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Most Common Names In The Three Kingdoms

After a recent question about it, I decided to poke around a little bit and find out which surnames were the most common in the Three Kingdoms.

This was just some quick research  so these numbers aren’t exact. But it does paint an interesting picture.

These are ranked by the number of individuals I could find with the given surname.

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  1. 張 Zhāng: Over 220 individuals
  2. 王 Wáng: Over 180 individuals
  3. 刘 Liú: Over 170 individuals
  4. 李 Lǐ: Over 100 individuals
  5. 陈 Chén: Over 90 individuals
  6. 孙 Sūn: Over 80 individuals*
  7. 杨 Yáng: Over 60 individuals
  8. 曹 Cáo: Over 60 individuals*
  9. 郭 Guō: Over 60 individuals
  10. 赵 Zhào: Over 50 individuals
  11. 徐 Xú: Over 50 individuals
  12. 周 Zhōu: Over 40 individuals
  13. 董 Dǒng: Over 40 individuals
  14. 马 Mǎ: Over 40 individuals
  15. 荀 Xún: Over 40 individuals*
  16. 袁 Yuán: Over 40 individuals*
  17. 吕 Lǚ: Over 30 individuals
  18. 朱 Zhū: Over 30 individuals
  19. 吴 Wú: Over 30 individuals
  20. 韩 Hán: Over 30 individuals
  21. 夏侯 Xiàhóu Over 30 individuals*

Some of these names can be dismissed as over-representation by one particular clan. Families like the Sun, Cao, Xun, Yuan, and Xiahou occupy an outsized space in historical records. These surnames were not necessarily common so much as that many members from one particular family enjoyed extraordinary prominence.

As you can see, the most common surname - by a commanding margin - is  張 Zhāng.  王 Wáng and 刘 Liú also enjoy an overwhelming superiority - and the prominence of the 刘 Liú surname cannot be attributed purely to the members of the ruling families of Han and Shu. 李 Lǐ and 陈 Chén also enjoy an impressive lead. And when you adjust the numbers for the  孙 Sūn family to account for the prominence of Sun Jian’s particular bloodline, their lead becomes all the more commanding. Nothing else even comes close to these 5 names.

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