Chinese : from the place name Ni. During the Zhou dynasty (1122–221 bc) there existed a fief of Ni (). After the state of Chu conquered Ni, descendants of the Ni aristocracy adopted Ni as their surname. The character for this Ni was not the same as that of the present-day surname however; later descendants, in order to evade their enemies, changed the form of the character, allowing the pronunciation to stay the same.
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