Top of Surname para

For our regular Chinese heritage readers and fellow Clan Members interested in the origin of our Clan Surname (甄), the following piece of research by a well-regarded Chinese heritage researcher and author, Al Chinn is worth reading. Note that Al Chinn has an excellent web site on Chinese Genealogy research and the Chinn / Chen Clan (陳). We suggest you visit his site:

This research first appeared in the Siyi Forum on June 15th, 2010.

We have permission from Al Chinn and Kevin Lee, owner of the Siyi Forum to use the following posting extracted from the Siyi Forum.

Many thanks Al and Kevin.


"Based on the material I have on surname Zhen (甄) it identifies its origin came from four different sources.

The first source was derived from surname Gui (媯), the surname of Shundi (舜帝) (2255-2204 BC). In his era pottery (甄) making was a highly regarded craft which his clan and descendants were involved in. It grew to the extent that a place was formally named Zhen Town (甄城) and eventually a descendant of Shundi (舜帝) was named an official of pottery making (甄官). Later, this position of office was adopted by a descendant as his surname. This then was the first derivation of surname Zhen (甄) from surname Gui (媯) via the craft of pottery making more than 4,000 years ago.

The second source was derived from a man called Gaotao (皋陶), a tribal chieftain of the Yan (偃) clan who lived at the time of Zhuanxu (顓頊) (grandson of Huangdi [黃帝]). Gaotao (皋陶) had a second son named Zhongzhen (仲甄) who was an official in the Xia Dynasty (夏朝) and was later enfeoffed to a place called Zhen State (甄國). His later descendants adopted the place name of Zhen (甄) as their surname more than 3,500 years ago.

The third source occurred in the Spring & Autumn Period and was derived from Chen State (陳國) which itself was also of Gui (媯) surname origin through a descendant of Shundi (舜帝) by the name of Gui Man (媯滿)/Chen Hugong (陳胡公). After Chen State (陳國) was destroyed by Chu State (楚國) in 478 BC the descendants of Gui Man (媯滿) adopted Chen (陳) as their surname and all the previous rulers of Chen State (陳國) were posthumously renamed Chen (陳). At that traumatic time when Chen State (陳國) was overrun by Chu State (楚國) a descendant by the name of Chen Tong (陳通) fled Huaiyang (淮陽) in Henan Province (河南省) to Zhou State (周國) where he became a general. The King of Zhou later bestowed upon him the surname Zhen (甄) about 2,500 years ago.

The fourth source came about from a surname change. During the South North Dynasty (南北朝) period the Northern Wei Dynasty (北魏朝) in Luoyang (洛陽) in Henan Province (河南省) had a Xianbei tribe (鮮卑族) whose polysyllabic surname was Yuduzhen (郁都甄). They shortened it by dropping the first two syllables and it became the monosyllabic surname Zhen (甄) about 1,600 years ago.

Since my last posting, I have found another probable source for the origin of Zhen (甄) surname.

This source was also connected to Chen State (陳國). After the destruction of the Shang Dynasty (商朝) by Ji Fa (姬發) of Zhou State (周國), the first Marquis (Hou [侯]) enfeoffed to Chen State (陳國) by Zhou Wu Wang (周武王) was Gui Man (媯滿) who was a direct descendant of Shundi (舜帝). Gui Man (媯滿) had a second son by the name of Gaoyang (皋羊) who was appointed by Zhou Cheng Wang (周成王) to a place called Zhen (甄) (this was the ancient place where pottery was developed [陶甄故地]) as the official in charge of pottery (Taoguan [陶官] or Zhenguan [甄官] or Taozhenguan [陶甄官]). Gaoyang’s (皋羊) later descendants adopted Zhen (甄) as their surname in lieu of Gui (媯). This second connection with Shundi (舜帝), Gui (媯) surname and Chen State (陳國) occurred over 3,000 years ago. "