Koihime Musou Girls and Related Korean Clans, Part XI: Yeo (여/呂)

Legend:
  • Magenta = Hamyang Yeo Clan (Hamyang County, Southern Gyeongsang)
  • Dark Ochre = Seongju-Seongsan Yeo Clan (Seongju County, Northern Gyeongsang)

Yeo
(여 or 려/呂), sometimes romanized Yeoh, Ryeo, Lyeo, Lyuh or Yuh is a common Korean surname which means 'musical note' in Sino-Korean Language, similar to Chinese Pinyin Lü. It is the 47th most common surname in China, shared by 5.6 million people, or 0.47% of the Chinese population as of 2002, especially common in Shandong and Henan provinces. This surname is the 22nd surname listed in the Song Dynasty classic text entitled Hundred Family Surnames and 63rd Most Common Surnames in Korean Republic. Same as Korean Surnames of Yook, Vulgar Roh, Cottage Roh and Yi - Yeo is one of the Korean Surnames which followed Korean Beginning Sound Rule System a.k.a Du-eum Beopchik (두음 법칙/頭音法則).

The surname originated from the ancient State of Lü. Lü Shang (fl. 11th century BC), the founder of the State of Qi, was the first person known to have the surname. It is originated from the Jiang 姜 clan, which is said to have descended from the legendary Yan Emperor. According to the Tang Dynasty genealogy text Yuanhe Xing Zuan, a branch of the Jiang clan was enfeoffed at the State of Lü by Yu the Great, the legendary founder of the Xia Dynasty.

The Jiang clan was a close ally and frequent marriage partner of the Ji clan, which conquered the Shang Dynasty to establish the Zhou Dynasty in 1046/45 BC. Lü Shang, also known as Jiang Ziya, was the first person known in history to have the surname Lü. A member of the Lü lineage of the Jiang clan, he was a top general who led the Zhou army to decisively defeat the Shang at the historic Battle of Muye. Another important general during the battle, Lü Ta, was also from the Lü lineage of the Jiang clan. After the establishment of Zhou, Lü Shang was enfeoffed at the State of Qi in modern Shandong province, which later became one of the major states of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. Lü Shang, posthumously named Duke Tai of Qi, is considered an original ancestor of the Lü surname.

During the Western Zhou period, the State of Lü was located near the Zhou court in modern Shaanxi. Inscriptions on many excavated bronzes from the period show that the Lü lineage played an active role in the Zhou court. Several people named Lü, including Lü Xing, Lü Gang, Lü Bo, and Lü Fuyu, were separately recorded to have participated in military campaigns, sometimes accompanying the Zhou king. The state was later relocated to the Nanyang basin, in present-day southern Henan, during the late Western Zhou. During the Spring and Autumn period, Lü was annexed by the State of Chu, a rising power in the south. Many people of Lü adopted the name of their former state as their surname.

A different, later origin of Lü was from the Wei (魏) lineage of the Ji (姬) surname. During the Spring and Autumn period, Prince Chong'er was exiled from the Jin and one of his followers was Wei Wuzi (魏武子). Chong'er later ascended the throne of Jin in 636 BC and became the Hegemon of China. Wei Wuzi's son, Wei Qi (魏锜) was given the fiefs of Lü and Chu (厨). Many of his descendants changed their surname to Lü.

During the Xianbei Northern Wei dynasty, Emperor Xiaowen (reigned 467–499 AD) implemented a drastic policy of sinicization, ordering his own people to adopt Chinese surnames. The Chilü (叱吕) clan of Xianbei adopted Lü as their surname. The Xianbei people have since completely assimilated into the Han Chinese. People from many other ethnic minorities in China have also adopted Lü as their surname, including the Manchu, Li, Tu, Mongols, Tujia, and the Koreans.

There are 30 designated clans (본관/本貫) which corresponds to Yeo Clan in Korea. Only 18 clans of Yeo known until today and these include two major designated clans of Yeo which are Hamyang in Southern Gyeongsang Province and Seongju-Seongsan in Northern Gyeongsang Province. Based on the 2015 Korean Republic Census - provided by Statistics Korea (통계청/統計廳/Tonggyecheong/KOSTAT), there are 60,522 people who bear the surname of Yeo. The most dominant designated clan for this surname is Hamyang Lineage, where this lineage consists of 34,835 people. It is followed with Seongju-Seongsan Lineage where this lineage consists of 22,961 people.

The Progenitor of Yeo Clan in Korea is Yeo Eo-mae or Lü Yumei in Chinese (여어매/呂禦梅). Yeo Eo-mae is a scholar of Chinese Tang Dynasty who fled to Silla Kingdom during the Huang Shao's Rebellion in 877 (3rd Reigning Year of King HeonGang Kim Jeong, 49th Monarch of Silla Kingdom). Later, he became magistrate at Byeokjin-myeon, Seongju County in Northern Gyeongsang Province. Yeo Eo-mae has two brothers, Yeo Im-cheong (여임청/呂林淸) and Yeo Kwang-yoo (여광유/呂光有).

Two Dominant Yeo Clans, Hamyang and Seongju-Seongsan were founded after the descendants of Yeo Im-cheong - Yeo Ja-jang (여자장/呂子章) and Yeo Jon-hyeok (여존혁/呂存赫) migrated to Hamyang and the other descendants of Yeo Im-cheong - Yeo Yang-yoo (여양유/呂良裕) and Yeo Ja-yeol (여자열/呂子列) remained in Seongju.

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