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Chinese Surname



China’s surname tradition and history is as long as the history of China. The children in the old days began their elementary education from reciting the book named Hundred Family Name. It was the must in the old days. Why did the ancient educators ask the pupils to recite the surnames at the beginning of their education?  The reason is that the government or the society wanted them to remember who they were, where they come from and what they could do.



In fact, the ancient society of China was operated by the ideological core of family conception. In a word, China is a big family. It has its own family tree. Different surnames represent the different limbs of the family tree. The emperor is the leader of this great family. In China’s ancient books, the definition or meaning of country and family in depth were quite similar. There is a saying in China like this: “The people with the same surname all round the world are coming from the same family”. Besides, if you were lucky that you were presented the Emperor’s surname by the Emperor in the old era, you would have the superiority and superpower from the Emperor. It is a big honor to your family.


In China, there are more than 14000 family names at present. Exactly, the family in China is generally comprised of many small families. If this is the big family, there will be perhaps hundreds of small families in it! In family, there are also many rites for reminding the members of remembering family history, ancestors, regulations, honors or humiliations to encourage them to work hard for family. So in China, The relationship among the people is sisterhood and brotherhood, and that is why China in the past over 5000 years, abruptions has not happened. 

When China’s people meet each other for the first time, they usually ask each other what are their surnames. If they have the same surname, they will feel happier because they think they come from the same family. The surnames in China occupying the largest population are Li, Wang, Zhou, Zhang, Zhu, Zhao and so on. The surname in China has become the bond of Chinese people’s unification and agglomeration. Generally, the older you are, the thirstier you want to come back to your family. So it is natural that more and more overseas Chinese are totally willing to donate for restoring their family trees and family records. They are searching for their roots and cradles.  
In Japan, the family names are lack of history and tradition and lose its function of marking the difference of families. They family names are from locations of their family such as Songxia, Jingshang, Tianzhong. In Britain, the main origin of family names is directly from the given name. The history of surname in Europe is also long and colorful.


In China, especially in the old days, the women did not have their own family name. They mostly followed their husbands’ family name. In the modern times, they often have two surnames, one is their own family name, and the other is their husbands’ family name. In particular, in Hongkong, Taiwan and Macao, Singapore even in some south-Asia countries, the women are strictly following this rule. In general, Chinese people’s name is comprised of three characters, while the women’s name may have four characters. For example, a world-renowned China’s female painter named Panzhang Yuliang. Pan is her husband’s family name, and Zhang is her own family name.








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