Definitions for yamenˈyɑ mən
This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word yamen
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
(in the Chinese Empire) the residence or office of a public official.
Origin of yamen:
1820–30; < Chin yámen=yá office +mén gate
A residence of an official of the Chinese Empire.
A yamen is any local bureaucrat's, or mandarin's, office and residence of the Chinese Empire. The term has been widely used in China for centuries, but appeared in English during the Qing Dynasty. Within the yamen, the bureaucrat administered the government business of the town or region. Typical responsibilities of the bureaucrat includes local finance, capital works, judging of civil and criminal cases, and issuing decrees and policies. Typically, the bureaucrat and his immediate family would live in a residence attached to the yamen. This was especially so during the Qing dynasty, when imperial law forbade a person from taking government office in his native province. Yamen varied greatly in size depending on the level of government they administered, and the seniority of the bureaucrat's office. However, yamen at a local level typically had similar features: a front gate, a courtyard and a hall; offices, prison cells and store rooms; and residences for the bureaucrat, his family and his staff. At the provincial level and above, specialisation among officials occurred to a greater extent. For example, the three chief officials of a province controlled the legislative and executive, the judicial, and the military affairs of the province or region. Their yamen would accordingly be specialised according to the functions of the office.
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