Lao Ban

clip image002 thumb19 Lao BanThe English word "boss" is said originated from the New York City in 17th century. When the Dutch established a trading post there, boss was referred to "head of household" or "supervisor" who operated farms or engaged in trade. As time goes by, it gradually evolved into the meaning of trade leaders. In China, boss is called "lao ban", and it also has origins from history.

In ancient times, confined to the health condition, those people already fifty years old would prepare themselves coffins in advance. But gradually, it was found in the Chinese medicine industry, many doctors proficient in medicine could live more than expected, reaching the age of sixty, seventy, or even higher. When the coffin was used, the materials became the kind of "lao ban" (literally, old board) which experienced years of preparation. Therefore, those old Chinese medicine doctors were called the "lao ban" person. Later, to wish business boom and last long, the people living by business have begun to borrow the word and called each other lao ban, the word was then spread and finally left.

With regard to the origin of "Lao Ban" there is another way of saying. In the past, opera play should always paid attention to rhythmic singing. "Rhythm Board", i.e., an instrument to beat tempo, was widely used. This board is made by a kind of long wooden strips, in 6, 8, or 9, tied with thin leather belt. When playing, it issued a continuous fast percussion sound and the opera was commanded according to it. As theatrical troupe owner was undoubtedly high level of outstanding figures of the time, sophisticated in traditional Chinese music and singing, to call them "lao ban" – sophisticated in board – could not be better. Later on, the "Lao Ban" was increasingly used in various industries, since in businesses no matter large and small the "head" always mastered the best and the most. However, now the phrase of "pai ban" (literally, to slap the board, means making decision) has nothing about the board beating in the opera theater. It’s from the ancient officials shot Gavel, which was used to announce the case was closed. Now, although "lao ban" could be found everywhere in China, the one who can really "pai ban" should be still the "big boss" behind.

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One Response to Lao Ban

  1. sean says:

    That story is very interesting. I use the word “Lao ban” every day while I am at work but never knew the history of that word.

    Sometimes I think that is the best part about learning Chinese; when you look at two different Chinese characters and then can find out the meaning of the word without consulting a Chinese dictionary.

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