home> giantpanda> Man's Knowledge about Giant Pandas

A study of Giant Panda's name history


The giant panda is a rare animal only existing in China. And it has been recorded for more than 3,000 years. As time goes by, people know more and more about it, and its name changes continuously.

Pixiu is the ancient name of the Giant Panda in Book of Songs, Annotations of Erya (A proto-dictionary in the form of a collection of early glosses and explanations on words appearing in Zhou texts) by Guopu, Additions to Erya Book, the Record of Rites, the Chorography of Emei Mountain and the Chorography of Hongya County.
Whitefox, in Erya
Hu (means young child), in Erya
Zhiyi, in the Book of Histoy annotated by Confucius, Annotations of the Book of Songs by Luji, Erya, Annotation of Erya, Additions to Erya
Zhishou, in the Record of Rites
Baipi, in the Annotations of the Book of Songs by Luji
Wenpi, in Zhuangtsu
Piqiu, in the Chorography of Emei Mountain
Jiaoduan, in the Chorography of Hongya County
Huoganjiang (the name of a male panda), in Ciyuan (Source of words), Additions to Erya
Xiu (the name of a female panda), in Ciyuan (Source of words), Additions to Erya
Mo, in Erya, Compendium of Materia Medica, Ode to a Pixiu Screen, History of the Many States in East Zhou Dynasty, Shuowen (on words), Nanzhongzhi, Jiutangshu (Old History of Tang Dynasty), Ode on Shanglin Garden  by Sima Xiangru, Chorography of Leibo County, General Records of Youyangzhinai State, Chorography of Zhushan County and Chorography of Changyang County.
Mo (a different Chinese Character from the above one) in the Book of Animals, Guangya, Zhililizhouzhilin (Records of Lizhou Province), History of Late Han Dynasty, ZhongShanJing (Classics of Zhongshan), ShuZhongGuangJi (Extensive Records of Central Sichuan Province), QiuYangZaZu (Mixed Records of Qiuyang), GuangZhi (Extensive Records) and Chorography of Badong Coungy (now Zhigui of Hubei)
Huangmo, in the WangHuiPian (a Book of Zhou Dynasty)
White Leopard, in Annotations of the Book of Songs by Luji, Erya
Mengbao: in ShuZhongGuangJi (Extensive Records of Central Sichuan Province)
Mengshishou: ShuZhongGuangJi (Extensive Records of Central Sichuan Province)
Nietie: Shenyijing (Book on Stanage Things)
Iron-Eating Animal: ShuZhongGuangJi (Extensive Records of Central Sichuan Province), Ode on the Capital of Shu by Zuosi of Jin Dynasty, Chorography of Beichuan County, Choreography of Leibo County and General Records of Youyangzhinai State.
Linyun (cloud in the forest): Erya

The Name Da XiongMao (Giant Bear-Cat) (now generally used in China) came from the original name MaoXiong (Cat-Bear) or Da Maoxiong (Giant Cat-Bear), which referred to the round face like the cat and the fat figure like a bear. Sometimes, people took it as a relative of bears. Later on, the Chinese writing system underwent a reform, and people visiting the Beipei Museum read the sign in a wrong way. So, Xiong Mao became the Chinese name of Giant panda. Now, the Chinese official name of the Giant Panda became Xiongmao.

The local name of the giant panda in its hometown, however, is still white old bear or flowery bear. In the Mingshan Mountain areas of the Tibetan people, it is called Dang or DuDongGa, or DongGa called by the BaiMaBuDa people of Pingwu County, or Equ called by the Li people of Liangshan Mountain. All of these local names, though different in pronunciation, retain the meaning of a white or white-and-black bear-like animal.

The giant panda also has other names like Chinabear, Bamboobear, Silverdog and Giant raccoon. The name giant raccoon came into being because the giant panda has a close blood relationship with a raccoon (even now, some scholars tend to classify it into the raccoon class), but the panda is bigger than the raccoon. The name silver dog appeared because the Red Pandas are locally called golden dog, so giant pandas with white hairs are called silver dogs. Bamboo-bear, we can easily guess, is from that the giant panda eats bamboos; and Chinabear was given to it because it is a rare animal peculiar to China.

Historical Records in Ancient China
Western naming of Giant Panda in recent times