Man with 39 wives and head of 'world's largest family' dies

·2-min read

A 76-year-old man who had 39 wives and 94 children and was said to be the head of the world's largest family has died in northeast India, the chief minister of his home state said.

Ziona Chana, the head of a local Christian sect that allows polygamy, died on Sunday (local time), Zoramthanga, the chief minister of Mizoram and who goes by one name, said in a tweet.

With a total of 167 members, the family is the world's largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33.

A family photograph of the Ziona family on January 30, 2011 in Baktawang, Mizoram, India. Source: Richard Grange/Barcroft India via Getty Images
Ziona Chana had 39 wives and 94 children. Source: Richard Grange/Barcroft India via Getty Images

Winston Blackmore, the head of a polygamous Mormon sect in Canada, has about 150 children from 27 wives – 178 people in total.

Mr Ziona lived with his family in a vast, four-storey pink structure with about 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in Mizoram that became a tourist attraction as a result, according to Zoramthanga.

Ziona Chana married first wife at 17

The sect, named "Chana", was founded by Mr Ziona's father in 1942 and has a membership of hundreds of families. 

Mr Ziona married his first wife when he was 17 and claimed he once married 10 wives in a single year.

They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.

Despite his family's huge size, Mr Ziona told Reuters in a 2011 interview he wanted to grow it even further.

"I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry," he said.

"I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man."

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