village of Wang; Lichatsai, the camp of Li. In South China and Middle China especially great clans often live for centuries together, each having an illustrious and eventful history of its own. It should not, however, be inferred that the families of a clan always cluster in a village; for very often the village consists of a number of families bearing different surnames. The members of the whole clan generally number hundreds and sometimes thousands. They usually have a common ancestral temple; otherwise they have a common ancestral temple where only very remote ancestors are worshipped, while each family has its own temple of 23ancestors pertaining to its own branch. Within a clan, the different families may be rich or poor, but as a rule the families that are better off work collectively to relieve the poor families of the same clan. The clan may jointly possess property, the income from which covers the expenses of ancestral worship and the repair of graveyards.