Friday, April 22, 2016

Ancestral Shrine of the Chen Family 海南陈家祖祠


My elder brother-in-law, together with his two sons and their families, brought me to offer prayers at the ancestral shrine of the Chen family. He called along a distant relative and village elder who is knowledgeable on performing the appropriate rituals and services.

The shrine is set in a tranquil environment, amidst padi fields in a neighbouring village.


It was very interesting and exciting to learn about the history of the Chen family. The first ancestor of the Chen family was a court official who was posted to Hainan island. He later decided to stay on and had a son. The son had two sons and the extended family kept multiplying. Today, recorded in our Chen family lineage database are more than 4000 blood related male family members who are scattered all over the world. WOW!

My late father-in-law thought there were only four male descendants to carry on the Chen family name. Never would he know there are in fact 1000 times more descendants. We now have 23 generations in the Chen family.

My husband and I are looking forward to meeting many of them at the next annual ancestor worship (ancestor veneration) ceremony. Whee!


A surprise awaited me when the ancestor veneration ceremony was over. Elder brother-in-law brought out some firecrackers to celebrate the joyous occasion.

Unbelievable, but the Hainanese men on this island are still conservative, they do not include the women in the ancestor veneration. I am touched and secretly pleased that my brother-in-law has done such an extra-ordinary feat for me.

我们的海南陈氏祖谱记载了非常有趣和令人兴奋的陈氏家族历史。这份族谱不间断、详细记录了海南陈氏600年家族史,23代族人, 散布在世界各地超过4000位有血缘关系的陈氏男性家庭成员。

陈氏家族的始祖是一名中原官员, 由朝廷派来海南岛。后来,他决定留下来定居, 并生了一个儿子。他的儿子生了两个儿子, 其后开枝散叶, 子孙倍增。

我和先生都期待着在下一年返鄉祭祖时, 和我们的许多族亲见面。


  1. How many generations ago did your ancestors move to Singapore? My family has lost trace/information of where in China our ancestors came from. Actually, some days I'm not so sure all my ancestors actually came from China... ;b

    1. My hubby's side, they came two generations ago. It took my husband and I 6 years to finally track them down. Glad that our relatives in China were maintaining and updating the records. I was absolutely speechless and awed when I saw the names of the first few generations. We are going to update and publish the records, a tedious process. Expect to complete in year 2018.