Chinese: Mandarin form of the surname 安 meaning ‘peace safe’ or ‘calm’ in Chinese: (i) borne by descendants of immigrants from an ancient state called An Xi (安息) also known as the Parthian Empire (located in present-day northeastern Iran). Traditional accounts record that the legendary emperor Huang Di the ‘Yellow Emperor’ (c. 27th century BC) had a grandson named An who moved to the far west to establish An Xi losing contact with the Middle Kingdom. In 147 AD An Shigao (安世高) prince of the Parthian Empire (An Xi) came to China to preach Buddhism. Later some immigrants from the Parthian Empire (An Xi) adopted their tribal name An as their surname. (ii) adopted as a surname by the An Chi (安遲) family from the Xianbei ethnic group in northern China during the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534 AD). (iii) from one of the ‘Nine Sogdian Surnames’ also known as ‘Nine Surnames of Zhaowu’ because their ancestors came from Zhaowu an ancient city in present-day Gansu province in northwestern China. During the Sui and Tang dynasties (581–987 AD) there were nine Sogdian states in Central Asia one of which was called An (安) in Chinese. Between 649 and 655 AD these states submitted to Emperor Gaozong of Tang (628–83 AD). (iv) possibly from An (安) the name of an ancient fief (located in Shanxi province). Chinese: variant Romanization of the surname 晏 see Yan 5. Chinese: variant Romanization of the surname 洪 see Hong Korean: written 안 in Chinese characters 安 meaning ‘peace’. This is the only Chinese character for the surname An. Some sources indicate that there are 109 An clans but only six can be documented. All had one common founding ancestor named Yi Wŏn (李 瑗) who migrated from Tang China to the Shilla Kingdom in 807 AD. Yi had three sons who helped the Shilla king Kyŏngmun (861–75) to repel Japanese invaders. As a token of royal appreciation these three sons were enfeoffed with land and granted the surname An (安). It is now quite a common Korean surname and can be found throughout the peninsula. Compare Ahn Vietnamese: from the Chinese surname 安 (see 1 above). Vietnamese (Ân): from the Chinese surname 殷 (see Yin ).
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press