Our Vision: Family Tree and Common Root
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “genealogy” as “an account of a person’s descent from an ancestor or ancestors, by enumeration of intermediate people, or pedigree.” Chinese has an equivalent concept jia pu (家谱) or zong pu (宗谱) and is defined as a document that chronicles the history of all the individuals of a clan or family. Both of these definitions presuppose a top-down view emanating from a progenitor. Historical Chinese tradition generally only tracks the patriarchal-male line. And, the surname or family name determines who is or is not included in the genealogy.
Alternatively, the German concept of ahnentafel, a system that listed a person’s direct ancestors and numbered by the kekulé system, turns the tree upside down. Starting with the individual, they could trace one’s ancestors on both the paternal and the maternal lines. A full double-ancestor ahnentafel chart resembles a butterfly.
The genesis of this project was, in fact, motivated by the ahnentafel spirit of searching for our roots. Over the course of 50 years’ of research, nothing short of a miracle, we recovered details of our genealogical data going back to 1163 CE, all of which embodied in the only extent lead-character typeset printed “1948 Edition of the Bright Creek MA Family Genealogy” (光溪馬氏宗谱). Although this treasured document projects a traditional patriarchal top-down view, for this 2021 digital edition embracing an all-inclusive ahnentafel spirit, it is designed for anyone to extend their tree ahnentafel-wise. Hence, the system allows each user to digitally construct his or her own ahnentafel lineage as well as having the ability to have a top-down view from a progenitor’s viewpoint.
家谱或宗谱是记载氏族或家族历史的文献。中国历史通常只追踪父权制 (男性制)，以祖先为顶视图，宗谱呈现树状结构，发达的根系交错绵延，其中的姓氏决定了该家谱中包含或不包含谁。而德国人“阿嫩塔费尔” (ahnentafel) 的构图将一棵树颠倒了。该系统列出了一个人的直接祖先, 并从个人开始, 由凯库莱 (kekulé) 系统编号，每个人就可以在父系和母系上追踪祖先。完整的双祖先“阿嫩塔费尔图表”类似蝴蝶。这份珍贵的1948年版《光溪马氏宗谱》文件投射出传统的父权制自上而下的观点. 但这新的2021年电子版 （有史以来的第12版），我们打算秉承包罗万象的“阿嫩塔费尔”精神，每个人都可以构建自己的“阿嫩塔费尔”谱系。
- We should heed our ancestors’ words in the historic Genealogy:
- 1847 Edition Preface: “Just as a country has its history, a family has its genealogy.”
- 1884 edition preface: “All things originate from heaven, all people originate from their ancestors.”
- 1847 年宗譜序说“家之有谱, 猶國之有史.”
- 1884 年宗譜序说“万物本孚天, 人本孚祖.”