Meaning and Origin of: Zhang

Family name origins & meanings

  • Chinese : the origin of this name goes back 4500 years to a grandson of the legendary emperor Huang Di (2697–2595 bc), surnamed Hui. Hui invented bows and arrows, and was put in charge of their production. In honor of his deeds, he was given as surname the character pronounced Zhang, which is composed of the symbols for ‘bow’ and ‘long’, meaning to ‘stretch open a bow’. Zhang has now become one of the most common names in China.
  • Chinese : from the name of an area called Zhang in present-day Shandong province. During the Western Zhou dynasty (1122–771 bc) a fief was made of this area. It was later conquered by the state of Qi; at that time the former rulers of conquered states were not allowed to take the name of their state as their surname. The former ruling class of Zhang fortunately were able to drop off a small portion of the character for Zhang and still leave another character also pronounced Zhang. This modified character became their surname.