Wen Tianxiang: A National Hero of the Southern Song Dynasty
Wen Tianxiang (文天祥,June 6, 1236 – January 9, 1283 AD), Duke of Xinguo, was a scholar-general in the last years of the Southern Song Dynasty. For his resistance to Kublai Khan's invasion of Song, and for his refusal to yield to the Yuan Dynasty despite being captured and tortured, he is a popular symbol of patriotism and righteousness in China. He is considered one of three heroes of the Song's last years, alongside Liu Xiufu and Zhang Shijie.
Wen was born in 1236 in Luling (Ji'an), Jiangxi Province during the Song Dynasty. At the age of 18 he excelled in his local examinations, and two years later participated in examinations in the capital, during which he was personally awarded first rank by the emperor. He would subsequently take up several posts in the government of the Southern Song, including being Attendant (郎官) of the Justice Ministry and Prefect of Ganzhou.
In 1278, Wen was captured by the invading Yuan armies of Kublai Khan, "offered" a Yuan post, and ordered to convince the remaining Song forces to surrender. Wen refused both and suffered for 4 years in a military prison before his execution in 1283. During this time he wrote the famous classics "Song of Righteousness" (Zhengqige), and "Passing Lingdingyang".
There are now at least six branches of the Wen family in the provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, and Hong Kong with some overseas. Local dialect pronunciations would be Man (Cantonese), Vun (Hakka), and Bun (Hokkien). The Man clan are considered one of the original founding families in the history of Hong Kong.
The well-known Ming dynasty painter and calligrapher Wen Zhengming also belonged to the Wen family. The mother of Mao Zedong was a descendant as well. The majority of Wen Tianxiang's descendants still live in mainland China.
"The Song Dynasty's Top Ranking Scholar and Prime Minister, the West River's Filial Son and Loyal Subject," is carved into the columns of the memorial's main hall.
A Man Tin Cheung Memorial Park and "Man" ancestral hall and residences (Tai Fu Tai) in San Tin is a popular historical attraction in Hong Kong.