Hundred Family Surnames
The Hundred Family Surnames (Chinese: 百家姓; pinyin: Bǎijiāxìng) is a classic Chinese text composed of common Chinese surnames. The book was composed in the early Song Dynasty. It originally contained 411 surnames, but was later expanded to 504. Of these, 444 are single-character surnames, and 60 are double-character surnames. About 800 names have been derived from the original ones.
In the dynasties following the Song, the Three Character Classic, the Hundred Family Surnames, and Thousand Character Classic came to be known as San Bai Qian (Three, Hundred, Thousand), from the first character in their titles. They were the almost universal introductory literary texts for students, almost exclusively boys, from elite backgrounds and even for a number of ordinary villagers. Each was available in many versions, printed cheaply, and available to all since they did not become superseded. When a student had memorized all three, he had a knowledge of roughly 2,000 characters. Since Chinese did not use an alphabet, this was an effective, though time consuming, way of giving a "crash course" in character recognition before going on to understanding texts and writing characters. 
The work is a rhyming poem in lines of eight characters. The surnames are not listed in order of commonality. According to Song dynasty scholar Wang Mingqing (王明清), the first four surnames listed represent the most important families in the empire at the time:
- 1st: Zhao (趙) is the surname of the Song Dynasty emperors.
- 2nd: Qian (錢) is the surname of the kings of Wuyue.
- 3rd: Sun (孫) is the surname of the queen of Wuyue.
- 4th: Li (李) is the surname of the kings of Southern Tang.
This text is written in traditional Chinese.
|Chinese Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- K. S. Tom.  (1989). Echoes from Old China: Life, Legends and Lore of the Middle Kingdom. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1285-9.
- Chen, Janey.  (1992). A Practical English-Chinese Pronouncing Dictionary. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-1877-0
- Rawski (1979), pp. 46-48.
- “百家姓”排列终有序 姓氏文化有何内涵？ (in Chinese). Xinhua. 2006-03-05. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
- Chen Danning (2014-09-03). 钱氏修"百家姓"将钱姓排第2位 钱王妃子姓氏靠前 (in Chinese). China News. Retrieved 2014-11-07.
- The last four-character line means "thus ends the Hundred Family Surnames." It is not intended to contain surnames.