The Confucius Temple, Family Seat, and Woods
Qufu, in Shandong Province, was the capital of the ancient State of Lu, dating back some 3,000 years ago. It is regarded as one of the famous historical cities in Chinese history, and it is also the homeland of the late Spring and Autumn-period philosopher and educator known as Confucius. In Chinese, this man is known as Kongzi; he was a historical person who lived from 551 to 479 BC. The passage of history has layered Qufu with many cultural traces - among the most notable of these are the Confucius Temple, family seat, and woods, which occupy the smaller half of the town.
The entryway to this temple passes through a precinct that is dotted with ancient trees and that leads the visitor through a passageway of cypresses. The entry is from the south, through the southern gate of the ancient town. A forest of stone stelae testifies to the long history of the place, which measures some 327 mu in size and is more than one kilometer in length from north to south.
The main building of the Confucius Temple is called the Dacheng Hall. It is a magnificent building enhanced with 28 coiled dragon pillars and vermilion and golden tiles. Successive generations conducted rituals here in honor of Confucius. Rituals began in the second year after Confucius died, namely in 478 BC, when Lu Aigong turned Confucius' home into a temple. Since that time, dynasty after dynasty of emperors have remodeled and renovated the place, till it has arrived at its current state. The buildings of the temple copy the layout and style of imperial palaces, with nine courtyards and a central axis that runs north-south. There are some 466 rooms in the Confucius temple, with numerous halls and pavilions, in addition to 55 gate buildings.
The Family Seat
To the east of the Confucius Temple is the family seat. It has been the site of official offices as well as the private home of many generations of the Sage. It covers an area of more than 240 mu and includes 463 halls and rooms. It has nine courtyards divided by three passageways: the eastern passageway is where the family shrine is located. The western passageway contains the study of the Sage, where he read books and studied poetry and the rites.
The main part of the family seat is located along the middle passageway. Before this are situated a number of palace administrative offices. The rear part is the residence, and at the very rear is the garden, which is called 'Iron Mountain Garden.' A large number of works of art are preserved in the family seat, the most famous of which are ten Shang and Zhou-dynasty bronze vessels for offerings. With their elegant forms, exquisite ornamentation, and clear inscriptions, these are considered some of China's rarest treasures. One of the fine paintings in the collection is of the Three Sages by the Yuan-dynasty painter and calligrapher Zhao Mengfu. A copy of a portion of the Confucian Analects is on display that is written in such small script that one can read it only by using a magnifying glass. Even more valuable are the nearly ten thousand scrolls and documents from the Ming and Qing dynasties. From many different perspectives, these reflect the political, economic, philosophical and cultural aspects of ancient China.
One arrives at the famed Confucius woods after leaving Qufu by exiting through the northern gate and passing through the row of cypress trees and exquisitely carved stone stelae. The woods occupy 3,000 mu of land and are where Confucius and his descendants are buried. This area represents the best-preserved and most complete set of ancestral clan tombs in China. Going through the Sage Woods Gate, one arrives at an arboretum that was planted, tree by tree, by the many generations of disciples of Confucius.
Shandong Province,Qufu City