Costume dramas have become the main stream programs on TV, but many ancient official titles in the dramas are unfamiliar to ordinary audience. Here we explain some titles often seen in these dramas in the hope to help audience to better understand the dialogues.
1 太守 Prefect。战国称郡守，汉改太守，为一郡的行政最高长官。秦分三十六郡，比县大。相当于现在的省辖市市长。
太守（tài shǒu）referred to satrap which was an ancient official title in Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). It was called as 郡守（jùn shǒu）during the period of the Warring States(476-221 BC). The State of Qin unified China in 221BC and set up 36 counties across China. The land area of each county was larger than that in modern times. The satrap was the chief executive of a county during that time, which was equivalent to a mayor of a provincial city nowadays.
2 京兆尹 Beijing Mayor。西汉京畿地方行政长官。相当于北京市市长。
京兆尹(jīng zhào yǐn ) referred to the chief executive in the capital city and its environs during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). It was equivalent to the mayor of Beijing at present.
3 太尉 Defense Secretary。秦至汉均有设置，为全国军政首脑。相当于国防部长。
太尉(tài wèi) literally meant the grand commandant of the military, which was equivalent to the defense minister nowadays. The position was existed in Qin and Han dynasties (221BC-220AD).
4 越骑校尉 Garrison Commander。汉武帝时设置，禁军长官。相当于卫戍区司令员。
越骑校尉(yuè qí xiào wèi) was set up in the reign of the Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty(206 BC – 220 AD). It was in command of the imperial guards during that time, and was equivalent to the Garrison Commander.
5 廷尉 President of the Supreme Court。执掌法律、主审要案的大臣。相当于最高法院院长。
廷尉(tíng wèi) was the main judicial officer in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). It was equivalent to the president of the Supreme Court.
6 吏部尚书 Minister of Human Resource。掌管全国文武官吏考核赏罚。相当于人事部长。
吏部尚书(lì bù shàng shū) who was responsible for officials’ evaluation in ancient China, was equivalent to the Minister of the Human Resource nowadays.
7 行军总管 Frontline Commander-in-chief。统领军队出征的主将。相当于前线总指挥。
行军总管(xíng jūn zǒng guǎn) who was a chief commander to lead the army to battle, was regarded as the frontline commander-in-chief nowadays.
8 都察院御史 Minister of Supervision。古代最高监察机构。相当于监察部长。
都察院御史(dōu chá yuàn yù shǐ) was a censor in the high-level supervisory agency which was set up in ancient China. The position was equivalent to the Minister of Supervision in modern times.
9 知府 Mayor of prefecture-level city。地方行政长官，总管州、县事务。相当于地级市市长。
In ancient China, 知府(zhī fǔ) or the magistrate of a prefecture in charge of the affairs of state and county was regarded as the mayor of a prefectural-level city nowadays.
10 行人 Civil Servant of Foreign Affairs Ministry。供差遣出使。相当于外交部工作人员。
行人(xíng rén) was a civil servant of the Foreign Affairs Ministry in ancient China. It was equal to the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nowadays.
11 刺史 feudal provincial or prefectural governor。 汉武帝分全国为十三州，刺史掌管一州军政大权。相当于省（市）张兼省（市）军（分）区司令员。
During the reign of the Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), the territory was divided into 13 states. 刺史 (cì shǐ) or the prefectural governor was a head of the state with military and political power. The position was equivalent to the provincial governor and the provincial military commander at present.
12 知州 Prefect。 地方行政长官。有的州是地级市级别的，下辖几个县，也有的州约为县级。
知州(zhī zhōu)or prefect referred to a chief executive of a state in ancient China. During that time, some states were equal to the prefectural-level cities involving several counties. But some others were the same as counties.
13 知县 Magistrate of a county。地方行政长官。相当于县长。
知县(zhī xiàn) or magistrate of a county referred to the county mayor in modern times.
14 县丞 Assistant of county magistrate。 协助县令治理一县之事。相当于副县长。
县丞(xiàn chéng) referred to the assistant of county magistrate. It was equivalent to the Vice County Mayor nowadays.
15 主簿。 掌钱粮、户籍。相当于粮食局或户籍局长。
主簿(zhǔ bù) was an official title in ancient China, whose job was to manage money and grain. Nowadays it was equal to the director of the food bureau and the household registration office.