Origin of Chen (陳)
In ancient times the pronunciation of 陳 was quite different from that used today. It is said, it sounded something like Dien. Remnants of this original spoken sound can still be discerned in the south Fujian Minan dialect pronunciation of Tan. Throughout this section, only Chen will be used so as not to cause confusion.
According to legend, nearly 5,000 years ago during the time of Huangdi (黃帝) or the Yellow Emperor, there once lived a man called Chen Feng (陳丰). Apparently, he was the only known person who bore the surname Chen (陳) but he only had one daughter. According to the Historical Records (史記) Huangdi’s great grandson, Di Ku (帝嚳) married Chen Feng’s daughter. They were posted to a place called Wanqiu (宛丘) in Henan Province (河南省). They had a son, Fangxun (放勳) who was later titled Di Yao (帝堯). Wanqiu (宛丘) was also once the capital of another legendary figure named Fu Xi (伏羲), the first of the five sage emperors and is often associated with the origin of Chinese script (漢字), divination by using the Bagua (八卦) (eight trigrams) and music among other things. Later, Wanqiu (宛丘) also served as the capital of Yandi/Shennong (炎帝/申農), another historical figure in Chinese history.
1=Ancient capital of Wanqiu (古宛丘) & 2=Site of Chen Hugong's grave (陳胡公墓)
Chen Feng (陳丰) and his family lived in Wanqiu (宛丘) for so many years that over time it was often referred to as Chen instead of Wanqiu (宛丘). This is the interesting part because Chen (the place) also had many historical associations, and according to the latest Chinese research it was also one of the centres of Neolithic age (新石器的代) Longshan culture (龍山文化) which is known for its polished black pottery. The name Longshan (龍山) was used because the pottery was first discovered at a place near Longshan in Shandong Province (山東省龍山).
This is the brief story about this ancient place called Chen which will begin to unfold as the Chen genealogy develops.
Chen Feng (陳丰) had no male descendants, hence, his surname Chen had no direct succeeding blood line.
The Written Character 陳
In ancient times, symbols were used as writing was not yet developed. Symbols can represent many things and it was often used to denote clan names as depicted by this symbol for surname 陳:
Remember, the surname was Dien in the early days and was only from the beginning of the Song Dynasty (宋朝) when it came to be pronounced Chen.