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With a history of more than 5000 years and located near Taian of Shandong Province, Qufu was the center of the oriental culture and the residence of Confucius, the most famed thinker in ancient China. Since the old times, it used to be the capital of the earliest Shang and Yin dynasties, and the capital of Lu State during the Spring and Autumn Period as well as the Warring States. It is now a city with population of 680,000 and a well known tourist city attracting people from many countries, especially from Japan.
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During the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States period (770-221 BC), private education developed rapidly. It was very popular for scholars to give private lessons to groups of selected disciples. Confucius (551-479 BC), who is regarded as a great thinker and educator of ancient China, was a pioneer in running private schools. He was from a declining aristocratic family of the State of Lu, a center of culture and private education at the time. His father died when he was only three years old. Though poor and humble in his childhood, Confucius was determined to become a learned person. He spent 15 years to study classics and formed his own conclusions and views on the most important problems of history, society, philosophy, government and human being. Thus, after working as a low-ranking official for several years, he resigned his position and began his career as a teacher around the age of thirty. He set up his own study halls and gave private lessons, wishing to practice and spread his own ideas so as to bring light to the people. As what he taught met the needs of the time and his teaching methods were quite different from others (lecture plus discussion), he gradually gained fame. From his 30 to 73 years old, Confucius had altogether three thousand disciples, of whom 72 became proficient in the "six arts".
Confucius made great contributions to education in ancient China. He invented the elicitation method nearly one hundred years earlier than the Socratic dialogue and was the first to challenge the spoon-feeding method of teaching. He advocated equality between teacher and student and encouraged students to form opinions of their own. Before him, only the children of nobles had the opportunity to education, but Confucius took the lead in Chinese history to bring education to all the people. His idea of teaching according to the student's aptitude is still regarded as an important educational principle in China today.


Confucius did not write any books because in his time nobody wrote for publication purpose. But he edited a lot of academically valuable classics in his life in philosophy, poem, historical records, government documents, literature, and even folk songs. His students, however, compiled some books according to his teaching, dialogue and daily conversation, such as the Twelve Classics, the Book of Changes, the Book of Songs, the Book of History and the Book of Rites. These books and his thought has influenced Chinese people, China's history for over two thousands of years, even till now. The study right now on Confucius's thought are mostly based on these books. Humanity is one of the most important ideas of Confucius. Humanity, seemed to Confucius, means to love other people, to help others establish themselves whenever they want to stand up, to help others to understand things when one desires to know, and not to impose anything on others when one does not want to do to himself. For the stability of a society, morality is very important, even more than position, wealth and life, because everyone has a moral nature. Confucius believed moral and humane rules were more effective than harsh laws and severe punishment. The ruler himself should be a upright man, and should govern people with virtue, and regulate their behaviors with the rite.
Mean and harmony is another important concept of Confucius. He insisted that all people and governments should do all things in a mean and harmony way, have quiet mind and peaceful spirit. Don't go extreme and try avoid violence. This concept has dramatically influenced Chinese politics and people's thought that even now it is quite easy to find it out from Chinese people's daily life and the policies of Chinese government. In 140 BC Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty decided to take Confucianism as the official philosophy, and from then on, Confucianism had been the mainstream of Chinese philosophy for about 2,000 years.

Confucius Forest

About 2 km north of the Confucius Mansions, Confucius Forest is the largest and oldest family cemetery. Confucius and his descendants in the last 2,000 years rest amid trees, pavilions and statues. Covering 200 hectares, the graveyard is a well-preserved park with a large number of trees in great diversity. Confucius and his descendants are buried under mounds enclosed in a wall. An approach flanked by stone animals and guardians leads to Confucius's simple but dignified tomb adjoined by his son's and his grandson's tombs.

Confucius Mansion

To the east of the Confucius Temple, the aristocratic mansions were built in the Ming Dynasty and used to be the residence of descendants of Confucius - the Kongs. Containing 463 buildings, the large complex is one of the finest of its kind in China. The mansions follow traditional Chinese architectural style too. On the east side of the north-south axis is the family shrine; while on the west side is a recreational area, which has studies, guest rooms and libraries. Grouped on the central axis are the main sections of the mansions. To the south on the axis is the former administrative area. The Kong's family was granted great power to administer Qufu city by the emperors. In the residences of the Kongs, many artifacts are displayed, including costumes of different dynasties. It is the Kongs privilege to keep former dynasty's costumes when a new dynasty claims those illegal. At the extreme northern end of the complex is a garden with rookeries, ponds and groves.

Confucius Temple

One fifth of the city Qufu in size, this Confucian Temple is the largest of its kind in China. Built in 478 B.C in memory of the great philosopher and founder of Confucianism, the temple experienced successive renovation and expansion . The present temple was built mainly in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Covering a building space of 22 hectares and consisting 466 buildings, the temple is one of the three largest ancient architectural complexes in China. Laid on a north-south axis, the traditional Chinese complex resembles the Forbidden City in shape. In the thirteen stele pavilions stand 53 stone tablets from former dynasties. The largest tablet weighs 35 tons while the tortoise like Bixi bearing the tablet weighs 30 tons. Across the moat is Kuiwenge (Literate Star Pavilion), which used to be the Confucius Library. The three roofed pavilion was rebuilt in 1191 in the Jin Dynasty. Further north through Dacheng Gate, in the courtyard are Xingtan Pavilion (Apricot Rostrum Pavilion) where Confucius used to give lectures, and Dacheng Hall (Hall of Great Achievement) is the core structure in the temple, in honor of Confucius. The hall was last rebuilt in1500; it almost paled Taihedian (Hall of Supreme Harmony) in the Forbidden City in Beijing. On important days, unusual rites will be held in the hall. Flanking the hall, two wing rooms, housing some valuable stone tablets, used to house statues of the great sage's 72 outstanding students. At the extreme northern end of the temple lies Shenjidian which houses a series of engraved stones, telling stories of the philosopher. Lubi (Lu Wall), at the eastern compound of the temple, is famous for discovery of some important Confucian texts. During Emperor Qin Shi Huang's reign, he persecuted Confucianists and burnt Confucian canons. Those texts hidden in the wall by one of Confucius's descendants survived the disaster.


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