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Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu, Shandong province

Confucius (Chinese: 孔夫子, transliterated Kong Fuzi or K'ung-fu-tzu, lit. "Master Kong," but most frequently referred to as Kongzi 孔子.

Qufu (Chinese: 曲阜; pinyin: Qūfù; Wade-Giles: Ch'ü1-fu4) is a city in Shandong Province, China. Qufu is the legendary birthplace of Confucius; it served as the capital of the State of Lu during the Spring and Autumn Period.

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Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu Location

Qufu (Chinese: 曲阜; pinyin: Qūfù; Wade-Giles: Ch'ü1-fu4) is a city in Shandong Province, China. It is located at 35° 36′ northern latitude and 117°, 02′ east of Greenwich, about 130 km south of the provincial capital Jinan. Qufu has an urban population of about 60,000, the entire administrative region has about 650,000 inhabitants.

Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu Attractions

The Temple of Confucius, Cemetery of Confucius, and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu, have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1994. They are the major cultural attractions of Qufu.

Confucius (traditionally September 28, 551 – 479 BC) was a famous Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced East Asian life and thought.

His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such as Legalism or Daoism during the Han Dynasty. Confucius' thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism. It was introduced to Europe by the Jesuit Matteo Ricci, who was the first to Latinise the name as "Confucius".

His teachings are known primarily through the Analects of Confucius, a collection of "brief aphoristic fragments", which was compiled many years after his death. Modern historians do not believe that any specific documents can be said to have been written by Confucius, but for nearly 2,000 years he was thought to be the editor or author of all the Five Classics such as the Classic of Rites, and the Spring and Autumn Annals.

Temple of Confucius (Kong Miao)

Within two years after the death of Confucius, his former house in Qufu was already consecrated as a temple by the Prince of Lu. In 205 BC, Emperor Gao of the Han Dynasty 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 to for 196 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, 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. It was restored to its former extent by the year 1302 during the Yuan Dynasty. 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. However, further additions to the buildings and the decorations were made. In total, the Temple of Confucius has undergone 15 major renovations, 31 large repairs, and numerous small building measures.

The temple complex is the second largest historical building complex in China (after the Forbidden City), it covers an area of 16,000 square metres 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, 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 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" after a star in the Great Bear 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. The main buildings are the Stela Pavilions (e.g., Jin and Yuan Dynasties, 1115–1368), the Kuiwen Hall (built in 1018, restored in 1504 during the Ming Dynasty and in 1985), the Xing Tan Pavilion (Apricot Platform), the De Mu Tian Di Arch, the Dacheng Hall (built in the Qing Dynasty), and the Hall of Confucius' Wife. The Dacheng Hall (Great Perfection Hall) is the architectural center of the present day complex. The hall covers an area of 54 by 34 m and stands slightly less than 32 m tall.

It is supported by 28 richly decorated pillars, each 6 m high and 0.8 m 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. In the center of the courtyard in front of Dacheng Hall stands the "Apricot Platform", which commemorates Confucius teaching his students under an apricot tree.

Cemetery of Confucius

The Cemetery of Confucius lies to the north of the town of Qufu, the oldest graves found in this location date back to the Zhou Dynasty. The original tomb erected here in memory of Confucius on the bank of the Sishui River had the shape of an axe. In addition, it had a brick platform for sacrifices. The present-day tomb is a cone-shaped hill. When it was opened by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution no human remains were found in it. Tombs for the descendants of Confucius and additional stela to commemorate him were soon added around Confucius' tomb. Since Confucius' descendants were conferred noble titles and were given imperial princesses as wives, many of the tombs in the cemetery show the status symbols of noblemen. Tombstones came in use during the Han Dynasty, today, there are about 3,600 tombstones dating from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties still standing in the cemetery. In 1331 construction work began on the wall and gate of the cemetery. In total, the cemetery has undergone 13 renovations and extensions. Eventually, by the late 18th century, the perimeter wall reached a length of 7.5 km, enclosing an area of 3.6 square kilometers. In this space, the tombs of more than 100,000 descendants of Confucius, who have been buried there over a period of about 2000 years, can be found. The oldest graves date back to the Zhou Dynasty, the most recent of which belong to descendants in the 76th and 78th generation. More than 10,000 mature trees give the cemetery a forest-like appearance. A road runs from the north gate of Qufu to the exterior gate of the cemetery in a straight line. It is 1266 m in length and lined by cypresses and pine trees. Along this road lies the Yan Temple, dedicated to Confucius' favorite student.

Kong family mansion

The descendants of Confucius lived in the Kong family mansion located to the east of the temple. They were in charge of tending to the temple and cemetery. In particular, they were in charge of conducting elaborate religious ceremonies on occasions such as plantings, harvests, honoring the dead, and birthdays. The Kong family was in control of the largest private rural estate in China. The first mansion was built in 1038 during the Song dynasty and was originally connected directly to the temple. During a rebuilding in 1377directed by the first Ming dynasty Emperor, it was moved a short distance away from the temple. In 1503, it was expanded into three rows of buildings with 560 rooms and - like the Confucius Temple - 9 courtyards. The mansion underwent a complete renovation in 1838 only to perish in a fire 47 years late in 1887. It was rebuilt two years later; the cost of both 19th century renovations was covered by the Emperor. Today, the mansion comprises 152 buildings with 480 rooms, which cover an area of 12,470 square metres. The family mansion was inhabited by descendants of Confucius until 1937, when Confucius' descendant in the 76th and 77th generations fled to Chongqing during the Second Sino-Japanese War and later to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War.

The layout of the mansion is traditionally Chinese, it separates official rooms in the front from the residential quarters in the rear. Furthermore, the spatial distribution of the buildings according to the seniority, gender, and status of their inhabitants reflects the Confucian principle of order and hierarchy: The most senior descendant of Confucius took up residence in the central of the three main buildings; his younger brother occupied the Yi Gun hall to the east.

The Five Strange objects are one of the main attractions of the Confucian Mansion

1. The strange couplet 2. The strange picture 3. The strange beast 4. The strange tree 5. The strange monument

Each of these has a particularly unusual feature about them.


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More on Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu

Description of Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu at the World Heritage Listing

Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu Photo Gallery

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