Sima (Chinese surname)

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司馬姓 - 楷体.svg
Pronunciation Sīmǎ (Pinyin)
Su-má (Pe̍h-ōe-jī)
Language(s) Chinese
Language(s) Chinese language
Word/Name One of the offices of the Zhou Dynasty's Three Excellencies
Meaning horse master
Other names
Variant(s) Sima (Mandarin)
Suma (Hokkien)
Sma (English)

Sima ([sɹ̩́mà], simplified Chinese: 司马; traditional Chinese: 司馬; pinyin: Sīmǎ; Wade–Giles: Ssu-ma) is a Chinese family name. It is one of the rare two-character Chinese family names; most Chinese family names consist of only a single-character. It is an occupation name, literally meaning "control" (sī) "horses" (mǎ); in a similar way as the surname Marshall is derived from the Frankish: "mare" (horse) + "skalkoz" (master). The surname originated from one of the offices of the Three Excellencies of the Zhou Dynasty. The name has also been anglicized as "Sma".[citation needed]


The Sima clan claims a line of descent from the mythological Yellow Emperor, through his descendant ChengBo XiuFu (程伯休父). King Xuan of Zhou appointed Chengbo Xiufu as the Sima or Minister of War. Due to his success in subduing the Xirong rebellion, he was granted permission to use the title as his surname.

During the late Zhou dynasty, the Sima clan migrated to the states of Wey, Zhao, and Qin.

The Sima family in Zhao became ministers. Sima Ang, King of Yin, was a member of this branch. His eleventh-generation descendant was Sima Fang, father of Sima Yi, who was highlighted in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Sima Yi's descendants would establish the Jin Dynasty. After the dynasty ended, many members of the clan changed their surname to avoid persecution.

The Sima family in Qin included Sima Ji, a general that battled alongside Bai Qi during the Changping campaign. His fifth-generation descendant was Sima Tan, Han court astrologer, and his son was Sima Qian, the Grand Historian.

List of persons with the surname[edit]

Related Materials[edit]