What can we tell from the evolution of Han Chinese names?

by Isabella Chua
What do names tell us about gender expectations?
What’s in a name? The zeitgeist, it seems
Pre-1960s (1930–1959)
The 1960s

Cao Youcheng (曹有成). The army loves the people, the people support the army, the army and the people are as dear to each other as members of one family (军爱民,民拥军,军民亲如一家), 1957. Landsberger collection. Source:

The 1970s
The 1980s
The 1990s
The 2000s (2000–2008)
Characters with personality
Names are artefacts
How unique is your name?
Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at
Isabella Chua / Senior Writer

Isabella loves to dig beyond what is ‘commonsensical’ or ‘natural’ to us, by looking at the larger forces (or even accidents), that may have structured these beliefs. A writer at Kontinentalist, she's particularly interested in social issues—religion, crime, identity, and food. While she strives to stay curious about the world by listening to podcasts and taking classes, she's happiest when eating pastries, cakes, and drinking tea.


This story is written in collaboration with
Suri Zhu

Suri is a freelance vis developer currently living in Beijing. She enjoys using data and visuals.

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