The vermillion-colored Wall of Supreme Knowledge is the true starting point of a visit to the Taipei Confucius Temple, and takes its name from the following comment of Zigong, one of the venerable sage’s disciples, recorded in the Analects of Confucius implying that the only way to learn the teachings of the venerable sage is through assiduous study in the temple academy:
“Our master’s wall is many times a man’s height. If one does not find the door and enter by it, one cannot see the ancestral temple in all its beauty, nor all the officers in their rich array. But I assume that there are few who find the door.”
The outer side of the Wall of Supreme Knowledge can be seen from Kulun Street and features an elegant inscription of the four characters 萬仞宮牆 written by a 77th generation descendant of Confucius called Kong Decheng.
The inner side of the wall is much more interesting with its vivid painting of a Chinese mythical beast called a Qilin (麒麟). In ancient times, it was believed that the appearance of this auspicious and gentle creature heralded the imminent birth of a great sage or illustrious ruler – an obvious reference in this instance to Confucius.
The symbolism is further extended in the picture itself, in which the four legs of the Qilin stand on “four treasures” that a prospective scholar would need to equip himself with: namely, a pair of scrolls representing a cultured mind, a government seal signifying a successful career as an official, and an auspicious plant and gourd indicating peace and good fortune.