28 September 2009

China: The Confucius tree revealed

The Confucius family tree was revealed in the first complete edition (80 volumes with some 2 million names) since 70 years ago. The ceremony took place in the great temple in Confucius' home town of Qufu. His name is Kong Fuzi in Mandarin.

The Telegraph UK carried the story here.

"After more than 70 years our family is united again, and we have gathered to witness this historical moment which is not only a commemoration of our ancestors but a continuation of our nation's history," said 83-year-old Kong Deyong.
During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) the family's history was interrupted and the Red Guards destroyed family artifacts and persecuted his descendants.In the 1990s, however, the ruling Communist Party again turned to traditional Confucian ideas and emphasising the need for social harmony and respect for authority.

A recent book on Confucius' sayings sold 10 million copies and a £10 million film on his life began production this year. The ceremony was attended by leading Communist Party officials who praised the 10-year project as a national achievement.

In a nod to modern times, the register will contain the names of women for the first time and will be available on a computer database. A copy will be deposited at China's National Library in Beijing.

"The completion of this genealogy is a symbol that China is trying once again to revive its traditional culture," Kong Lingshao, deputy chief of the Propaganda Department in Qufu told The Daily Telegraph.
The Kong Clan Register, which goes back more than 1,000 years, had not been updated since 1937. The custom is that it should have been revised every 30-years, but the Cultural Revolution precluded it.

With family records scattered or destroyed, the restoration of the complete genealogy has taken more than a decade of international research, conducted by individual Kong clans in China, but also in Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.
Shanghai resident Kong Ming, began researching his branch from Hangzhou in 1998, after his elderly grandfather dug up the coffin in which he had hidden family records to escape persecution.

The young businessman spent more than £40,000 reconstructing the 800-year-old family history. He sent out 100,000 advertisement and posted flyers all over the city to recover lost links.

The Telegraph UK story included the story of a British teen, the 79th generation descendant of Confucius, who attended the ceremony. He is the half-Chinese grandson of the clan's leader, Kong Deyong. It appears from the story that his relatives believe he will be given greater family responsibilities in the future. Says the young man:

"It is stressful. I think about those responsibilities every day, I really do," he says, in between telling a story about how Confucian ideas win him respect on the football pitch, "I know I have to learn Chinese, but it's got to be a hobby rather than a job. It's very stressful to think about it."
Some say that in 30 or 60 years, the young man may follow his grandfather and lead the next revision of the Clan Register.

Read the complete story at the link above.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! I don't why but this reminds that I once read that in India there are professional genealogists who memorize other people's family trees going back hundreds of years, at least, and who will recite them for a fee.