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Ancestors from the Far East

Chinese ancestors

Jia Pu or Zu Pu

This is the Chinese genealogical record and it contains the origins of a surname, the family tree, information on migration and a certain amount of biographical information.

These records can go back as far as the Shang dynasty and were written, recorded with a system of objects and knots and/or passed down orally.

A Jia Pu usually begins when a man moves to a new place and starts a family there. It should continue to a current generation.

It records names, aliases, dates of birth and death and also notes of achievement, education, occupation, etc.

Sons and brothers are recorded for each generation. Women do not feature prominently on a traditional Jia Pu, as they are considered to join their husband’s family upon marriage.

Nevertheless, their names, at least, should appear on both the Jia Pu of their birth family and that of their husband’s family.

These records are held in archives and libraries in China.


Chinese surnames can be very useful for helping identify the region from which your ancestor came.

Once you have established a likely region, it will be easier to find a regional library or archive which may be able to help you make a link to your family’s Jia Pu.

Calendar converter

This is an essential tool for any family historian trying to trace events in China.


  • The National Library of China has an English version of its website
  • Asiawind has some interesting articles about Chinese communities and culture, including one on Hakka genealogy
  • Siyi Genealogy has a good collection of Chinese genealogy sites
  • Another website containing useful information is GenealogyLinks