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September 25, 2009

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Confucian family tree branches out

CHINA celebrated the completion of the first full revision of its philosopher Confucius' family tree in 72 years at his birthplace Qufu City, east China's Shandong Province yesterday, three days before his "2,560th birthday."

About 1,000 people, including Confucius' descendants from around the world, government officials and scholars, attended the ceremony at the Confucian Temple in Qufu.

Kong Deyong, a 77th-generation descendant of the revered Chinese philosopher, disclosed the family tree covered with red silk at 9am.

Kong then presented the family tree to the National Library of China, Taipei's "national central library" and the Qufu government.

Kong said: "Confucius' family tree is a national treasure."

The family tree has 43,000 pages and is bound in 80 books. It records all 83 generations of Confucius' offspring of more than 2 million people and is believed to be the biggest in the world, Kong said.

The latest revision, and fifth revision, took 10 years to complete and cost the philosopher's offspring more than 10 million yuan (US$1.46 million, he said.

The new list, which includes minorities, overseas and female descendants for the first time, added more than 1.4 million names than the previous revision in 1937, said Kong Dewei, head of the family tree editorial office.

Confucius' family tree provided important historical material for studies and research into China's historical development, said Liu Qian, deputy head of the Chinese National Academy of Arts.

"This is the most exciting moment in my life," said Kong Dejun, a former teacher at Cambridge University. She came from Switzerland to attend the ceremony.

"In terms of genes, Confucius' blood is flowing in our body," she said. "The revision shows Chinese females' status is improving."

The large-scale revision of Confucius' family tree dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The family agreed that every 60 years a revision should be made.

However, the tree was only revised four times before the latest version.

Kong Deyong set up a Confucius' revision association in Hong Kong in 1998 and set up 530 revision branches in the world to collect the new descendants.


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