The Secret of Chinese Surnames



Anyone who has a understanding of China or has made Chinese friends should know that there are many kinds of Chinese surnames, and some of them are compound surnames. Today we will learn about Chinese surname culture together.



When you mention Chinese surnames, you must not avoid “Bǎi jiā xìng”. And it is a very good Chinese enlightenment book for children.In China, children not only have to recite, but also tell the origins of some important surnames and corresponding historical celebrities.There are many different theories about the origin of this book, one of which is widely accepted is that was written in the early Northern Song Dynasty. The original collection of surnames was 411, and later added to 568.The origin of the surname mainly includes the totem of the ancestors, the name of the ancestors, the name of the fief and country, the occupation or official position, the name of the tribe, the surname changed to avoid disaster, hatred, taboo, and suspicion, and the surname bestowed by the emperor.



Among the hundred surnames, there are two noble surnames, namely Zhang and Kong, and they need not say "Miǎn guì" when introducing themselves.《通志氏族略》 said: "The noble has a clan, and the humble has a name but no clan." In ancient feudal society, Confucianism is the only respected, and Confucius, as the founder of Confucianism, not only Confucius himself was distinguished, but also his descendants received high courtesy. The "Zhang" surname is related to the Chinese mythology system. According to legend, the Jade Emperor was surnamed Zhang. There are many versions of his common name, such as Zhang Bairen and Zhang Youren.


百家姓中还有一些特别的姓氏,如:虎姓,并不读“hǔ”,而读“māo”;牟姓,在姓名中并不读“móu”,而读作“mù”;万俟姓,不读“wàn sì”,读作“mò qí”。这些常见字在姓氏中都有其标准的读法,如果我们认识这些姓氏的朋友,如果叫错了,别怪他们不理你哦,因为他们根本就不知道你是在叫他!

There are also some special surnames in the hundred family surnames, such as: the surname 虎 does not read "hǔ" but "māo"; the surname 牟 does not read "móu" but "mù"; the surname 万俟 is pronounced as "mò qí" instead of "wàn sì".These common characters have their standard pronunciation in surnames. If we know friends with these surnames, if we call them wrong, don’t blame them for ignoring you, because they don’t even know that you are calling them!



According to the survey in 2022, there are more than 6,000 surnames in use among the resident population of 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government in mainland China.The top four surnames are Wang, Li, Zhang and Liu. Now surnames are mainly divided according to region, ethnicity, culture, etc. Of course, because of the strong population mobility in today’s society, many surnames will also develop and pass on across regions. Many Chinese surnames may also develop into new ones over time after immigrating overseas.



As one of the symbols of Chinese identity, surname culture has been very important since ancient times, and some family cultures, clan cultures, and regional cultures have even evolved because of this, so basically every Chinese knows the origin and develop of their surnames.The Chinese surname marks a person's family system and blood relationship, which can be traced back to ancient times and has continued to the present. For foreigners, it is also an important entry point to understand Chinese culture.If you are a wanderer who has left your hometown, you can rely on the surname genealogy to connect with the blood of the same clan, and feel the origin of your life and the root of culture. So do you understand the connotation and culture of your surname?