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Lóu is the pinyin romanization of the Chinese surname written in simplified character and in traditional character. It is the 269th most common surname in China, shared by approximately 220,000 people. Lou 楼 is not listed in the Song Dynasty classic text Hundred Family Surnames.[1]

Lou (楼/樓)
PronunciationLóu (Mandarin)
Language(s)Old Chinese


As of 2008, there are approximately 220,000 people surnamed Lou 楼, or 0.018% of the total Chinese population, making it the 269th most common surname in China.[2][3] Distribution of the surname is highly uneven; the coastal province of Zhejiang in eastern China has the highest concentration of the surname, followed by Shanghai, Guangxi, and Jiangxi.[3] As early as the Song dynasty (960–1279), when there were approximately 70,000 people surnamed Lou 楼, Zhejiang already had a high concentration of the surname. After the Mongol invasion of China and the short-lived Yuan dynasty, by the Ming dynasty the Lou-surnamed population declined to 32,000, still highly concentrated in Zhejiang.[3]


According to tradition, there are two main sources of the Lou 楼 surname:

1. From the State of Qǐ (杞) during the Zhou Dynasty. King Wu of Zhou enfeoffed Duke Donglou at Qi (in modern Qi County, Kaifeng, Henan province). Duke Donglou's son and successor was Duke Xilou. The state was later moved to Shandong and destroyed by King Hui of Chu. Some descendants of dukes Donglou and Xilou adopted Lou 楼, the second character in their names, as their surname. This source of Lou began around 800 BC, and is a branch of Si, the ducal surname of Qi.[3]

2. From the State of Jin during the Spring and Autumn period. Zhao Ying (赵婴), a son of the powerful minister Zhao Cui (趙衰; died 622 BC), was enfeoffed at the settlement of Lou 楼 (in modern Yonghe County, Shanxi province). Zhao Ying was thereafter also called Lou Ying, and his descendants adopted Lou 楼 as their surname. As the Zhao clan was a branch of the ancient surname of Ying, this source of Lou is a sublineage of Ying. It branched off the Zhao surname about 2,600 years ago.[3]

Later adoptionEdit

During the Xianbei Northern Wei dynasty, Emperor Xiaowen (reigned 467–499 AD) implemented a drastic policy of sinicization, ordering his own people to adopt Han surnames. The Gailou 盖楼 and Helou 贺楼 tribes of Xianbei adopted Lou 楼 as their surname.[3]

Ningbo Lou clanEdit

One of the most prominent clans of the Lou surname is that of Ningbo, a major port city of Zhejiang. It is often called the Mingzhou or Siming Lou clan from the old names of Ningbo.[4][5] This lineage of Lous rose to prominence during the Song dynasty, and produced a large number of jinshi degree holders, who had the right to hold office in the central government.[6] The highest-ranking of them was Lou Yue (樓鑰; 1137–1213), one of the most respected scholars and government officials of his time.[5][6]

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ 百家姓 [Hundred Family Surnames] (in Chinese). Guoxue. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  2. ^ 中国最新300大姓排名(2008) [300 most common surnames in China (2008)] (in Chinese). 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  3. ^ a b c d e f 楼氏起源 [Origin of the Lou surname] (in Chinese). Greater China Genealogy. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  4. ^ Huang, Kuanzhong. 串建歷史記憶,形塑家族傳承 (PDF) (in Chinese). National Palace Museum. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b Yuan, Lize (19 March 2013). 月湖东楼 (in Chinese). Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b Walton, Linda (1984). "Kinship, Marriage, and Status in Song China: A Study of the Lou Lineage of Ningbo, c. 1050-1250". Journal of Asian History. 18 (1): 35–77. JSTOR 41930532.