With a history of about 2,500 years, Confucius' family tree is the longest family tree in the world, according to a listing from the 2005 Guinness World Records. Last updated in 1937, the family tree included a total of 560,000 members.
The Confucius Family Tree Update Association disclosed that it is updating the latest version of the family tree, which will include at least 1.8 million people from the Confucius clan. In the past, female members were not listed in the family tree. The most recent version includes all female descendants, minorities, and foreign members.
According to the Beijing Morning News , the Confucius family tree covers over 80 continuous generations.
According to an arrangement since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Confucius' family history has been extensively revised and updated every 60 years. The tree had been updated only four times, once in Ming Dynasty, twice in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and the last time in 1937.
The Ming Dynasty version of the family tree has been lost. The earlier Qing Dynasty version has 20,000 family members, while the later Qing Dynasty version included 100,000 people. Kong Deyong, from the 77th generation in the Confucius geneology, said that in 1998 Confucius' descendents registered a Confucius Family Tree Update Association in Hong Kong. The association started to collect information of the families to prepare for the fifth update.
Currently, the association has collected over 1.2 million members' information and confirmed that the family has extended to the 83rd generation. The youngest member is a teenage girl, whose first name starts with Nian and who currently lives in Liaoning Province. .
The complete updated version of the family tree will be published in 2009, Confucius' 2560th birthday. There are about three million living Confucius' descendants, 2.5 million of them live in China and the rest spread out in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, the US, Malaysia, and Singapore.
One special feature of the Confucius' family tree is that every generation follows a specific naming system. For example, the first names of all members in the 75th generation start with “Xiang,” the 76th generation with “Ling,” and the 77th generation with “De.” Thus, one can tell from which generation a member belongs by his or her first name.