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The family name Yao has 4,700 years of history and is one of the oldest Chinese family names. Ranking 64th among all Chinese last names, Yao accounts for 0.35% of the total Chinese population encompassing approximately 4.2 million within the namesake. Evolving over its long history, Yao has also splintered into other last names including Gui, Yu, Hu, Chen, Tian and Yuan spread out all over China.

Originating with the Emperor Shun, there were many well known scholars and administrators with the last name Yao. According to "Shi Ji" and other historical records, Emperor Shun's name is Zhong Hua and was born in Ji Zhou which is present day Yao Xu located in Puyang City, Henan province. Another account in "Topography" by Li Tai in Tang dynasty states "Shun was born in Yao Xu at Shun well to the south of Li Mountain." According to "Mencius", "Shun was born in Zhu Feng, moved to Fu Xia, farmed at Li Mountain, fished at Lei Ze, and died in Ming Tiao." These places today are all located in Yuan Qu County of Henan province.

Shun was a descendant of the ancient Emperor Zhuan Xu. He was born into a poor family and treated badly by his parents and rebellious half-brother. Shun, however was wise and able to avoid confrontation, never complaining about the adverse situations. He treated everyone with kindness and always took on the most difficult work. Wherever he went, he brought peace and order, gaining the respect and support from local people. Emperor Yao was so impressed by Shun, he married his two daughters E Huang and Nu Ying to Shun, later giving him the throne. It was said that during Shun's reign, he appointed the capable and banished villains. Shun also established laws and enriched the culture by making music. People from all over benefited from his achievements. Emperor Shaun’s reign was a peaceful and prosperous period in the history of China.