JINAN, July 25 (Xinhua) -- Confucius, who looked down
upon women, probably never expected that his female descendants would eventually
be included in his family tree, which for generations has ignored the second
Having women in Confucius' genealogy is the first for
China's greatest teacher, but also a rarity in the whole history of genealogy in
China where a centuries-old mentality has traditionally valued men and belittled
The thoughts of Confucius (551-479 BC), a
philosopher, educator and founder of Confucianism in the late Spring and Autumn
Period (770-476 BC), are still very influential in Chinese society.
"The new practice in compiling genealogies is a
revolution in China, which has a tradition of undervaluing women. The fact that
it is Confucius' family, with its reverence for tradition, is a significant
symbol," said Prof. Liu Shifan, vice president of the International Association
According to Kong Dehong, in the past women
descendants were always excluded from the Confucius Genealogy. The spouses of
male descendants, marked in small characters behind the names of their husbands,
were almost hidden.
In the new 5th family tree, which was kicked off in
1996, women descendants will be written in the same size characters as men.
Spouses of female descendants will be marked in small letters behind the names
of their wives.
Kong Dewei, head of the Confucius Genealogy editorial
office, said so far as the office knew, women descendants make up less than
200,000, or approximately 20 percent, of the total. The figure will change as
the compilation work advances, Kong Dewei added.
Confucius was recorded in the Analects as saying,"
Women and people of low birth are very hard to deal with. If you are friendly
with them, they get out of hand, and if you keep your distance, they resent it."
"This citation takes it for granted that men are
superior to women. The Chinese used to think a married woman no longer belonged
to her original family," said Pang Pu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of
Today this point of view is still deeply rooted in
some parts of China, particularly in rural areas, making it difficult for the
Genealogy to include every female descendant of Confucius.
Confucius' descendants living in cities are usually
more willing than their rural peers to include women in the family tree.
Kong Dewei said as far as the compilers know, the
youngest Confucius descendant is a girl named Kong Nianying born in 1995.
Kong Lingren, a 76th generation descendant of the
Confucian family and former vice chairwoman of the All-China Women's Federation,
said as a woman, she was delighted to hear about the inclusion of female
descendants in the family tree. In her 80s, she now lives in Jinan, capital city
of east China's Shandong Province.
Confucian thoughts have profoundly influenced Chinese
society for more than two thousand years. Apart from a positive attitude toward
life and the world and respect for morality and virtue, Confucianism also
contains some negative elements, including a neglect of innovation and scorn for
Family trees are an important part of traditional
Chinese culture. They record priceless historical information and represent a
precious legacy for Chinese people. Enditem