The Pearl River Delta produced only 33 jinshi during the first 80 years of the Ming dynasty, but 390 over the next 200 years, which was also the pattern in the award of other official degrees. In the early Ming, with few examination degree holders, one could achieve honor by serving in the lijia, or as an invited guest in the community drinking ceremony. From the sixteenth century, degree holders led worship at the ancestral halls and sponsored lineage activities. The administrative transition of local government accounted for the growth of degree-holding lineages, to which the word “gentry” (xiangshen) came to be applied. Officials began to enforce standard rituals in earnest and the county governments implemented land measurement as the foundation of taxation reform. The lineage provided an opportunity to attain gentrification. Guangdong Regional Inspector Dai Jing, who drew up regulations in administrative reforms, chronicled the sixteenth-century administrative transition in a 1535 provincial gazetteer.
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