Jī (姬) was the ancestral name of the Zhou dynasty which ruled China between the 11th and 3rd centuries BC. Thirty-nine members of the family ruled China during this period while many others ruled as local lords, lords who eventually gained great autonomy during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. Ji is a relatively uncommon surname in modern China, largely because its bearers often adopted the names of their states as new surnames.
The character is composed of the radicals 女 (Old Chinese: nra, "woman") and 𦣞 (OC: ɢ(r)ə, "chin"). It is most likely a phono-semantic compound, with nra common in the earliest Zhou-era family names and ɢ(r)ə marking a rhyme of 姬 (OC: K(r)ə).
The legendary and historical record shows the Zhou Ji clan closely entwined with the Jiang (姜), who seem to have provided many of the Ji lords' high-ranking spouses. A popular theory in recent Chinese scholarship has suggested that they represented two important clans – the Ji originally centered on the Fen River in Shanxi and the Jiang around the Wen River in Shaanxi – whose union produced the Zhou state ruled by Old Duke Danfu, although the theory remains problematic.
Ancient rulers with the surname
- Kings of the Zhou dynasty
- Rulers of the State of Wu, who claimed descent from Taibo
- Rulers of Eastern and Western Guo, descended from Jili's two younger sons
- Rulers of Han, descended from a son of King Wen of Zhou
- Rulers of Teng, descended from a son of King Wen of Zhou
- Rulers of Wey, descended from a son of King Wen of Zhou
- Rulers of Wei, descended from a son of King Wen of Zhou
- Rulers of Xing (邢), descended from Pengshu of Xing
- Rulers of Cai (蔡), descended from Cai Shu Du
- Rulers of Cao, descended from Cao Shu Zhenduo
- Rulers of Jin state, descended from Tang Shu Yu
- Rulers of Lu (魯), descended from Bo Qin, son of the Duke of Zhou
- Rulers of Zheng
- Rulers of Han, which claimed descent from Han Wuzi
- Rulers of Shen (沈), from sons of King Wen of Zhou
- Rulers of Xi (息)
- Rulers of Yan (燕) from Duke of Shao (召公奭), brother of King Wu of Zhou
- Rulers of Cen (岑), from the nephews and hidden sons of Zhou Wen Wang
Other notable people
- Ji Jin-chun (born 1877), Governor of Rehe and Suiyuan (1921–28), fought the Russians and the Japanese
- Ji Hong-chang (born 1895), Governor of Ningxia and prominent Nationalist
- Ji Pengfei (born 1910), a prominent Communist
- Baxter, Wm. H. & Sagart, Laurent. "Baxter–Sagart Old Chinese Reconstruction". Archived April 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. (1.93 MB), pp. 61, 106, & 175. 2011. Accessed 11 October 2011.
- Pulleyblank, Edwin G. (2000). "Ji 姬 and Jiang 姜: The Role of Exogamic Clans in the Organization of the Zhou Polity" (PDF). Early China (25). Retrieved 13 March 2014.