Confucius(Kong Qiu), the world—renowned Chinese philos— opher born in Qufu, Shandong(Shantung)Province, 2, 530 years ago, has influenced Chinese society with his ideas right up to the present century. As the para-religion cult which came to embrace his thinking grew, shrines were erected to his memory in Qutu. The feudal rulers of subsequent dynasties used Confucianism as a moral prop to consolidate their power and built up the town of Qufu as if it were a Mecca. The result is a remarkable group of ancient buildings with art treasures. Qufu has recently been restored to its former glory and is ready to take its place on the tourist map. It could well become an attraction rivaling the Great Wall, which it pre-dates by a Quarter-century. While the debate over Confucius’ role in history continues, a distinction is made between appraisal of a philosophy and preservation of historical and art objects associated with an era. A 30-minute bus ride east from the Yanzhou railway station on the Beijing—Shanghai line takes you to Qufu. The spacious Temple of Confucius dominates the town and is the first thing you will see. In size and scale this area ranks second only to the “Forbid den City”in Beijing. Construction of the Temple began in 478 B. C., the year after Confucius’ death. It was rebuilt and enlarged many times during the ensuing two thousand years. The Temple grounds cover an area of 22 hectares with buildings laid out symmetrically along a one-kilometer north-south axis. There are 53 magnificent gateways and numerous halls, pavillons and shrines elaborately roofed with glazed tiles.
The Great Pavilion of the Constellation of Scholars, built in 1191, is one of the principal halls. It is an elegant wooden structure with three tiers of glazed-tile roofs. Another is the Great Hail of Confucius with double-tier roofs. Tea massive marble columns support the lower roof at the front, each hewn from a single piece. Magnificent dragons twist round the columns in bas-relief.
The Temple houses an impressive collection of steles an other stone inscriptions. Steles alone in the region of Qufu number 2,100, all of great artistic and historical value. Outstanding also are the hundred bas-relief carvings unearthed from tombs of the Han dynasty from 2o6 B.C. to A.D. 220. These depict the life, customs and beliefs prevalent in China twenty centuries ago. One shows the noted doctor of the Han dynasty Bian Que treating a patient with acupuncture. A queue of four await their turn.
To the east of tile Temple is the Kong family mansion where Confucius’ direct descendants lived. Clusters of buildings are arranged around nine courtyards, all fine examples of traditional Chinese architecture.
The Great Hall of tile mansion is furnished as it was. A large chair is upholstered in tiger skin. A red-lacquered desk has on it official seals, writing brushes, and the insignia, arrows and bamboo slips that served as warrants for arrest and inter- rogation. The authority these betokened may be imagined.
The other buildings were formerly used either to entertain honored guests, local officials and the gentry or to lodge guards and servants of the Kong family. At ene time the family owned 64 thousand hectares of land in five provinces and received land rents in grain of well ever forty thousand tons annually.
The family’s residential quarters are furnished with a stunning display of gold, silver and copper vessels, and embellished with jadeware, ivory, costume embroideries, silks and satins. A single family dinner is said to have 196 dishes, with 404 places set. The clothing inventory for Kong Lingyi, 76th descendant of Confucius, lists 419 pieces worn in one year. Such details in the life-style of Confucius’ descendant in the feudal society gives some idea of their power and wealth.