Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Confucius Temple...

...Checked Of The List!

I’m starting a “to-do-before-we-leave” list and a couple of days ago I decided to tackle the task of visiting one of the few main temple I haven’t seen yet

First of all some background check:
Who is 孔夫子 Kong3Fu1Zi3 which literally mean Master Kong? His actual name was 孔丘, Kong3 Qiu1. He was born on September 28, 551 BC and died in 479 BC. He was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thought and life. His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. Confucius' thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism (儒家). It was introduced to Europe by the Jesuit Matteo Ricci, who was the first to Latinize the name as "Confucius."

Read last year in the China Daily:
Family Tree Of Confucius Has One And A Half Million Members
Women will be listed on the family tree of ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius for the first time in a radically updated version set to mushroom to 1.5 million members. [..] "We have to adapt to the times. Men and women are equal now," said Kong Dehong, a Confucius descendant in charge of updating the family tree, as saying.[…] The new family tree, the fifth such version (The last revision was completed in the 1930s, when the tree had 600,000 members.) will be edited and printed in 2009, on the 2,560th anniversary of the birth of Confucius.
The philosophy has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years often attributed to a moral void in Chinese society created by the nation's rush into capitalism.
The family tree is regarded as the world's biggest as it records more than 80 generations of the Confucius family.

Now the temple:
The Temple of Confucius in Beijing (Kong Miao) was initially built in 1302 and additions were made during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It covers a total area of 22,000 square meters (5.4 acres). It is the second largest temple constructed for Confucius, ranking second only to the Temple of Confucius in QuFu, ShanDong Province, the hometown of Confucius.

Today, the temple is a haven of tranquility with ancient cypress and juniper trees (one of the cypress trees is over 700 years old), halls, pavilions and stone steles.

Confucius was deeply concerned with how to cultivate good character, and then on the interaction of people in society. He felt it was important to lead by example and this influenced his interest in education, for which ethical development was the main goal.
Referring to his own way of learning, Confucius said "To hear much, select what is good and follow it" and "Study without thought is labor lost; thought without study is dangerous".

Inside the temple one can see 198 stone tablets positioned on each side of the first courtyard, containing 51,624 names of scholars who had reached the rank of JinShi during the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. A JinShi is a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations. Candidates for the exam had to undergo the rigorous procedure of being locked up in a small cubicle for 3 days while taking the examination, many of whom reportedly went mad or committed suicide during the experience.

There are also 14 stone stele pavilions of the Ming and Qing dynasties that detail precious historical information from ancient China.

In the adjoining Imperial College are 189 steles on which are chiseled the '13 classics'. This great work was achieved by just one main, Jiang Heng, a senior scholar at the time of emperor KangXi. It took him 12 years to complete cutting the 630,000 characters.