A 76th-generation descendant of Confucius (孔子) has developed a collection of artifacts featuring the sage as a “personal responsibility and hobby,” and now boasts a miniature private museum which occupies around 50 ping (165m2) of space.
The 84 year-old Chiayi City resident, Kung Ling-hsin (孔令鑫), has spent more than three decades and a small fortune amassing the artifacts, which range from bronze statues and sculptures through to collections of drawings, stamps and key-chains.
The exhibition hosts many treasures, including thousands of books of which the 80-book-long Kung family tree — which is listed by Guinness World Records as the longest family tree — is a part.
There are also thousands of other pieces in the collection, including a bronze statue which Kung acquired after hearing that it was to be disposed of. A rarely-seen double-sided tapestry is also part of the Confucius exhibition.
Kung, who is also a stamp collector, had several thermostatic shelves given to him by his eldest daughter-in-law so that the philatelic collection can be best preserved.
Having joined the volunteer force during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Kung followed the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) when it fled to Taiwan in 1949. After marrying his wife, Chang Kui-fang (張貴芳), he started a business selling books and stationery and then entered the electronics business.
Kung said he became interested in relics and cultural artifacts related to Confucius after he learned in elementary school that he was a distant blood relation of the great Chinese scholar.
“I felt that promoting his ideals, and the culture that had grown up around him, was a responsibility,” Kung said, adding that it had gradually become a hobby as well.
“I collected so many things that there was no space left to put them,” Kung said, adding that he recently moved into a new house where his eldest son had made the entire second floor into an exhibition hall.
Looking back over his life in Taiwan, Kung said that in the past family tree records were often seen as sacred and were not easily viewed by non-family members. However, Kung said that he felt otherwise, and was happy for members of the public and school children to visit him and his museum.
Kung has also lent his collection to the Chiayi City Government when it hosted Confucius-related exhibitions, adding that the city government had also invited him to host ceremonies honoring Confucius on Teachers’ Day.