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Origin of Li*, Lee*, Yi* (Korean), Ly* (Vietnamese)
Famous People in History
The 2nd most common last name in China. The origin of the Li last
name was quite complicated, having to do with the official title and tree name. There was a
descendent of Shao Hao known as Ben Tao, who was an official of
the Justice Department. Ben Tao was given the title of Da Li (Li which has the same pronouncement as the last name Li, means reasoning, and justice). According to the legend,
Ben Tao has an unicorn which could distinguish criminals from innocent people. When brought in front of a lineup, the unicorn would point to the guilty party with its horn. Bens descendents held the office of justice for generations from Xia to
Shang Dynasty, and was known as the Lis (justice). At the end of Shang Dynasty, Li Zheng
was executed by Zhou Wang for making a bad judgment. His wife and son Li Zhen escaped to ruins
of Yi Hou. They found a lot of pear trees which helped them to escape starvation.
To commemorate this, they change their last name from the Li of justice to the Li of pear.
During the Tang Dynasty, many people (including Xu, Bing, Dong, An, Ge, Du, Wu, Ma, Zhang, and Hong) were give the name of Li for their contributions in establishing the Tang Dynasty, and Li became a big family.
Hometown: Lan Zhou, Gong Chang, and Qin Zhou of Gan Su Province.
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