Hundred Family Surnames

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Hundred Family Surnames
Chinese百家姓
Hanyu PinyinBǎijiā Xìng
Hundred Family Surnames poem written in Chinese characters and Phagspa script, from Shilin Guangji written by Chen Yuanjing in the Yuan dynasty

The Hundred Family Surnames (Chinese: 百家姓), commonly known as Bai Jia Xing,[1] also translated as Hundreds of Chinese Surnames,[2] is a classic Chinese text composed of common Chinese surnames. An unknown author compiled the book during the Song dynasty (960–1279).[3] The book lists 507 surnames.[3] Of these, 441 are single-character surnames and 66 are double-character surnames.[3] About 800 names have been derived from the original ones.[4]

In the dynasties following the Song, the 13th-century Three Character Classic, the Hundred Family Surnames, and the 6th-century Thousand Character Classic came to be known as San Bai Qian (Three, Hundred, Thousand), from the first character in their titles. They served as instructional books for children,[5] becoming the almost universal introductory literary texts for students (almost exclusively boys) from elite backgrounds and even for a number of ordinary villagers. Each text was available in many versions, printed cheaply and available to all since they did not become superseded.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.[6]

Form[edit]

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:[7]

The next four, Zhou 周, Wu 吳, Zheng 鄭, and Wang 王, were the surnames of the other wives of Qian Chu, the last king of Wuyue.[8]

Complete text[edit]

This text is written in Traditional Chinese. Note that several of these characters may link to the same article.

  • (Zhao)
  • (Qian)
  • (Sun)
  • (Li)
  • (Bǎi)
  • (jiā)
  • (xìng)
  • (zhōng)[note 1]


Prevalence in modern times[edit]

In 2013 the Fuxi Institution compiled a ranking of the 400 most common surnames in China.[9]

Under 300th most common[edit]

According to the study, the following surnames are not among the 300 most common surnames:[9]

  • Yōng 雍 – 339th
  • Píng 平 – 315th
  • Mǐ 米 – 316th
  • Zhàn 湛 – 369th

Under 400th most common[edit]

According to the study, the following surnames are not among the 400 most common surnames:[9]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The last four-character line means "thus ends the Hundred Family Surnames." It is not intended to contain surnames.

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Ting Hui Lee (2011). Chinese Schools in Peninsular Malaysia: The Struggle for Survival. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 249–. ISBN 978-981-4279-21-5.
  2. ^ Patrick Hanks; Richard Coates; Peter McClure (November 17, 2016). The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland. OUP Oxford. pp. 43–. ISBN 978-0-19-252747-9.
  3. ^ a b c K. S. Tom. [1989] (1989). Echoes from Old China: Life, Legends and Lore of the Middle Kingdom p. 12. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1285-9.
  4. ^ Chen, Janey. [1992] (1992). A Practical English-Chinese Pronouncing Dictionary. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-1877-0
  5. ^ "Taking Stock of Classic Early Childhood Readers". China Times. June 26, 2014.
  6. ^ Rawski (1979), pp. 46–48.
  7. ^ Zhang, Jiansong; Shen, Haixiong (March 5, 2006). ""百家姓"排列终有序。姓氏文化有何内涵?" [The "Hundred Family Surnames" are finally arranged in order. What is the cultural meaning of the surnames?]. Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on November 8, 2014.
  8. ^ Chen Danning (September 3, 2014). 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 November 7, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c Yuan Yida (袁义达), Qiu Jiaru, 邱家儒. 中国四百大姓. Beijing Book Co. Inc., 1 January 2013

Sources[edit]

  • Rawski, Evelyn Sakakida (1979). Education and Popular Literacy in Ch'ing China. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-08753-3.

External links[edit]