Chinese family reunites 500 members for rare photo

Picture of more than 500 members of the Ren family in China Image copyright Zhang Liangzong
Image caption Family members came from Beijing, Shanghai, Xinjiang and Taiwan for the reunion

More than 500 members of one Chinese family have posed for the ultimate family photo.

The pictures were taken at a Ren family reunion at Shishe village in China's eastern province of Zhejiang.

It was held last week during the Lunar New Year period, which is usually marked by the Chinese with large family gatherings and meals.

Photographer Zhang Liangzong took the pictures with a drone in front of basalt formations near Shishe.

He told the BBC that the Ren family, which originates from the village, can be traced back 851 years, but their family tree had not been updated for more than eight decades.

Village elders recently began updating the family tree records and managed to track down at least 2,000 living descendants spanning seven generations, Mr Zhang said.

They marked the family tree's completion by holding a massive reunion, and managed to gather more than 500 people.

Picture of more than 500 members of the Ren family in China Image copyright Zhang Liangzong
Image caption The family members posed for the photo in front of unique basalt formations near the village

Family members came from Beijing, Shanghai, Xinjiang and Taiwan.

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Village chief Ren Tuanjie told state news agency Xinhua: "One reason was to understand where our descendants have spread to, where they have ended up and where they live, to account to our ancestors."

"And another reason was also to let descendants all over the country know their roots, so that wherever they go they will not forget where they come from," said Mr Ren, who belongs to the 26th generation of Rens and whose name happens to mean "reunion" in Chinese.

Although large family photos are common, many in China were taken aback by the scale of the Rens' photographs, which were featured widely in national media and prompted headlines such as "Do these family members even know one another?".

There were also jokes aplenty on microblogging network Weibo. "What if they meet someone they like in the group? Can they still get married?" asked one user.

Others made reference to the Chinese tradition of adults giving money in red packets to children during the new year. "When they give out red packets, will they start to cry?" said one Weibo user.

"The youngest family members will be collecting New Year's money until their hands go weak," joked another commenter.

Reporting by the BBC's Yashan Zhao.

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