Qian (surname)

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Temple to the Qian King, a shrine to the kings of Wuyue in modern-day Hangzhou, China. Such shrines were historically commonly found throughout the former territory of Wuyue.

Qian (/ˈjæn/, simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Qián; Wade–Giles: Ch'ian²; Shanghainese: [ʑ̊i]), also spelt Chin, Chien, Tsien, or rarely Zee, is a common Chinese family name. The name literally means "money". Today, it is ranked 92nd in terms of population in mainland China. Qian is listed at the second place in the Song Dynasty text Hundred Family Surnames. As the royal surname of the kingdom of Wuyue, Qian was regarded as second only to Zhao, the imperial surname of the Song.


According to the Song dynasty book, Tongzhi, the Qian surname descends from Zhuanxu, one of the legendary Five Emperors, via Pengzu, the founder of the Peng kingdom in modern-day Jiangsu during the Shang dynasty. A Zhou dynasty official, Fu, was a descendent of Pengzu and served in the royal Treasury, the Qianfu ("Money Office"). His descendants adopted the surname "Qian", literally "money", from his title.

Being descendants of the Peng kingdom, the Qian family originally congregated around Xiapi, in modern-day Jiangsu. The surname spread from there, now has its highest concentration of it in the Jiangnan region. During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907-960), Qian Liu and his descendants ruled the independent kingdom of Wuyue in south-eastern China. Qian Liu had many sons, who were posted to different parts of his kingdom, greatly increasing the density of the Qian surname within the former territory of Wuyue. This area comprises today's Zhejiang, Shanghai, southern Jiangsu and northern Fujian. After Wuyue submitted to the Song Dynasty in 978, the last king moved to Bianjing, the Song capital in modern-day Henan. The Qian family was thereafter prominent at the Song court, with Qian Chu's son, Qian Weiyan, serving as a prominent Chancellor. During this period, the Qian family also spread to northern China.

Notable people[edit]


  • Qian Chenqun (钱陈群) (1686–1774), Qing dynasty minister
  • Empress Qian (?–1468), wife of the Zhengtong Emperor of Ming
  • Qian Qi (錢起) (710–782), Tang dynasty poet
  • The royal family of Wuyue, especially:
    • Qian Chu (錢俶) (929–988), last king
    • Qian Liu (錢鏐) (852–932), founder
  • Qian Qianyi (钱谦益) (1582–1664), Ming dynasty official and author
  • Qian Taiji (錢泰吉) (1791–1863), Qing dynasty biliophile, official
  • Qian Weiyan (钱惟演) (962–1034), Song Chancellor, Duke
  • Qian Yiji (錢儀吉) (1783–1850), Qing dynasty official, geographer
  • Qian Yingpu (錢應溥) (1824–1902), Qing dynasty official, Grand Councillor


  • Ch'ien Mu (錢穆) (1895–1990), historian
  • Chien Wei-zang (錢偉長) (1913–2010), physicist and mathematician
  • Qian Baojun (钱宝钧) (1907-1996), polymer chemist and educator, president of East-China Textile Institute of Science and Technology (华东纺织工学院)
  • Chin Kar-lok (錢嘉樂) (born 1965), actor and action choreographer
  • Frederick Chien (錢復) (born 1935), Republic of China politician, diplomat
  • Qian Liren (錢李仁) (born 1924), People's Republic of China politician, diplomat
  • Qian Qichen (钱其琛) (born 1928), People's Republic of China politician, diplomat
  • Qian Sanqiang (钱三强) (1913–1992), nuclear physicist
  • Chien Shih-Liang (錢思亮) (1908–1983), chemist and educator
  • Qian Wenzhong Fudan University Professor.
  • Qian Xiuling (錢秀玲; 1912–2008), Chinese emigrant to Belgium who helped save hundreds of Belgians from execution by the Nazi
  • Qian Xuantong (錢玄同) (1887–1939), linguist
  • Qian Xuesen (Tsien Hsue-shen) (錢學森) (1911–2009), rocket scientist and physicist
  • Qian Ying (钱瑛) (1903–1973), People's Republic of China politician
  • Qian Yunlu (钱运录) (born 1944), People's Republic of China politician
  • Qian Zhengying (钱正英) (born 1923), hydrologist, People's Republic of China politician
  • Qian Zhijun (钱志君) (born 1987), actor and subject of the "Little Fatty" internet meme
  • Qian Zhongshu (錢鍾書) (1910–1998), scholar and writer
  • Robert Tienwen Chien (錢天問) (1931-1983), American Computer Scientist, University of Illinois Professor, Director of Coordinated Science Laboratory
  • Ronny Chieng (錢信伊), Malaysian Chinese standup comedian and actor
  • Roger Y. Tsien (錢永健) (1952-2016), biologist, 2008 Nobel Prize winner
  • Shu Chien (錢煦) (born 1931), biological scientist and engineer
  • Tsien Tsuen-hsuin (錢存訓) (1909−2015), sinologist, University of Chicago professor
  • Joe Z. Tsien (钱卓) (born 1962), Neuroscientist and geneticist, the pioneer of Cre/lox neurogenetics and the creator of smart mouse Doogie. He is also known for his Theory of Connectivity regarding the basic logic of brain computation and the origin of intelligence.

See also[edit]