Name After the Mother by Bulang Ethnic Minority

The name system of the Blang people is peculiar. The Blangs in Xishuangbanna and Lancang have only given names, but no family names. Most of the men’s names begin with Yan, and most of the women’s names, with Yu. And there is a “Da” or “Ya” before an old man or woman’s name respectively.

Three days or a month after a child’s birth, a naming ceremony is held, in which the child is named by the maternal grandfather or some other old man in the clan. According to the sequence of birth among his brothers, a male child’s name is chosen from the list “Di, Zhan, Wang, Bu, Pa, Su, Sao, Hong.” Similarly, a female child’s name is chosen from the list “Ying, Wang, Ai, Niu, E, O, Au.” When a child has its given name, the second syllable of the mother’s full name will be put after the given one. In this way, the offspring of the Blangs are named after their mothers. In other words, a child’s name is: gender marker (yan or yu) +given name (a name from the male name list or the female name list) + the second syllable of the mother’s name. This naming practice shows that the Blangs are deeply influenced by the matriarchal system that prevailed in their history. Besides, there is also the practice of naming both after the mother and the father, and the practice of naming only after the father. That can be regarded as a cultural feature of the transition from a matriarchal society to a patriarchal one.