Today we explored three ancient Confucian sites in Qufu. The Confucian temple, the Confucian family mansion, and the Cemetery, and burial place of Confucius. To start the day, some of us had woken up early to get breakfast, but my roommate Luke and I decided to sleep in instead. We got ourselves ready by 8:45, and by 9, the bus arrived to take us to the Confucian temple. I was still tired, and a little dazed, so I didn’t really know where we were going until we got there and I was informed that we were at the Confucian temple. This temple was utterly gigantic; complete with four gates each with their own Confucian symbols before the main temple at the center of the structure. We had a tour guide who spoke English, that was a little difficult to hear in the large crowds. However, it was possible to get some information about the site. Scattered between the gateways were giant rectangular stones engraved with Chinese characters carried on the backs of strange turtle looking creatures, which were Dragons and Phoenixes, according to the tour guide. These stones were Confucian poems.
Once we reached the center of the temple, we were given some time to walk around and explore the heart of the temple. At the heart, there was a large traditional style Chinese temple with statues of Confucius, and other significant figures inside. Many people were praying at the feet of Confucius, or lighting incense in front of the temple. I tried to appreciate the beauty of the temple, however it was difficult with the mass of people that crowded the temple. After some time, we left the temple to visit our next stop, the Confucian family mansion.
The Confucian family mansion was the home of Confucius’s descendants. This of course, has been renovated continuously over the years, as the building was originally built in 500 BCE. The mansion was large, and complete with more Confucian statues, and paintings. You didn’t get the sense that the space was lived in, as we didn’t really visit any actual living quarters. However, it was implied that there was a living space in the mansion somewhere. I remember we went through the mansion through long narrow corridors. This was difficult because of the mass of people there, and the corridor only being wide enough for one person. You had to really push to get through. I remember at this site, there was a large, indented stone which was used for punishment for slaves in the Confucian home. The slaves were forced to kneel on the stone for long hours without moving. Alex, Quinn, and I all tried this and we all gave up after roughly 5 minutes. After we were done with this site, returned to the bus, which took us to lunch.
After lunch we visited the Confucian Burial place, and Cemetery that was for all members of the Kong family (Confucius’s descendants). This place seemed like a magical forest which came out of nowhere. With beautiful trees, and a mass of lavender flowers, this graveyard seems an ideal final resting place for anyone. The graves were scattered through this forest as mounds of dirt marked by ominous looking rectangular gravestones, which stuck out like teeth. We rode through the cemetery on a bus, accompanied by a tour guide. Eventually we reached the Confucian burial site, and we got off the bus. We walked through some particularly significant grave sites which were larger than the others with blood red characters. Confucius’s grave was the largest. I tried to respect Confucius while I was there. I didn’t goof off or act ridiculously as I would during our free time on this trip. We were given some basic information about the grave, like how his son had been buried in the site next to him, with his wife buried behind him. There was a large mound right behind the gravestone, and you got the idea that the size of the mound indicated his importance.
We then rode a tour bus back to the entrance of the cemetery, where we then got in horse carriages, which took us back to the bus to return to the hotel. Once we returned to the hotel, we rested for the rest of the day.