Tag Archives: Confucius

Notes from the field: the Temple of the Duke of Zhou

Temple of the Duke of Zhou

No visit to Qufu should be complete without a visit to the Temple of the Duke of Zhou. The traditional Zhou dynasty rituals that were carried out at the temple in honor of Confucius’s great hero were the primary source of inspiration for the sage’s philosophy and teachings. They provided the living and breathing symbols that fueled his calls for a return to the golden age at the beginning of the Zhou dynasty when China reached its zenith under the duke’s wise and benign leadership.

The Duke of Zhou (周公) was the fourth son of King Wen of Zhou (周文王), the spiritual founder of the Zhou dynasty. He played an instrumental role in helping his second oldest brother, King Wu (周武王), to defeat the Shang dynasty (商朝) at the Battle of Muye (牧野之戰) in around 1046 BCE and formally establish the dynasty. Continue reading Notes from the field: the Temple of the Duke of Zhou

Notes from the field: Zhusi Academy

Zhusi Academy

Like the Cemetery of Confucius’s Parents, the Zhusi Academy probably isn’t on the must-see list for Qufu, but it’s worth checking out if you have the time.

The Zhusi Academy marks the place where Confucius is said to have taught and edited ancient canonical texts, including the so-called Five Classics (1) and the Book of Music, after returning to his home state of Lu in 484 BCE after spending fourteen years in exile. It provides an elegant and graceful symbol of the importance attached to learning in Chinese culture. Continue reading Notes from the field: Zhusi Academy

Notes from the field: the Cemetery of Confucius’s Parents

cemetery of Confucius's parents

The Cemetery of Confucius’s Parents has none of the stunning natural beauty of the ones dedicated to Mencius and his redoubtable mother. The tree count stands at a mere 467 compared to around 10,000 and 12,000 for the other two locations.

The cemetery is also nowhere near as old either. Construction on the main Sacrificial Hall began in 1179 and the complex only reached its current scale in 1755. Naturally, the main structures have also undergone extensive reconstruction and refurbishment over the centuries. Continue reading Notes from the field: the Cemetery of Confucius’s Parents

Analects of Confucius Book 8: new English translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 8 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher, including his thoughts on the qualities of the ancient sage kings who laid the foundations of Chinese civilization.

Chapter 1
子曰:「泰伯其可謂至德也已矣。三以天下讓,民無得而稱焉。」
Confucius said: “It can truly be said of Tai Bo that he was a man of supreme virtue. Three times he gave up the throne of his state without giving the people the opportunity to praise him.”
Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 8: new English translation

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Sage King Shun

Shun (舜) was one of the five legendary sage kings of ancient China in the 23rd or 22nd century BCE. He reportedly ruled for nearly fifty years after the previous ruler Yao (堯) had abdicated in favor of him because of his higher virtue. Prior to his death, reputedly at the age of 100, he is said to have relinquished his throne to his successor, Yu (禹), who went on to establish the first recorded dynasty in China’s history, the Xia (夏朝). Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Sage King Shun

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wu of Zhou

King Wu’s name (周武王) literally means “Martial King”. He founded the Zhou dynasty (周朝) after defeating the last Shang dynasty (商朝) ruler, Zhouxin (紂辛), in the bloody battle of Muye (牧野之戰) in ca. 1046 BCE. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wu of Zhou

Analects of Confucius Book 6: new English translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 6 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. It includes interesting insights into the characters and abilities of many of Confucius’s followers plus other contemporary and historical figures.

Chapter 1
子曰:「雍也可使南面。」
Confucius said: “Ran Yong could take a seat facing south.”
Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 6: new English translation

Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Zisang Bozi

There is a lot of speculation surrounding the identity of Zisang Bozi (桑伯子). One popular theory is that he was a former minister of the state of Lu who gave up the good life to become a recluse or itinerant Daoist sage in protest against the corruption he saw while in government.

Confucius is said to have met Zisang Bozi by chance while walking around the countryside and appears to have been quite taken by his easygoing ways. This would fit with the overriding message of Chapter 2 of Book 6, the only passage in which Zisang is mentioned in the Analects, though of course it doesn’t mean that this theory is correct. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Zisang Bozi

Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke Ai of Lu

Duke Ai (魯哀公) was the hereditary ruler of the state of Lu, but had little actual power because it was concentrated in the hands of the Three Families, the Jisun (季孫), Mengsun (孟孙), and Shusun (叔孫).

During the course of his reign (ca. 494 to ca. 467 BCE), the duke attempted to restore the primacy of his family, but was forced to flee from Lu towards the end of it.  Soon after arriving in the state of Yue (越), he went back to Lu but never returned to the court and lived out his finals days at the home of a family called Shan (山). No wonder his posthumous name literally means Duke Sadness! Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke Ai of Lu

Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Zichan

Zichan (子產) was the courtesy name of Gongsun Qiao (公孫僑), who was renowned for the brilliance of his leadership as the chief minister of the state of Zheng (鄭) from ca. 544 BCE until his death in ca. 521 BCE.

As chief minister, Zichan managed to expand the territory of Zheng even though it was bordered by the much larger and more powerful states of Chu (楚) and Jin (晉). At the same time, he was successful in carrying out a series of legal, political, economic, and social reforms that strengthened the state and solidified the rule of law. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Zichan