Sima in regular script
|Word/name||One of the offices of the Zhou dynasty's Three Excellencies|
|Variant form(s)||Sima (Mandarin)|
Sima ([śmà], simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Ssu-ma) is a Chinese family name. It is one of the rare two-character Chinese family names; most Chinese family names consist of only a single character. It is an occupational surname, literally meaning "control" (s?) "horses" (m?); in a similar way as the English surname Marshall is derived from the Frankish: "mare" (horse) + "skalkoz" (master). The family name originated from one of the offices of the Three Excellencies of the Zhou dynasty. The name has also been anglicised as "Szema".
The Sima clan were said to be the descendants of the mythological figures Gaoyang and Chongli (Gaoyang's son). They served as xiaguan (; "officers of summer")[a] in the reigns of the mythical emperors Yao and Shun and through the Xia and Shang dynasties. During the Zhou dynasty, officials holding the appointment of xiaguan oversaw military affairs and were collectively known as "xiaguan sima". Cheng Boxiufu (?), a descendant of Chongli, helped King Xuan of the Zhou dynasty consolidate his rule over his kingdom. In return, the king awarded aristocratic status to Cheng Boxiufu's clan. Cheng Boxiufu and his descendants adopted Sima as their family name. In the late Zhou dynasty, the Sima clan migrated to the states of Wei, Zhao and Qin. The Sima family in Qin included Sima Ji, a general who battled alongside Bai Qi during the Battle of Changping. His fifth-generation descendant was Sima Tan, a Han dynasty court astrologer, and his son was Sima Qian, the author of Records of the Grand Historian.
In the late Qin dynasty, Sima Ang served as a general in the insurgent Zhao state and joined other rebel forces in overthrowing the Qin dynasty. After the fall of the Qin dynasty, Sima Ang declared himself the king of a separate state, Yin (?), with its capital in Henei (; in present-day Henan). In the early Han dynasty, Sima Ang's kingdom became a commandery of the Han Empire and his descendants had lived there since.Sima Yi, a descendant of Sima Ang, served as an official, military general and regent of the Cao Wei state in the Three Kingdoms period. His grandson, Sima Yan, usurped the throne from the last Cao Wei emperor and established the Jin dynasty. After the Jin dynasty ended, many members of the Sima clan changed their surname to avoid persecution.