The surname Ban originated in State Chu, now Hubei and Hunan province.
It is said that in the Spring and Autumn Period (770BC-476BC) King of State Chu Ruoao's grandson was born and abandoned in Zhumengze. He then grew up drinking the milk of tigress. He got his name "Douban" from the stripes (ban in Chinese) that cover the body of tigers. To commemorate this his offspring took Ban as their surname. "Ban" was interchangeable with another Chinese character also pronounced "ban" in ancient times and Douban's offspring used the latter, which was then multiplied far and wide.
Key historical figures of the surname Ban were concentrated in the Han Dynasty. According to historical records, the renowned gifted female scholar Ban Jieyu was very much favored by Emperor Cheng. Once the emperor took her on a tour to the inner court and intended to ride with her in the same vehicle only to be declined for not conforming to the rites. Ban Jieyu was a virtuous all-rounder. Her poems were read and recited for centuries by later generations with the language sadly touching and beautiful.
The enduring history book Han Shu (History of Han Dynasty) was started by Ban Gu's father Ban Biao, who wrote dozens of pieces in continuance of the Records of the Historian (by Sima Qian). His son Ban Gu carried on his work on Han Shu while his daughter Ban Zhao finished what Ban Gu left uncompleted. Other figures of the surname Ban also include Ban Kuang in the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-25AD), distinguished general Ban Chao and Ban Yong in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) and Ban Yan in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
By People's Daily Online