Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Zhao (surname)

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Language(s) of origin  Chinese
Related names  Cho, Triệu
Zhao (surname)
Meaning  Name of a feudal state during the Zhou Dynasty

Zhao (//; simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ), also romanized Chao, Cho, Chiu, Tio, and various other forms, is a Chinese family name, ranking as the 7th most common surname in Mainland China and carried mainly by people of Mandarin-speaking regions. Zhao is the 1st surname in the famous Hundred Family Surnames – the traditional list of all Chinese surnames – because it was the emperor's surname of the Song Dynasty (960–1279) when the list was compiled.


The romanized spelling is shared with the much rarer family name Zhào (兆).


Zhao is one of the most ancient of Chinese surnames, and its origins are partly shrouded in legend. During the reign of King Mu of Zhou (976/956 BC – 922/918 BC), an officer named Zaofu (Chinese: 造父) proved exceptionally adept at training horses and driving chariots and won the respect of King Mu. During a battle with the eastern state of Xu, an ethnically different state which was resisting Zhou rule, Zaofu drove a chariot into the battle and escorted King Mu back to the Zhou capital. In gratitude, King Mu enfeoffed Zaofu as the lord of Zhao, a town in what is now Hongdong County, Shanxi Province, to be held by his descendants in perpetuity. Zaofu's descendants took Zhao as a surname to mark their prestigious association with the city. Records such as Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian say that Zaofu was a descendant of legendary kings Zhuanxu, Shaohao, and the Yellow Emperor.

The town Zhao became part of the state of Jin during the Warring States period, when the Zhou Dynasty began to collapse. In 403 BC, Jin split into three smaller states, one of which was the state of Zhao. During this period, the common ancestral name Ying (嬴) split into 14 clan names: Lian (廉), Xu (徐), Jiang (江), Qin (秦), Zhao (趙), Huang (黄), Liang (梁), Ma (馬), Ge (葛), Gu (谷), Mou (繆), Zhong (鍾), Fei (費), and Qu (瞿).

The Zhao clan rulers of State of Qin and State of Zhao were highly successful, and State of Zhao were one of the last major states conquered by the State of Qin during its unification of China.

As with all ancient Chinese surnames, the Zhao family was constantly added to by marriages, its bestowal upon commoners for meritorious deeds, and its adoption by non-Chinese peoples assimilated into Han Chinese culture. The Zhao name experienced a great revival after Zhao Kuangyin became the first emperor of the Song Dynasty in 960 AD, leading to 300 years of Zhao rule over China. Notably, it is during this dynasty that the famous Hundred Family Surnames – the traditional list of all Chinese surnames – was compiled, leading the surname Zhao, that of the royal house, to be the first name listed.

However, some cadet clans on the mainland have genealogy records preserved from the Cultural Revolution as well as some Hata clans of Japan, which could trace back to a significant amount of generations to verify the authenticity of the bloodline.

Historical figures

  • Zhao Zheng (traditional Chinese: 趙正), the first emperor of China, most commonly known as Qin Shi Huang (traditional Chinese: 秦始皇)
  • Zhao Chengjiao (趙成蟜), the first emperor's half brother, after the first emperor inherited the throne, he rebelled and was killed by the emperor.
  • Zhao Chou Warlord during the Late Tang Dynasty
  • Zhao Dejun general of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period state Later Tang and Later Tang's predecessor state Jin
  • Zhao Gao close advisor to emperors during the Qin Dynasty one of the most corrupt, villainous, violent and powerful eunuchs in Chinese history
  • Zhao Guangyi Chancellor of Southern Han
  • Zhao Kuangyin (趙匡胤) or Emperor Taizu of Song (宋太祖), the founder of the Song Dynasty
  • Zhao Deyin warlord late in the Tang Dynasty,
  • Zhao Dezhao second son of Emperor Taizu
  • Zhao Feiyan Empress of the Western Han Dynasty to Emperor Cheng
  • Zhao Hede Imperial Consort to Emperor Cheng of Han sister to Empress Zhao Feiyan
  • Zhao Defeng Zhao Kuangyin Fourth Son
  • Zhao Kuangyi Brother of Zhao Kuangyin and Second Emperor of the Song Dynasty
  • Zhao Heng Third Emperor of The Song Dynasty
  • Zhao Zhen Fourth Emperor of The Song Dynasty
  • Zhao Shu Fifth Emperor of The Song Dynasty
  • Zhao Xu Sixth Emperor of The Song Dynasty
  • Zhao Xu Seventh Emperor of the Song Dynasty
  • Zhao Ji Eighth Emperor of The Song Dynasty famous for being a skilled poet, painter, calligrapher, and musician.
  • Zhao Boju Painter during the Song Dynasty
  • Zhao Yun General of Shu Han during the era of Three Kingdoms
  • Zhao Mengfu calligrapher, descendant of Song Imperial Family
  • Zhao Yong calligrapher, son of Zhao Mengfu, descendant of Song Imperial Family
  • Zhao Yiguang , Literary figure and author during Ming dynasty, relative of Zhao Mengfu, descendant of Song Imperial Family
  • Modern figures

  • Zhao Jiwei Chinese basketball player.
  • Zhao Zhiqian (traditional Chinese:趙之謙), Qing Dynasty calligrapher.
  • Zhao Yi (traditional Chinese:趙翼), poet, historian, and critic during the Qing Dynasty
  • Zhao Ziyang (traditional Chinese: 趙紫陽, simplified Chinese: 赵紫阳), former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and Premier of China
  • Elaine L. Chao (traditional Chinese: 趙小蘭), American politician, served as the 24th United States Secretary of Labor
  • Rosalind Chao (traditional Chinese: 趙家玲), American actress
  • Yuen Ren Chao (traditional Chinese: 趙元任), Chinese linguist
  • Cecil Chao (traditional Chinese: 趙世曾), Hong Kong entrepreneur
  • Mark Chao (traditional Chinese: 趙又廷), Taiwanese actor, singer and model
  • Bondy Chiu (traditional Chinese: 趙學而), Hong Kong singer and actress
  • Angie Chiu (traditional Chinese: 趙雅芝), Hong Kong actress, third runner up in the 1973 Miss Hong Kong pageant
  • Bryan Chiu – retired Canadian professional football player; played Centre for the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL from 1997 to 2010
  • May Chiu – Canadian politician; first Chinese-born Québécoise to have run as a candidate for the Bloc Québécois party in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Baldwin Chiu (traditional Chinese:趙保榮) as Only Won, Hip Hop Artist, Actor, Model, Martial Arts instructor
  • Vincent Zhao (traditional Chinese: 趙文卓), martial artist and actor
  • John Cho – Korean-born American comedian
  • Margaret Cho – American comedian
  • Jack Zhao, Chinese bridge player
  • Judy Chu (traditional Chinese: 趙美心), American politician and educator
  • Zhao Benshan (traditional Chinese: 趙本山), comedian/actor/director
  • Zhao Dan (traditional Chinese: 趙丹), Chinese actor popular during the golden age of Chinese Cinema.
  • Zhao Erfeng – warlord
  • Zhao Erxun – governor of Sichuan
  • Zhao Hongbo (traditional Chinese: 趙宏博), a pairs figure skater
  • Zhao Jingshen (traditional Chinese: 趙景深), novelist.
  • Zhao Jiping (traditional Chinese: 趙季平), composer
  • Zhao Shuli (traditional Chinese: 趙樹理), novelist
  • Zhao Wei (traditional Chinese: 趙薇, simplified Chinese: 赵薇), actress
  • Zhao Yiman (simplified Chinese: 赵一曼), Chinese freedom fighter
  • Zhao Yongsheng – race walker
  • Zhao Zong-Yuan – Chinese-Australian chess grandmaster
  • Zhao Hao-Sheng – Martial artist and Philosopher
  • References

    Zhao (surname) Wikipedia