21.03.2008 - 21.03.2008 13 °C
Good Friday 21 March 2008
Today after class Maria, John (Chinese Teacher) and I went to Qufu. The driver from the school took us there. And yes, he still likes to travel at 150Km/h.
Qufu is a small town by Chinese standards with a population of 88K. It is the birth and death place of Confucius (551 - 479 BC), whose impact was not felt during his own lifetime. He lived in abject poverty and hardly put pen to paper, but his teachings were recorded by dedicated followers. His descendants, the Kong Family, fared considerably better.
As the original Confucian temple at Qufu , dating from 478 BC, was enlarged, remodeled, added to, taken away from and rebuilt, the majority of the present buildings date from the Ming Dynasty. in 1513 armed bands sacked the temple and the Kong residence, resulting in walls being erected around the town from 1522 to 1567 to fortify it. These walls were recently removed, but vestiges of Ming Town Planning, such as the extant Drum and bell Towers remain.
Less a religion than a code that defined hierarchical relationships, Confucianism has had a profound impact on Chinese culture. It teaches that son must respect father, wife must respect husband, commoner must respect official, official must respect ruler and so on. The essence of its teachings are obedience, respect, selflessness and working for the common good.
Confucius was seen as a kind of misguided feudal educator, and clan ties and ancestor worship were viewed as a threat. In 1948 Confucius' direct heir, the first-born son of the 77th generation of the Kong family, fled to Taiwan, breaking a 2500 year tradition of Kong residence in Qufu.
While the current popularity is undeniable, it is debatable as to what extent his teachings are taking in China. The majority of devotees around Qufu are middle aged or elderly. Chinese scholars are making careful statements reaffirming the significance of Confucius' historical role.
After Visiting the principle sights - The Confucius Temple, the Confucius Mansions and the Confucius Forest we headed back to Tai'an. At great speed I might add.
We stopped for dinner with the driver at a Hotpot restaurant. They ordered lashings of beer and you sweat it out fishing out strips of meat , fish balls, mushrooms, "blood" tofu, potato slices, Chinese cabbage from a boiling broth. Not exactly my idea of a meal. I became very full, very quickly. I hope I don't have to go there again!