Image of Marpa the Translator from the lineage tree of Terchen Barway Dorje
According to the classical Tibetan histories such as the History of the Kagyu by Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa, originally there were two branches of the Kagyu. The one that was brought to Tibet by Lord Marpa the Translator is collectively called the Marpa Kagyu. The other, which was brought to Tibet by the learned siddha Khyungpo the Yogin, is called the Shangpa Kagyu.
The Marpa Kagyu eventually came to be held preeminently by Lord Gampopa, who was Jetsün Milarepa's sun-like disciple. (Milarepa's moon-like disciple was Lord Rechungpa).
The Marpa Kagyu can be divided into four primary and eight secondary branches. The four primary divisions were founded by four disciples of Lord Gampopa. The eight secondary divisions were founded by eight disciples of one of those four. We therefore consider the forebears of all of the four primary and eight secondary branches of the Kagyu to be the Lords Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa.
The four primary divisions include (I) the Tsalpa Kagyu (so named after Tsalpa Tsondru Dragpa, a student of Gampopa's nephew, Öngom Tsultrim Nyingpo); (II) the Barom Kagyu founded by Gampopa’s direct disciple and personal attendant, Barom Darma Wangchuk; (III) the Karma Kagyu founded by another of Gampopa’s disciples, the first Gyalwang Karmapa, Dusum Kyenpa; and (IV) the Phagmo Dru or Phagdru Kagyu founded by Gampopa's disciple, one of the three men of Kham, Je Phagmo Drupa Khampa Dorje Gyalpo.
The eight secondary divisions are all branches of the Phagdru Kagyu. They are (i) the Lingre or Drukpa Kagyu, (ii) the Drikung Kagyu, (iii) Taklung Kagyu, (iv) Marak Kagyu (also known as Martsang Kagyu), (v) Shugsep Kagyu, (vi) Yelpa Kagyu, (vii) Trophu Kagyu, and (viii) Yangpa Kagyu (also known as Yangzang Kagyu). At present, the Yangpa Kagyu basically exists only in name. The Shugsep Kagyu does still exist, but mostly as an abbey of female monastics. The Drukpa Kagyu and Drikung Kagyu are very well known.