Tag Archives: Qufu

2019 Highlights: on the trail of the Duke of Zhou and the Yellow Emperor

Duke of Zhou Temple Qufu
Duke of Zhou Temple, Qufu

Walking around the center of modern-day Qufu, it can be difficult to appreciate the influence that this small city had on the early political and cultural development of China. Not only is it said to be the home of the legendary Yellow Emperor, one of the mythical five Emperors who is regarded by some as the creator of Chinese culture. It also wielded tremendous soft power during the Zhou dynasty as the capital of the state of Lu, which was granted to Confucius’s great hero, the Duke of Zhou, as a fiefdom by the grateful young King Cheng for the dedication he showed in building the foundations of the nascent dynasty during his regency.

Although the duke never actually visited Qufu because he had far more important affairs at the Zhou court to take care of, his association with the city elevated its importance to previously unimaginable heights. The construction of a magnificent temple to honor him further helped to promote the image of Qufu throughout the land and to enable the state of Lu to punch above its weight on the Zhou dynasty political and cultural stage. Continue reading 2019 Highlights: on the trail of the Duke of Zhou and the Yellow Emperor

2019 highlights: beyond the standard Qufu tourist circuit

Qufu tourist circuit - Cemetery of Mencius’ Mother
Cemetery of Mencius’ Mother

There’s a lot more to see than the usual stops on the standard Qufu tourist circuit of the Temple of Confucius, the Kong Mansion, and the Kong Forest. Not surprisingly, many of these sights are related to the Confucius, but if you’ve already imbibed too much sagely wisdom and history you can simply relax and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.

Two spots that immediately spring to mind are the cemeteries of Mencius, second only to the sage himself in the Confucian pantheon, and his formidable mother, which I visited in October this year. Cemetery is probably the wrong word to describe these two places. Forest, the literal meaning of the Chinese word (林/lín), is a much more appropriate name because the graves of son and mother and a few other notables and relatives are surrounded by pristine woods comprising cypress, oak, elm, and maple trees that go back as far as two thousand years. Continue reading 2019 highlights: beyond the standard Qufu tourist circuit

2019 highlights: Qufu Confucius Museum and LSEVs

Qufu Confucius Museum

From Wuzhen, I took a five-hour high speed train ride via the Shanghai Hongqiao station to Qufu in order to see the sights I missed during my first trip there a couple of years ago and visit the recently opened Confucius Museum.

The museum was impressive in architectural terms and had a fine collection of Shang and Zhou dynasty ritual vessels, but the scarcity of English language descriptions of the exhibits makes it hard work for overseas visitors who are unable to read Chinese. Continue reading 2019 highlights: Qufu Confucius Museum and LSEVs

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

Temple of the Duke of Zhou

No trip 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

Notes from the field: Mencius Cemetery & Cemetery of Mencius’ Mother

Entrance to Mencius Cemetery

One of the most delightful surprises I had on my first trip to Qufu a couple of years ago was an unplanned visit to the Temple of Mencius, second only to Confucius in the Confucian Pantheon. This time I decided to double down by taking a trip out to see his tomb at the Mencius Cemetery and the tomb of his redoubtable mother at the Cemetery of Mencius’ Mother.

The two cemeteries are located close to each other about a thirty-minute drive away from Qufu. The Mencius Cemetery (孟子林/Mengzi Lin) is covered by a pristine forest comprising around 10,000 cypress, oak, elm, and maple trees that were mainly planted during the latter part of the Song dynasty (960 – 1279). Continue reading Notes from the field: Mencius Cemetery & Cemetery of Mencius’ Mother

Notes from the field: Confucius Museum in Qufu

Confucius museum in Qufu

Having recently read about the opening of the new Confucius Museum in Qufu, I decided it would be worth having a look at it during this trip to China and so took a train here from Wuzhen this morning.

The museum is located about 5km south of the center of Qufu. A taxi there from the city center cost me 20RMB and took about 15 minutes. The building housing the museum looks stunning from the outside with its ultra-modern design. Its interior is also very attractive with a circular tower of books arranged in patterns forming the centerpiece. Continue reading Notes from the field: Confucius Museum in Qufu

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: quiet satisfaction

Temple of Confucius: quiet satisfaction

子曰:「不患人之不己之,患不知人也。」
Confucius said: “Don’t be concerned about other people failing to acknowledge your merits; be concerned about failing to acknowledge their merits.”

Leadership isn’t a popularity contest. It’s not a race for fame and fortune. It’s a constant process of “carving and polishing stones” to sharpen your ability to build and develop a self-sustaining team that requires minimal intervention from you in how it operates. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: quiet satisfaction

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: like carving and polishing stones

like carving and polishing stones

子貢曰:「貧而無諂,富而無驕,何如?」子曰:「可也,未若貧而樂,富而好禮者也。」子貢曰:「詩云:『如切如磋,如琢如磨』,其斯之謂與?」子曰:「賜也,始可與言詩已矣,告諸往而知來者。」
Zigong said: “’Poor but not subservient; wealthy but not arrogant.’ What do you think of that?” Confucius said: “Not bad, but this would be better still: ‘Poor but content; wealthy but loves ritual.’” Zigong said: “In the Book of Songs it is said: ‘Like carving and polishing stones, like cutting and grinding gems.’ Is this not the same idea?” Confucius said: “Wonderful, Zigong! At last I can discuss the Book of Songs with you! Based on what I’ve already said, you can work out what’s coming next!” (1) (2)

“Like carving and polishing stones, like cutting and grinding gems.” This line from the ancient Book of Songs that Zigong  quotes to Confucius during their bout of poetic banter provides the perfect metaphor for the process of self-cultivation. The modern-day equivalent would be, I suppose, “sharpening the saw.” Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: like carving and polishing stones