Confucian thought may still hold sway over Chinese society, but how many of the sage's descendents walk amongst us?
People who claim to be related to the First Teacher can now check their ties with a genetic test.
The new test will cost just over 1,000 yuan (US$125), according to the Xinhua News Agency.
"We would like to help unconfirmed claimants test their DNA, and establish a Confucius-DNA database," it quoted Deng Yajun, a DNA expert from the Beijing Institute of Genomics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as saying.
The institute's first step will be to build the database, which will contain DNA records of many of Confucius's confirmed descendants.
Once they have the database the experts will be able to compare samples with fresh DNA taken from people who want to check whether they are related to the sage.
How the scientists have obtained a sample of Confucius's DNA has not been explained.
"One of the most difficult parts of the project is confirming the blood connections of numerous claimants," said Kong Dewei, one of the editors of the new database, who has the same Chinese surname of Confucius "Kong."
Confucius, a philosopher, statesman and educator, is thought to have more than 3 million descendants, with many concentrated around Qufu in Shandong Province.
There are an estimated 2.5 million descendants on the Chinese mainland and 100,000 in the Republic of Korea, with the rest in the United States, Malaysia and Singapore.
The China Confucius Foundation last week announced it will publish a standard portrait of the ancient philosopher in September in order to give him a single, recognizable identity around the world.
Source: China Daily