There were three sources of surname Yao:
People of the first branch of Yao families were descendants of the ancient Emperor Shun. Some believed that since Shun lived in Yaoxu, his offspring took the name of the place Yao as their surname. Some others believed that since daughters of Shun were married to Taotang who lived beside the Guihe River, their offspring took the name of the river Gui as their surname. To escape the chaos of the world, they changed their surname later to Yao.
The second branch of Yao families were originally surnamed Zi. According to the record, descendants of the Shang tribe established a Kingdom of Yao, and later took the name of the kingdom as their surname.
People of the third branch of Yao families were offspring of Yao Gezhong, a leader of a minority of Qiang nationality in Western Jin Dynasty, who claimed that his people were descendants of Emperor Shun and changed their surname to Yao.
Yao Chong: a famous Prime Minister
Yao Chong, as an official in his long political life, made a great contribution to the Flourishing Age of Kaiyuan. At the beginning years of the age of Kaiyuan (713—741A.D.), Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty appointed Yao Chong Prime Minister of the nation to develop the economy and stabilize the power. Yao Chong (649 – 721 A.D.) was born in Shan County of Henan Province during the period of Zhenguan (627—649A.D.) when Taizong was the emperor and died at the age of 72 in Chang’an City, capital of the Tang Dynasty, in the period of Emperor Xuanzong. In his life, Yao Chong, devoted to the nation and served three emperors including Wu Zetian, the only queen of China, as Prime Minister. It was actually a miracle at the elusory, dangerous, battlefield like political stage of ancient China.