One of the most common things you will see when entering a Chinese family’s home is a big plague on top of the front door with 2 Chinese characters proudly embossed on them. What is that you might ask? In fact, some of the older pre-war homes today still has that while the more modern homes would no longer practice them. These are known as the Tang Hao and it is still very much seen around the state of Malacca while in the villages, there are still many families who still practices it.
Known to be a Chinese culture which is fast diminishing, it is the characters that basically tells you who and the names of the household. But it is not as easy as just reading the characters there. Most of the younger Chinese generation would no longer be aware of this culture as it is no longer given much prominence today.
Make no mistake about it, the characters do not hold the surname of the family. In fact if you can read the characters, it will only allow you to guess the names of the household. There are many sources of where the 2 characters come from. It could be the village of the family’s origins which if you are familiar with the geography of China would tell you the surname. Some are titles which were given historically by the Emperor previously and passed down through generations. So if you really want to know the household’s surname and origin, you will need to know a bit of history as well.