Last name origin & meaning:

Chinese: one of the oldest Chinese surnames, already being the name of the Zhou dynasty (1122–221 bc), when many current Chinese surnames first came into use. According to legend, Jiang Yuan, a concubine of the legendary emperor Ku in the 25th century bc, accidentally stepped in the imprint of a god’s big toe, which impregnated her. Not wanting such a child, she abandoned the newborn baby, Hou Ji, in the wilderness. The infant was protected from the elements by the wings of eagles and was suckled on the milk of cows and sheep. He learned how to grow grain, and became the minister of agriculture under the legendary emperor Yao. His clan eventually settled in a city named Zhouyuan, in present-day Shaanxi province in western China. Under the influence of the name of the city, they came to be known as the Zhou, even though their surname was originally Ji. This situation lasted for over a millennium until a descendant, the famed virtuous Duke Wu Wang, changed his surname to Zhou, and his son established the Zhou dynasty. Zhou Enlai, premier of China from 1949 to 1976, belonged to this clan.

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