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Baixing (Chinese: ; pinyin: bǎixìng; lit. "hundred surnames") or lao baixing (老百姓; lit. "old hundred surnames") is a term in Chinese meaning "the people", or "commoners." [1] The word Lao (Chinese:老), meaning old, is often added before "baixing" to give the term a more affectionate tone.

Chinese family names are patrilineal, passed from father to children. Chinese women, after marriage, typically retain their birth surname. Historically, however, only Chinese men possessed xìng (姓) (family name), in addition to shì(氏); the women had only the latter, and took on their husband's xìng(姓) after marriage.

Legendary origin[edit]

Thousands of years ago, along the plain of the Yellow River, there lived several large tribes, including the Huangdi tribes (Chinese: 黄帝族), Yandi tribes (Chinese: 炎帝族), Yi tribes (Chinese: 夷族) and the Jiuli Tribes (Chinese: 九黎族). After many years of tribal wars, the Huangdi tribes, Yandi tribes and the Yi tribes formed an alliance which consisted of roughly 100 tribes, hence the origin of the Baixing (Chinese: 百姓), or the "hundred surnames." The three-tribe-alliance won the war over the Jiuli Tribe, and the war captives became slaves of the alliance, hence the origin of the term Limin (Chinese: 黎民), who were formerly of the Jiuli Tribe. During the Western Zhou, Baixing came to mean "slaveowners" and Limin their slaves. Over thousands of years, the terms Baixing and Limin came to refer to the same thing, the common people.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lee, Philip (Pub. Date: June 2003). 250 Essential Chinese Characters for Everyday Use. # Publisher: Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd. pp. Page 25. ISBN 978-0-8048-3359-2.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

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