History of Surname Lew

Lew (劉) means: a Chinese surname or The Dragon Keepers

The surname Lew is more than 3,000 years old and is the fourth largest family name in China. Lew (劉), Lee (李), Mong (王), Jeung (張), and Chin (陳) are called the five-big surnames. The population of the Lew's in the world is about 60 million, 5.4% of the population of China as of 2009.

The surname Lew originated in an area referred to during the Han Dynasty (漢朝 206BC to 220AD) as the Pengcheng Prefecture (彭城郡). The present day location of Pengcheng Prefecture is in Tongshan County (銅山縣) of Jiangsu Province (江蘇省).

Although the surname Lew has many origins, it has only two main lines. One is the descendent's of Emperor Yao (堯), one line of the surname Qi (祈). Another branch of Lew families originally surnamed Ji (姬) started in Yanshi, Henan Province. An ancient city named Lew was seized by Emperor Pingwang (周平王) of the Zhou Dynasty in 712 B.C., later bestowed to one of his descendants called officially “Lew Kanggong”. Later offspring's of Lew Kanggong took Lew as their surname.

Yao Di (堯帝), who lived more than 4,000 years ago, was the legendary chief of the federated tribes in ancient China. Legend says that around 1880BC, one of his descendants fathered an attractive baby boy with two words, Lew Leui (劉纍), written onto his palm. His parents named him after these two words. People said that when Lew Leui grew up, he knew how to tame dragons. Lew Leui could ride on the back of any flying dragon. Legends also say that Lew Leui was appointed by King Kong Jia (孔甲王) to look after his four dragons. King Kong Jia was the 13th King of the Xia Dynasty (夏朝 2205BC to 1766BC) who reigned from 1879BC to 1847BC.

Soon after being employed as King Kong Jia's dragon-keeper, one of the dragons became ill and died. Lew Leui did not tell the King about the dragons death; instead he cooked the meat of the dead dragon for the King to eat. After the meal, King Kong Jia said that it was delicious and rewarded Lew Leui with some gifts. King Kong Jia wanted to watch some acrobatic shows performed by the dragons. In order to prevent King Kong Jia from finding out about the death of one of his dragons, Lew Leui only allowed two dragons to perform at a time. The two dragon performance had been going on for quite some time, and King Kong Jia thought that it would be fantastic if the show was performed by his four dragons. The King wanted his four dragons to perform at the same time, but Lew Leui ignored the King's wish and continued to use two dragons to perform the shows. King Kong Jia became suspicious about his dragons and wanted to query Lew Leui. Knowing that he could not trick the King any longer and that sooner or later the King would find out about the death of one of the dragons, Lew Leui took his family and fled to Loo ( present day Lushan County 魯山縣 in Henan Province 河南省). After Lew Leui's death, his descendants adopted Lew (劉) as their surname.

In history, Lew families flourished everywhere and grew in population, many of them distinguished themselves with great power and fame. As to the number of dynasties established and the years they lasted, surname Lew ranks No.1 in China. There were 66 emperors and many dynasties, kingdoms or powers established, lasting for more than 650 years in total. Among them, the Western Han Dynasty established by Liu Bang (劉邦) and the Eastern Han Dynasty established by Liu Xiu (劉秀), lasting 214 years and 196 years respectively, composed the longest feudalist dynasty of Han in Chinese history. The Sou Han Dynasty was established by Liu Bei (劉备).

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