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Temple and Cemetery of Confucius China

Confucius (551-479 BC) was a renowned philosopher, politician, and educator in the spring and Autumn Period. The system of belief that he created was adopted as the pre-eminent ideology in feudal Chinese society for more than two thousand years: he was the "Sacred First Teacher" and Sacred Model Teacher for Ten Thousand Years". Two years after his death Duke Gun of Lu consecrated his former house in Qufu as a temple, within which were preserved his clothing, musical instruments, carriage, and books.

Temple and Cemetery of Confucius China
Continent: Asia
Country: China
Category: Cultural
Criterion: (I)(IV) (VI)
Date of Inscription: 1994

Memory of Confucius

Emperor Liu Bang of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) visited Qufu to offer sacrifices to the memory of Confucius and his example was followed by high officials. The temple was rebuilt in AD 153, and it was repaired and renovated several times in subsequent centuries. In AD 611 the Temple was rebuilt again, and this time the original three-room house effectively disappeared as a component of the complex.

Much enlargement and extension was carried out in the 7th-10th centuries; in 1012 during the Song Dynasty it was expanded into three sections with four courtyards, containing over three hundred rooms, and in 1194a further extension increased the number of rooms to over 400. It was devastated by fire and vandalism in 1214, but rebuilding was commenced, so that by 1302 it had attained its former scale. An enclosure wall was built in 1331, on the model of an Imperial palace. Following another disastrous fire in 1499 it was rebuilt once again, to its present scale. Further fires resulted in the rebuilding on a more lavish scale of structures such as the Dacheng Hail. From the time of Liu Bang's visit, many Emperors visited the Temple to pay homage to Confucius, and it was given the highest rank among Chinese temples at a grand ceremony in 1906.

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

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When Confucius died in 479 BC he was buried on the bank of the Si River, 1 km north of Qufu, beneath a tomb in the form of an axe, with a brick platform for sacrifices. When Emperor Wu Di of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) accepted proposals to "eliminate the hundred schools of thought and respect only Confucianism", the Tomb became an important place of veneration and pilgrimage, and it was progressively enlarged and ornamented in the following centuries.

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By the 2nd century AD more than fifty tombs of Confucius's descendants had accumulated around the main tomb. Stelae commemorating him began to be erected in 1244 and in 1331 Kong Sihui began building the wall and gate of the Cemetery, and this work continued with the addition of gate towers, arches, pavilions, and the access road from the north gate of the city of Qufu (1594). By the late 18th century the Cemetery was extended to cover an area of 3.6 km', enclosed by a perimeter wall of over 7 km.

The descendants of Confucius lived and worked in the Kong Family Mansion, guarding and tending the Temple and Cemetery, and were given titles of nobility by successive Emperors. The hereditary title of Duke Yan Sheng granted by Emperor Ren Zhong of the Song Dynasty ((960-1279) was borne by successive direct male descendants until 1935, when the tide of the 77th generation direct descendant was changed to "State Master of Sacrifice and First Teacher".

The site of the Mansion was moved in 1377 a short distance from the Temple, with which it had formerly been directly linked. The new Mansion was expanded in 1503 to comprise three rows of buildings, with a total of 560 rooms, and nine courtyards. It was completely renovated in 1838 at Imperial cost, but the new structure was destroyed by fire in 1885, only to be rebuilt, once again at Imperial cost, two years later.

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