Bao: a long history of righteousness

There are an estimated 670,000 people surnamed Bao, accounting for 0.054 percent of the total population in China. Bao ranks the 179th most common Chinese family name.

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There are an estimated 670,000 people surnamed Bao, accounting for 0.054 percent of the total population in China. Bao ranks the 179th most common Chinese family name.

There are an estimated 670,000 people surnamed Bao, accounting for 0.054 percent of the total population in China. Bao ranks the 179th most common Chinese family name.

There are generally three major sources of Bao as a surname. One is derived from the descendants of Sun Jingshu (孙敬叔) whose ancestor, surnamed Si (姒), was the legendary Yu the Great (大禹), establishing the Xia Dynasty (2070-1600 BC). As an officer in the state of Qi in the Spring and Autumn Period (771-476 BC), Sun’s fief was called Bao, which was taken by his offspring as a surname.

A second major branch of Bao can be traced back to the Fuxi (伏羲) family, also known as the Paoxi (庖牺) family. Pao (庖) and Bao (鲍) were interchangeable words in the Spring and Autumn Period, and thus many descendants of Fuxi were surnamed Bao. Bao was also a sinicised surname of the people from ancient ethnic groups, such as Man, Jingpo (景颇) and Mongol. 

The Bao families mainly dwelled in Shandong Province in the early Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and moved to Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Jiangsu provinces in the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279). The number of Baos in Zhejiang today constitutes 15 percent of the total population of Bao. The widely known idiom “Guan Bao Zhi Jiao” (管鲍之交) depicts the sincere friendship between two politicians in the state of Qi — Bao Shuya (鲍叔牙) and Guan Zhong (管仲).

Another celebrity is Bao Yong (鲍永), a censor in the Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 220). He was once indignant over the disrespect of Liu Liang, the uncle of emperor Guangwu of Han, toward a palace guard. He submitted a statement to the emperor, asking him to punish Liu.

Bao also promoted another righteous person — Bao Hui (鲍恢) — to official supervisor. The emperor reminded his relatives to restrain themselves in front of the two Baos. The idiom “Er Bao Jiu Te” (二鲍纠慝) expresses the two Baos’ uprightness.



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