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Temple of Confucius, Qufu

Temple of Confucius, Qufu

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The Temple of Confucius in Qufu
Qufu
Qufu is a city in southwestern Shandong province, People's Republic of China. It is located at 35° 36′ northern latitude and 117° 02′ east, about south of the provincial capital Jinan and northeast of the prefecture seat at Jining...

, Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

 Province of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, is the "original", largest and most famous of the temples of Confucius
Temple of Confucius
A Temple of Confucius or Confucian temple is a temple devoted to the memory of Confucius and the sages and philosophers of Confucianism.- History :...

 in China and East Asia.

Since 1994, the Temple of Confucius has been part of the UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

 "Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu". The two other parts of the site are the nearby Kong Family Mansion , where Confucius descendants lived, and the Cemetery of Confucius
Cemetery of Confucius
The Cemetery of Confucius, also known under its Chinese name Kong Lin , is a cemetery of the Kong clan in Confucius' hometown Qufu...

  a couple kilometers to the north, where Confucius and many of his descendant are buried. The three sites are collectively known in Qufu as San Kong (三孔), i.e. "The Three Confucian [sites]".

History


Within two years after the death of Confucius, his former house in Qufu was already consecrated as a temple by the Prince of Lu
Lu (state)
The State of Lu, was a Zhou Dynasty ducal vassal state before and during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. Founded in the 10th century BC, its dukes used Ji as their family name. The first duke was Boqin |Qi]] and to the south by the powerful state of Chu...

. In 205 BC, Emperor Gao
Gaozu of Han
Emperor Gao , commonly known within China by his temple name Gaozu , personal name Liu Bang, was the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, ruling over China from 202 BC to 195 BC...

 of the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 was the first emperor to offer sacrifices to the memory of Confucius in Qufu. He set an example for many emperors and high officials to follow. Later, emperors would visit Qufu after their enthronement or on important occasions such as a successful war. In total, 12 different emperors paid 20 personal visits to Qufu to worship Confucius. About 100 others sent their deputies for 196 official visits. The original three-room house of Confucius was removed from the temple complex during a rebuilding undertaken in 611 AD. In 1012 and in 1094, during the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

, the temple was extended into a design with three sections and four courtyards, around which eventually more than 400 rooms were arranged. Fire and vandalism destroyed the temple in 1214, during the Jin Dynasty
Jin Dynasty, 1115–1234
The Jīn Dynasty ; Khitan language: Nik, Niku; ; 1115–1234), also known as the Jurchen Dynasty, was founded by the Wanyan clan of the Jurchens, the ancestors of the Manchus who established the Qing Dynasty some 500 years later...

. It was restored to its former extent by the year 1302 during the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

. Shortly thereafter, in 1331, the temple was framed in an enclosure wall modelled on the Imperial palace.

After another devastation by fire in 1499, the temple was finally restored to its present scale. In 1724, yet another fire largely destroyed the main hall and the sculptures it contained. The subsequent restoration was completed in 1730. Many of the replacement sculptures were damaged and destroyed during the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

 in 1966. In total, the Temple of Confucius has undergone 15 major renovations, 31 large repairs, and numerous small building measures.

Description



The temple complex is the second largest historical building complex in China (after the Forbidden City
Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum...

), it covers an area of 16,000 square metre
Square metre
The square metre or square meter is the SI derived unit of area, with symbol m2 . It is defined as the area of a square whose sides measure exactly one metre...

s and has a total of 460 rooms. Because the last major redesign following the fire in 1499 took place shortly after the building of the Forbidden City in the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

, the architecture of the Temple of Confucius resembles that of the Forbidden City in many ways.

The main part of the temple consists of 9 courtyards arranged on a central axis, which is oriented in the north-south direction and is 1.3 km
Kilometre
The kilometre is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousand metres and is therefore exactly equal to the distance travelled by light in free space in of a second...

 in length. The first three courtyards have small gates and are planted with tall pine trees, they serve an introductory function. The first (southernmost) gate is named "Lingxing Gate" (棂星门) after a star in the Great Bear
Ursa Major
Ursa Major , also known as the Great Bear, is a constellation visible throughout the year in most of the northern hemisphere. It can best be seen in April...

 constellation, the name suggests that Confucius is a star from heaven. The buildings in the remaining courtyards form the heart of the complex. They are impressive structures with yellow roof-tiles (otherwise reserved for the emperor) and red-painted walls, they are surrounded by dark-green pine trees to create a color contrast with complementary colors
Color theory
In the visual arts, color theory is a body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual impacts of specific color combinations. Although color theory principles first appeared in the writings of Leone Battista Alberti and the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci , a tradition of "colory theory"...

.
The main structures of the temple are:
  • Lingxing Gate (棂星门)
  • Shengshi Gate (圣时门)
  • Hongdao Gate (弘道门)
  • Dazhong Gate (大中门)
  • Thirteen Stele Pavilions (十三碑亭)
  • Dacheng Gate (大成门)
  • Kuiwen Hall (奎文阁, built in 1018, restored in 1504 during the Ming Dynasty
    Ming Dynasty
    The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

     and in 1985)
  • Xing Tan Pavilion (杏坛, Apricot Platform)
  • De Mu Tian Di Arch
  • Liangwu (两庑)
  • Dacheng Hall (大成殿, built in the Qing Dynasty
    Qing Dynasty
    The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

    )
  • Resting Hall (寝殿, dedicated to Confucius' Wife)

Dacheng Hall


The Dacheng Hall , whose name is usually translated as the Hall of Great Perfection or the Hall of Great Achievement, is the architectural center of the present-day complex. The hall covers an area of 54 by 34 m
Metre
The metre , symbol m, is the base unit of length in the International System of Units . Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole , its definition has been periodically refined to reflect growing knowledge of metrology...

 and stands slightly less than 32 m
Metre
The metre , symbol m, is the base unit of length in the International System of Units . Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole , its definition has been periodically refined to reflect growing knowledge of metrology...

 tall. It is supported by 28 richly decorated pillars, each 6 m
Metre
The metre , symbol m, is the base unit of length in the International System of Units . Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole , its definition has been periodically refined to reflect growing knowledge of metrology...

 high and 0.8 m
Metre
The metre , symbol m, is the base unit of length in the International System of Units . Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole , its definition has been periodically refined to reflect growing knowledge of metrology...

 in diameter and carved in one piece out of local rock. The 10 columns on the front side of the hall are decorated with coiled dragons. It is said that these columns were covered during visits by the emperor in order not to arouse his envy. Dacheng Hall served as the principal place for offering sacrifices to the memory of Confucius.

Apricot Platform



In the center of the courtyard in front of Dacheng Hall stands the Xing Tan Pavilion , or the Apricot Platform. It commemorates Confucius teaching his students under an apricot tree. Each year at Qufu and at many other Confucian temples a ceremony is held on September 28 to commemorate Confucius' birthday.

Stele pavilions


A large number of stone stelae
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

 are located on the premises of the Temple of Confucius. A recent book on Confucian stelae in Qufu catalogs around 500 such monuments on the temple's grounds, noting that the list is far from complete. The steles commemorate repeated rebuildings and renovations of the temple complex, contain texts extolling Confucius and imperial edicts granting him new honorary titles. While most of these tablets were originally associated with the Temple of Confucius, some have been moved to the temple's grounds for safekeeping from other sites in Qufu in modern times.

The inscriptions on the stelae are mostly in Chinese, but some of the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 and Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 stelae also have texts, respectively, in Middle Mongolian
Middle Mongolian language
Middle Mongolian is an ancient Mongolic language formerly spoken in the Mongol Empire and later on in Greater Mongolia during the 13th to at least the early 15th century.-Definition and historical precessors:...

 (using the 'Pags-Pa script) and Manchu
Manchu language
Manchu is a Tungusic endangered language spoken in Northeast China; it used to be the language of the Manchu, though now most Manchus speak Mandarin Chinese and there are fewer than 70 native speakers of Manchu out of a total of nearly 10 million ethnic Manchus...

.

Some of the most important imperial stelae are concentrated in the area known as the "Thirteen Stele Pavilions" (十三碑亭, Sanshi Bei Ting). These 13 pavilions are arranged in two rows in the narrow courtyard between the Pavilion of the Star of Literature (Kuiwen Ge) in the south and the Gates of Great Perfection (Dacheng Men) in the north.

The northern row consists of five pavilions, each of which houses one large stele carried by a giant stone tortoise (bixi
Bixi (tortoise)
Bixi , also called guifu or baxia , is a stone tortoise, used as a pedestal for a stele or tablet. Tortoise-mounted stelae have been traditionally used in the funerary complexes of Chinese emperors and other dignitaries. Later, they have also been used to commemorate an important event, such as...

) and crowned with dragons; they were installed during the Kangxi
Kangxi Emperor
The Kangxi Emperor ; Manchu: elhe taifin hūwangdi ; Mongolian: Энх-Амгалан хаан, 4 May 1654 –20 December 1722) was the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the first to be born on Chinese soil south of the Pass and the second Qing emperor to rule over China proper, from 1661 to 1722.Kangxi's...

, Yongzheng
Yongzheng Emperor
The Yongzheng Emperor , born Yinzhen , was the fifth emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty and the third Qing emperor from 1722 to 1735. A hard-working ruler, Yongzheng's main goal was to create an effective government at minimal expense. Like his father, the Kangxi Emperor, Yongzheng used military...

 and Qianlong
Qianlong Emperor
The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. The fourth son of the Yongzheng Emperor, he reigned officially from 11 October 1735 to 8 February 1796...

 eras of the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 (between Kangxi 22 and Qianlong 13, i.e. A.D. 1683-1748. These imperial stelae stand 3.8 to 4 m tall, their turtles being up to 4.8 m long. They weigh up to 65 tons (including the stele, the bixi turtle, and the plinth under it).

The southern row consists of eight pavilions, housing smaller steles, several in each. Four of them house stelae from the Jurchen Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) and the Mongol Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

; the others, from the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

.

A large number of smaller tablets of various eras, without bixi pedestals, are lined in the open air in "annexes" around the four corners of the Thirteen Stele Pavilions area.

Four important tortoise-borne imperial stelae from the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 can be found in the courtyard south of the Star of Literature Pavilion. This area has two stele pavilions. The eastern pavilion houses a stele from Year 4 of the Hongwu
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

 era (1371), designating deities associated with geographical directions etc. The western pavilion contains a stele from Year 15 of the Yongle
Yongle Emperor
The Yongle Emperor , born Zhu Di , was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China from 1402 to 1424. His Chinese era name Yongle means "Perpetual Happiness".He was the Prince of Yan , possessing a heavy military base in Beiping...

 era (1417), commemorating a renovation of the temple. The other two stelae are in the open air: a Year 4 of the Chenghua
Chenghua Emperor
The Chenghua Emperor was Emperor of the Ming dynasty in China, between 1464 and 1487. His era name means "Accomplished change".-Childhood:Born Zhu Jianshen, he was the Zhengtong Emperor's son. He was only 2 years old when his father, the Zhengtong emperor, was captured by the Oirat Mongols and...

 era (1468) stele
in front of the eastern pavilion, and Year 17 of the Hongzhi
Hongzhi Emperor
The Hongzhi Emperor was emperor of the Ming dynasty in China between 1487 and 1505. Born Zhu Youcheng , he was the son of the Chenghua Emperor and his reign as emperor of China is called the Hongzhi...

 era (1504) stele in front of the western pavilion, also commemorating temple repair projects. Dozens more of smaller, turtle-less stelae are located in this area as well.

In popular culture


In Sid Meier's Civilization IV
Civilization IV
Sid Meier's Civilization IV is a turn-based strategy, 4X computer game released in 2005 and developed by lead designer Soren Johnson under the direction of Sid Meier and Meier's studio Firaxis Games. It is the fourth installment of the Civilization series...

, the Kong Miao is a religious complex that can be built by a Great Prophet, thus establishing a holy shrine dedicated to Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 in the Confucian holy city.

See also

  • Mount Ni
    Mount Ni
    Mount Ni is a hill about 30 km to the southeast of the city of Qufu in Shandong Province, China. The hill is culturally significant because it is traditionally regarded as the birthplace of Confucius...

     near Qufu, traditionally believed to be the birth place of Confucius
  • Temple of Yan Hui
    Temple of Yan Hui
    The Temple of Yan Hui, more commonly known as simply the Temple of Yan or the Yan Temple , is a temple in Qufu, China, dedicated to the memory of Yan Hui , the favorite disciple of Confucius.-Location and layout:...

    , another temple in Qufu built in honor of Confucius' favorite student
    Yan Hui
    Yan Hui ; was a late 13th century Chinese painter who lived during the Southern Song and early Yuan dynasties. His specific dates of birth and death are not known.-Biography:...

  • Zoucheng
    Zoucheng
    Zoucheng is a county-level city in the south of Shandong province in China. Historically, the name Zouxian, in a variety of transcriptions, was used for the city as well....

    , a nearby city with the temple of the "second sage" Mencius
    Mencius
    Mencius was a Chinese philosopher who was arguably the most famous Confucian after Confucius himself.-Life:Mencius, also known by his birth name Meng Ke or Ko, was born in the State of Zou, now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng , Shandong province, only thirty kilometres ...


External links