'Tiger'  rare but strong family name in China

Updated: 2010-02-10 19:25
Large Medium Small

NANJING: As China's Year of the Tiger approaches, the nation has already started heated discussions about anything related to tigers.

In east China's Nanjing city, about 40 of the more than 6.23 million people have the family name "Hu", which literally means tiger, statistics from the city's population and family planning commission showed.

So far, no national statistics are available.

Many still don't know that "tiger" can be a family name in China, as it is too rare to be included in China's Book of Family Names.

Related readings:
'Tiger'  rare but strong family name in China People ready for Spring Festival in Xinjiang
'Tiger'  rare but strong family name in China On the way home for Spring Festival
'Tiger'  rare but strong family name in China Saving tigers in year of tiger
'Tiger'  rare but strong family name in China Tiger ubiquitous as China embraces Year of Tiger

But experts are discussing two possible origins of the name. One saying is that it came from a chancellor's name dating back 4,300 years. Another saying is that it originated from a Hui ethnic minority surname.

In southwest China's Sichuan Province and south China's Yunnan Province, "Tiger" as a surname is pronounced as "Mao", which literally means cat. The reason for such pronunciation remains unknown.

China's year of the Tiger starts on February 14. The traditional Chinese zodiac includes 12 animals, with each year having its own unique features. The tiger represents fearlessness and power either when connected with a year or someone's name.