Female descendants included in Confucius family tree for the first time

"In China, where men have traditionally been regarded as superior to women, and in a family in which tradition is strictly observed, it is of great significance that female descendants of Confucius will now be included in the family tree," said Liu Shifan, Vice President of the International Confucius Association.

Kong Dehong, Dean of the Confucius Genealogy Office at the Association of Compilation Work for Confucius' Genealogy, said that female descendants would not be added to past compilations of Confucius' family tree, where the spouses of male descendants were marked behind their husbands' names in smaller characters.

The current project to trace Confucius' genealogy began in 1996 and is the fifth of its kind. But this time, female descendants will be included, and their names will be written in the same size as their male counterparts. The names of the female descendants' husbands will be printed next to them and marked in smaller characters. If the children of female descendants carry the surname Kong, they will also be included in the genealogy.

According to Kong Dewei, Dean of the Editorial Department of the Confucius Genealogy Association, Confucius' female descendants account for some 20 percent of the family, roughly 200,000 descendants. However, research is still underway, so the data has not been finalized.

Pang Pu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), says it is obvious that Confucius was prejudiced towards women. Confucius said that it is "the women and the small that are difficult to deal with". Apart from physiological differences, the traditional reason women were discriminated against was the belief that following their marriage, they were no longer family.

Kong Deyong, a 77th generation Confucius descendant and Head of the Association of Compilation Work for Confucius' Genealogy found only his son's name was engraved on the tombstone when he paid his respects to the ancestral graves. That a girl's name could not be carved on a gravestone made a deep impression on him.

The descendants of the generation with the De name launched a preparatory meeting for the fifth compilation of Confucius' Genealogy in 1996, at which they proposed female descendants be included in the family tree. The proposal was agreed upon by all Confucius' descendants.

However, some descendants have mixed feeling about the inclusion of female family members. Kong Dewei explained that in some places, female descendants' names do not appear in the family tree because it is tradition to only record the names of the males. A lot of people cling to the idea that a married daughter is like "spilt water" ĘC female descendants will not be regarded as Confucius' offspring. Generally speaking, except in some rural areas, most of Confucius' descendants include females in the family tree.

Kong Dewei also advised that the youngest known descendant of Confucius is a girl, named Kong Nianying. Born in 1995, the girl is a descendant of the 83rd generation with the name Nian.

Living in Jinan, the capital city of east China's Shandong province, 80-year-old Kong Lingren, former Vice Chairwoman of All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), said that she felt happy and gratified when she heard Confucius' female descendants would at last be included in the family tree.

Confucius was a great philosopher and teacher. He founded Confucianism in ancient China, and the thoughts and doctrine of Confucius have had an enormous influence on China's people and history for many generations. Confucius advocated an optimistic attitude, attention to moral code and historic experiences, but he also believed in speaking out and he considered men to be superior to women.

This family tree is a vital part of China's traditional culture. Records of Confucius' genealogy have been maintained for 2000 years, and may be regarded as work of art in terms of style, content and collection. The International Confucius Association believes that Confucius' genealogy is a unique branch of Chinese traditional culture, and has crucial value in research on anthropology, demology clan and genealogy studies.

This is the fifth compilation of Confucius' genealogy; the last record was completed in 1937. It is believed that the surveying and registration of Confucius descendants has ended, and the information is now being compiled. The new family tree is expected to be published by 2009.

By People's Daily Online

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