|Word/Name||City of Ye, State of Chu|
|Variant(s)||Yeh, Yip, Ip, Yap, Yapp, Yeap|
Ye is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname written 葉 in traditional character or 叶 in simplified character. It was listed 257th among the Song-era Hundred Family Surnames and is the 43rd-most-common surname in China.
In Middle Chinese, Ye (葉) was pronounced Sjep (IPA: [ɕiɛp]). As late as the 11th-century Guangyun Dictionary, it was a homophone of other characters that are pronounced shè in modern Mandarin and sip in modern Cantonese.
Although Chinese make up the largest part of America's Asian and Pacific Islander population, none of the romanizations of 葉 or 叶 appeared among the 1000 most common surnames during the AD 2000 US census.
Ye means "leaf" in modern Chinese, but the name arose as a clan name referring to the city of Ye in the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of ancient China. The city gave its name to the present-day Ye County in Henan Province.
According to Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian, Yuxiong, a descendant of the Yellow Emperor and his grandson Zhuanxu, was the teacher of King Wen of Zhou. After the Zhou overthrew the Shang Dynasty, King Cheng of Zhou (reigned 1042-1021 BC) awarded Yuxiong's great-grandson Xiong Yi the fiefdom of Chu, which over the ensuing centuries developed into a major kingdom. King Zhuang of Chu (reigned 613-591 BC) was one of the Five Hegemons, the most powerful monarchs during the Spring and Autumn Period.
In 506 BC the State of Wu invaded Chu with an army commanded by King Helü, Wu Zixu and Sun Tzu. Shen Yin Shu, a great-grandson of King Zhuang and the Chu field marshal, was killed in the aftermath of the Battle of Boju.
After the war King Zhao of Chu enfeoffed Shen Yin Shu's son Shen Zhuliang with the key frontier city of Ye, in gratitude for his father's sacrifice. Shen Zhuliang subsequently put down the rebellion of Sheng, Duke of Bai, in 478 BC and restored King Hui as ruler of Chu. King Hui then granted him the titles of prime minister, marshal, and Duke of Ye (葉公).
In Zhou Dynasty China, noble families usually had two surnames: ancestral name (姓) and clan name (氏). Shen Zhuliang, from a cadet branch of the ruling house of Chu, shared the ancestral name of Mi (芈) of the Chu kings. He also inherited the clan name of Shen from his father, but his fame led some of his descendants to adopt Ye as their clan name. Later the distinction between the ancestral and clan names was abolished, and Ye became the surname of Shen Zhuliang's descendants. Shen Zhuliang, now better known as Duke of Ye, is considered the founding ancestor of the Ye surname.
List of persons with the surname
- Note: Ye is less commonly romanized "Yee" or "Ee", which are normally employed for romanizing the Cantonese pronunciation of the unrelated Chinese surname 余 (Yu).
- "廣韻査詢系統/小韻檢索/攝" (in Chinese). Guangyun Net. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
- United States Census Bureau. "Census 2000: Chinese Largest Asian Group in the United States". 4 Mar 2002. Accessed 29 Mar 2012.
- United States Census Bureau. "Genealogy Data: Frequently Occurring Surnames from Census 2000". 27 Sept 2011. Accessed 29 Mar 2012.
- "葉姓來源及郡望堂號." (Chinese)
- Sima Qian. "楚世家 (House of Chu)". Records of the Grand Historian (in Chinese). Retrieved 8 November 2011.
- "沈尹戍 [Shen Yin Shu]" (in Chinese).
- "柏舉之戰 (Battle of Boju)" (in Chinese). Ministry of Defense. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 8 November 2011.