Fei: a noble and honored name

There are an estimated 480,000 people surnamed Fei, accounting for 0.034 percent of the population in China. It ranks the 199th Chinese family name in terms of population. 


There are an estimated 480,000 people surnamed Fei, accounting for 0.034 percent of the population in China. It ranks the 199th Chinese family name in terms of population. 

There are generally six sources of Fei as a surname. One is derived from Boyi, surnamed Ying. He was the descendant of Zhuanxu who was a legendary emperor. Assisting Yu the Great in taming the flood, Boyi was awarded with a fief in Bi (费) in today’s Shandong Province. Ruomu, one of Boyi’s two sons, took the name of his father’s fief as his surname as an identification from the noble family. Fei (费) is a polyphone which was pronounced as “bi” when referring to the fief and this particular family. Yet, the boundary gradually blurred and most descendants of the family call themselves Fei. 

Another three branches of Feis came from the Ji family in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). Fei Xufu, a senior official of the Lu Kingdom, Ji Wuji, grandson of Duke Yi of Lu, and Ji You, son of Duke Huan of Lu in different times were granted the fief Bi in Shandong Province, which was taken by their offsprings.

Fei as a surname can also be traced back to Fei Chang whose original family name was Si. Fei Chang sought asylum in the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) after his advice was rejected by Jie of Xia, last ruler of the Xia Dynasty (2070-1600 BC). The fief of Fei Chang, awarded by Shang Tang, the first emperor of the Shang Dynasty, was called Fei Kingdom, in today’s Henan Province. 

Fei is also used as a sinicised surname by people from ethnic groups like the Xianbei, Mongols and Manchus. 

Feis mainly dwelled in central China in the Xia Dynasty, and migrated nationwide. 

The number of Feis in Hebei, Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Hubei provinces and Shanghai today constitutes 85 percent of the total population of Fei.

In the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, there was a branch of Fei from Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province known for their practices as private advisers to officials nationwide. 

Although there are not many Feis, there are a large number of celebrities surnamed Fei, including two with the same name — Fei Changfang. Fei Changfang in the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220) was a famous physician. The other Fei Changfang in the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618) was a Buddhist scholar who translated a great number of sutras.

The term “xuan hu ji shi,” studying medicine to help people, originated from the story of the physician Fei Changfang in the “Book of Later Han” by Fan Ye in the Nan Dynasty (AD 420-589).



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