The classical Chinese examination system allowed creating national elites on the basis of moral qualities and learning, rather than social or geographical origin. The examinations included subjects such as xiaolian (filial respect and integrity), xiucai (outstanding abilities) and xianliang (proficiency in the classical literature). During most of the Han dynasty, xiucai could not be used because the character xiu (秀) was part of the name of the Han Emperor Wu and therefore taboo. Writers often followed a common practice during the Han dynasty and replaced xiu by the character mao (茂). In this case, xiucai would then become maocai (茂才).