A cultural gene pull
Students participate in an event celebrating Confucianism at the Confucius ancestral temple in Quzhou, Zhejiang province. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Southern temple builds on the past to link tourism with the philosophical heritage of Confucius, thus securing it for future generations, Yang Feiyue reports.
Red walls and black tiles render an ambience of solemnity over the Confucius ancestral temple in southern China. The temple faces a Confucius culture park across the street, where a 12-ton, 9-meter-tall bronze statue of the philosopher dominates the view.
The presence of these elements delighted Tsytsiura Kseniia during a recent visit to the temple, located in Quzhou city, Zhejiang province.
"I've been fascinated by Confucius and the culture of Confucianism since childhood," says Kseniia, who is from Ukraine and currently working and studying in China.
This was due to the influence of his grandfather who, decades ago, taught at Wuhan University, Kseniia says.
She was impressed by the creative design of the admission ticket, which carries a miniature version of The Analects of Confucius.
"I used to be under the impression that the Confucius ancestral temple was only admissible to their descendants," Kseniia says, adding that she was surprised to learn that the temple was run as a tourist attraction.
"Offering access to the public shows the openness and inclusiveness of Confucianism," she adds.
International guests experience Confucian culture. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Kseniia has been among an increasing number of visitors who have gone to the temple, one of the only two such Confucian ancestral sites in the country and a key cultural heritage site under national protection.
Not as widely known as its counterpart in Qufu, Shandong province, which was established in 478 BC, one year after Confucius' death, the Quzhou temple was built more than 1,700 years later, because of the migration of the philosopher's family.
After Kaifeng, the capital of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), was conquered by Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) forces, Emperor Gaozong and remnants of the Song Dynasty retreated to South China. The eldest grandson of the 48th generation of Confucius' descendants, Kong Duanyou, also moved South, settling in Quzhou with his wife.
Construction of the temple was approved by Emperor Lizong of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) after an appeal from the local prefecture chief. Since then, the descendants of Confucius have settled in Quzhou and the city has become their second largest home.
It has been rebuilt three times and repaired 10 times over the past 800 years.