Confucius' family tree goes digital

Updated: 2012-11-15 13:34


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Descendants of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius have digitized books delineating their family tree, which is believed to be the world's largest, to make it easier to revise.

The original paper collection of the family tree containing a record of all 83 generations of Confucius' offspring of over 2 million people is currently 43,000 pages long and takes up 80 books, but it will be able to fit on a thumb drive after being digitized.

The digital version has embedded search bars, diagrams and analytical functions that can swiftly sort out demographic and other statistical information, said Kong Deyong, a 77th-generation descendant of Confucius, also surnamed Kong, and chief compiler of the great thinker's genealogy books.

He said the move has made it much easier to revise the family tree.

"Editors can make changes on a computer and then send the updated packages to users via the Internet," he said. "It also ensures that the family tree will always be up-to-date."

All nine versions of the historical revisions will be digitized, and customized versions for the family's descendants in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and Japan will also be released, Kong said.

Programmers have designed a tree-shaped viewing system for the program, said Wei Jie, who is heading the digitalization.

"Enter a name in the search bar and you can get the complete hierarchy of the family tree with only one click," he said. "It takes only a second to identify a Kong-surnamed person's immediate family members, as well as their extended family and location."

A large-scale revision of Confucius' family tree can trace its history back to China's Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when the family agreed to revise and update the name list every 30 years and overhaul it every 60 years.

However, for various reasons, the family record has only been revised five times. The latest update, which for the first time includes ethnic minorities, women and overseas relatives, took 10 years to carry out and was completed in 2009.


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