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  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Updated: 10:04am

Study finds single bloodline among self-claimed Confucius descendants

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 3:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 3:00am

A research team at Fudan University in Shanghai says it has found genetic evidence to prove that most of the people who claim to be descendants of the ancient sage Confucius come from a single bloodline.

Han Sheng, a professor of history involved in the project, said the researchers came to that conclusion after a comprehensive analysis of DNA samples collected from dozens of families who trace their origin to the philosopher born some 25 centuries ago in what is now Shandong province.

"It is a significant finding. That's all that we can say now," Han said.

The team's research paper is now being reviewed by academic peers before it is submitted to an international academic journal.

Though the existence of a single bloodline is important, it will be difficult to prove conclusively that it leads to Confucius because there is no actual DNA from the sage.

The study is the latest effort by the Fudan University researchers to investigate historical myths with modern DNA technology. Earlier, the team made headlines around the world after they announced they had decoded the DNA of Cao Cao, a great warlord from the Three Kingdoms period (AD208-AD280) who was posthumously made an emperor.

The current study, if its conclusions are proven, will be a step towards settling the long-running debate over whether descendants of Confucius really do exist today.

Because Confucius was an intellectual founding father of Chinese civilisation, his descendants historically have been given special honours by the authorities.

From the beginning of the Ming dynasty in the 14th century, descendants of Confucius received official titles and honours from the central government. This practice was only stopped after the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911.

Today, many people on the mainland and in Taiwan and Hong Kong claim to be descendants of the ancient philosopher.

Han said the method used in the Confucius study was similar to that used on Cao Cao two years ago: the researchers compared the Y chromosome - which passes from father to son - of the DNA samples they collected from people who claimed to descended from Confucius. Han said the results showed that these people do share a common bloodline.

Without a DNA sample from the sage, it was not possible to be certain they were descendants of Confucius.

However, unlike another great sage, Lao Tze , Confucius is a well-documented historical figure and few people question his existence.

Still, many scientists were sceptical of the researchers' claim. They said it was based on many hypotheses that could not be independently verified.

Su Bing, an expert in comparative genomics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Kunming , Yunnan province, said: "One of the hypotheses is that Confucius has an unbroken male lineage for more than 2,000 years."

Confucius had one son, Kong Li, who died before his father and whose wife remarried.

Some question whether the self-proclaimed Confucius clan really does descend from the sage. Su said another challenge was that there was no DNA sample from the great sage himself.


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This article is now closed to comments

Everyone has an unbroken blood line from one or other of the first humans.
Wimpy psychopath handily eliminated, no sweat
the forum returned to normal exchange of opinions
The author should note that there is also a sizable population of the Aisin Gioro still living in China and around the world.
So who cares?
Reminds me of Holy B Holy G
that I read long long time ago
following the lineage of JC,
to mostly frenchmen: … Debussy, Mitterrand, …(?)
and another about the discovery of ossuaries
supposedly containing remains of the JC family
and yet another about 75% of nowaday’s Mongolians
being descendants of Genghis Khan
In contrast, the Oxford professor’s Seven Daughters of Eve
was boring fantasies after its informative introduction
Interesting stuff because it’s harmless and rather irrelevant
Pay NatGeo $100(?) with your buccal sample
it will trace your progenitors’ routes out of Africa
Findings seem reliable when comparing trails of relatives and friends
of various racial and national backgrounds
Confucius, like many other famous people,
was illegitimate with an unknown father
A great and profound philosopher nevertheless
that shallow dilettantes tend to criticize
without any attempt to read
or even if they have tried to read
because of their limited intelligence
they couldn't even begin to grasp entry level preliminaries
I have a single blood line from Adam (and Eve).
Remember these university research guys have to publish or be dammed.
Oh lord, more confucius nonsense!!!
Su Bing's emphasis on the significance of an "unbroken male lineage for more than 2,000 years" as if it were remarkable is misleading. It would be extremely remarkable and against all odds if, among all the many, many descendants in any generation, not a single male were to be found. The more years go by, the more hugely improbable it becomes that there is no male descendant. So the only relevant question about male heirs is in the very first one or two generations. The remaining 2000 years look after themselves.


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