According to historical records, one branch of Chinese surname Tao originated from Yao, and another from Shun.
Pottery (the word is pronounced asTao in Chinese) making was once Yao's occupation and today's Dingtao County in Shandong Province was the place where he made pottery. Later his offspring moved to today's Tang County, Hebei Province. That is why some of Yao's descendants are surnamed Tao and some are surnamed Tang today.
Another branch of Tao originated from Shun. After abdicating the throne in Yu's favor, Shun gave the place Yucheng to his descendant Shang Jun. The offspring took the city's name Yu as their family name. That is the reason why Shun is also called Yu Shun. Of the offspring of Shun, there was a man named Yu E who was specialized in pottery making. Therefore, his offspring adopted Tao as their family name.
There are quite a lot of celebrities surnamed Tao throughout the Chinese history. Of them are Tao Ying, a girl in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC - 476 BC) who was known for her virtues; Tao Kan, a general in Eastern Jin Dynasty who led the western expedition; Tao Yuanming, a poet who would not bend his body for five dou of rice; Tao Hongjing, the Prime Minister of Liang Dynasty who retreated to deep mountains; Tao Yi, a painter in Song Dynasty; Tao Zongyi, a litterateur of Yuan Dynasty; Tao Xingzhi, a famous contemporary educator.
By People's Daily Online