The Home of Confucious 

Written by Oct 16, 2004 13:10
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The Kong Mansion

Before going on, here's an introduction to the place. The city got its name long ago from a mound that wound its way for about 4 km, and thus came the name "Qufu" (Winding Mound). It is a small, old cultural city with a history of 5000 years. It is here where we could find traces of legendary rulers of remote antiquity and it is also known as the "Eastern Mecca" because of its sacredness. Sacred in a sense that the founder of Confucianism was born and buried here! His temple was constructed here, the living quarters of his later generation is here, and a huge graveyard for the Confucian clan is here! Those are the three things the city had come to be known for!

After getting my deposit at the counter, I set out for the Kong Family Mansion. The Confucian family, by the way, is referred to as the Kongs! It was only a kilometer away from the hotel, not much of a walk. From the entrance you wouldn't notice the size of the place, but as you go along one alley to another, you would come to realize that it is indeed a huge place. There are 5 wing rooms on either side. The East Wing is where the Kong Family attended to cases, urged land rent, and delivered official documents. The West Wing is a special place to attend to the affairs of the state. In the courtyard are six halls with different functions. One is in charge of tax collection, another is held responsible for certain rites, etc. There are, of course, many other buildings. At the back is a huge garden with many fruit trees and other plants. From pomelos, to pomegranates, to odd-looking gourds; seems like Confucius had a green thumb! I even saw a calamansi seedling!

The Kong Temple

Just beside the mansion is the Kong Temple. Having had the longest history among China's three great ancient building complexes and being compared with the many Confucian temples all over the world, this one is the greatest of them all. Its construction began in 478BC, but because of the fame of Confucius, rulers of many dynasties had constantly expanded it. It had undergone countless renovations. Now it has 3 roads, 9 courtyards, 466 buildings, halls, palaces and workshops, 54 gates and pavilions and over 1000 stone tablets and steles! Planted in the area are dozens of majestic cypresses towering above the buildings, adding shade and coolness during my summer visit.

Let me just describe a few of these magnificent buildings. Located at the rear is the main hall of the temple called Dacheng Hall. It stands magnificently with its double eaves and 9 ridges. It is surrounded by 28 dragon columns carved out of whole blocks of stone. The 10 columns in front, however, have deeper relief sculptures. Each column has two dragons twisting its way up. They really look life-like especially their scales and each dragon is carved differently from the other. On the inscribed board at the entrance of the temple writes "There is no such great person since time immemorial" while an inscription in the hall writes "Teacher of All Times" implying that Confucius is the teacher of emperors of all dynasties and the exemplary virtue of all ages. I wonder what he taught the emperors, their empire surely didn't last!

Just before this grand edifice, is a cute little pavilion called "Apricot Platform" said to be the place where Confucius held his lectures. It's not shaped like an apricot, but perhaps it got its name from the surrounding apricot trees. Well, I never did notice any apricot trees around and had there been any apricot fruits, my pocket is sure to have had one.

The Kong Cemetary

At the exit, I had a light lunch of one large corn on the cob for just 1 yuan and some shredded vegetables wrapped in an egg roll for 3 yuan. My third stop would be the Kong Family Graveyard which is a couple of kilometers away. I had to ride one of those fancy looking pedaled tricycles again. This time I was charged 5yuan because of the distance. You can see two huge blue colored archways along the way indicating you are on the right path. Before the entrance is another old looking marble-like arch with many carvings on it. Behind it is a grove of cypress trees giving you a hint of how old the place really is. The size of the graveyard used to be less than one hectare during the Qin and Han dynasties, but with the enhancement of his fame it expanded greatly! The circumference now is 7.5 km! It has the longest history and the largest area in the world. I'm, of course, referring particularly to the graveyard of the Kongs. In Chinese, the place is called "Kong Ling" translated as the Kong Forest because of its forest-like size and the rare trees and plants planted by his disciples. Now there are some 100,000 of them scattered all over the place. The people buried here are all descendants of Confucius. According to the customs of the Kong Family, there four kinds of family members who were not allowed to be buried here: those who died before 18, those who violated the state law and were sentenced to death, the daughters who got married, and to those who became monks!

There were seven famous sites I visited on foot namely the Ming Tombs, The Qing Tombs, Kong Lingyi's tomb (76th generation descendant), Kong Shangren's tomb (another descendant and also a great writer), a memorial gateway honoring Kong Xianpei (72nd generation descendant), the house where Zi Gong guarded his master's tomb (it is said that after the master's death, his disciples guarded the tomb for three years and left one after another except for Zi Gong who stayed for another 3 years; loyal guy!), and, of course, the tomb of Confucius! Each of the tombs has (I think) 3 pairs of stone animal guards and a pair of soldiers standing nearest the tomb. The tomb of Confucius wasn't as eye-popping as I thought it would be; it looked just like any other tomb except for the yellow-colored inscriptions on the gravestone. I just had to contend myself for having visited the graveyard of one of the most well-renowned people in the world and I guess that's something!

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