endless gates, ancient trees and Confucianism at Qufu, Shandong

After a tour of the peony garden in Heze (菏澤) (a date with peonies), we continued our journey and headed to Qufu (曲阜), the birthplace of the old Chinese sage Confucius for some literary exposure.

After a good night’s rest, we woke up to a pleasant sunny day on 27 April with temperature at around 20⁰C, much warmer than the day before at Heze.  We planned to visit only 2 out of the 3 Kong/San Kong (三孔)/3 Confucian [sites] that have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, i.e. the Temple of Confucius (孔廟) followed by the Kong Family Mansion (孔府), and would forego the Cemetery of Confucius (孔林).

Qufu, Confucius Temple and Family Mansion, Shandong

The journey began…
(None of us shares the same surname Kong (孔) as Confucius so no one got a free pass to the sites!)

Temple of Confucius (孔廟)

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the 4 travelling Malaysian (“歪果仁”) at the entrance to the Temple of Confucius

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

endless gates…

Once we went through the entrance to the ground of the Temple, it was one gate after the other with every one of them bearing a name and meaning different from the one before.  As we walked along and tried to absorb as much as possible, we soon found ourselves running out of memory space to upload all of what our knowledgeable guide tried to impart to us.

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

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this gate was named “Lingxing Gate”/”Ling Star Gate” after a star in the Great Bear constellation

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

it is explained here why it was named so…

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

last gateway leading to the Temple

Confucius taught his students under an apricot tree which was found common at the site and to commemorate that, the Apricot Platform Pavillion (杏壇) was built.

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

in front of the Apricot Platform Pavillion

The original shabby 3-room house of Confucius was removed not long after he passed on and the area was consecrated into a temple to worship Confucius.  The temple complex is the second largest historical building complex in China after the Forbidden City and in fact, it was modeled after it and resembles it in many ways but in a smaller scale.  The complex covers an area of 16,000 square metres and has a total of 460 rooms.  Massive indeed!

Through the centuries and many dynasties, the temple complex was salvaged and renovated many time due to fire and vandalism before it was enlisted together with the Kong Family Mansion and Cemetery of Confucius to form the San Kong (三孔)/3 Confucian [sites] as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

I marvelled at the ancient nail-less Chinese architecture

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

we also learned the origin of the Chinese idiom 勾心鬥角 (gōu xīn dòu jiǎo).  As what we understand now the idiom means “strife, scheming against one another” but it was first used to describe the complicated and inter-connected roof structure of the buildings. 我們上了一課,認識了成語“勾心鬥角“的來由 — 這句成語原指宮室建築結構的交錯和精巧;後比喻用盡心機,明爭暗鬥。

There were so much to see and to learn, and we tried hard to take in as much as possible of the history and the ethics that Confucianism promotes and be good students…

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paying attention to the guide (in yellow) and looking at what she pointed out for us to see

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

but there were the inevitable moments when everyone was distracted by the pictures taken…

After the ancient building, we moved on to the ancient trees…

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

the imaginative Chinese reckon the trunk of this very old tree resembles that of the back of a dragon

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and next to the old “dragon tree” the imagination continues as they have decided this is its mate the “phoenix tree”…

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

one more ancient tree — cypress tree planted by the Sage over 2,000 years ago…

Apart from the buildings spread throughout the vast area and the various impressive ancient trees, there were the many steles situated prominently throughout the complex too.  The steles are large stone tablets with inscriptions written by various emperors and out of the many, I only took this one as it was famous for its beautiful script.

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“孔庙第一碑” – 立於明朝成化四年(1468年),故通常稱為成化碑。

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

impressive “regular script” 成化碑的正楷書寫的十分規範化及標準化,精湛引人。

There was one more sight to see — a wall!

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

the ninth descendant of Confucius, Kong Fu (孔鮒) hid many of the Sage’s classical works in the wall of his house to protect them from the book-burning and scholar-burying Emperor Qing Shi Huang. The wall was built later during the Ming Dynasty to commemorate what Kong Fu had done – 魯壁藏書

After just over 3 hours we completed the tour of the Temple of Confucius and we were ready to walk a short distance and through a lane littered with stalls to the nearby Kong Family Mansion.

Kong family Mansion (孔府)

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entrance to the mansion

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“天下第一家”

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view of a smaller building among the many huge structures

The mansion is the historical residence of the direct descendants of Confucius.  It comprises of 152 buildings with 480 rooms, which cover an area of around 13,000 sq. metres.  Another massive site for us to explore.

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Two hours later we were done with the tour of the old mansion.  By then our stomachs were giving out urgent alarm that it was due time to look for sustenance.  The walk of the two expansive sites and the intensive learning had definitely tired us out.

Food
In Qufu, even the partaking of food was yet another literary experience for us as the dishes of the Kong family cuisine (孔府菜) were all literary-inspired with fancy names.

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

delicious smoked tofu – apparently the Kong family was famous for their own brand of smoked tofu and I wondered if this one was their original recipe

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

this symbolised the books hidden in the wall – 魯壁藏書

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

fresh carp cooked two ways — in Qufu there is a strange custom as the people do not call this fish by its proper name 鯉魚 (li yu) as Confucius’ son was named Kong Li (孔鯉), so as to show respect this fish is called 紅魚 (red fish) instead. Interesting!

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

a sweet dish with fresh yummy ginkgo

After the lunch we hopped on to a horse-drawn carriage as after walking around the two sites we had moved a long way away from where we parked our car.

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

in the roomy carriage

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

caught a view of the city

Hotel
We spent two nights in Qufu and in a nice hotel…

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandongqufu shandong china (34)

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

modern looking cafe where we had good breakfast with the big steamers for Chinese buns

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

I was impressed with the small buffet line for the kids although there was not a single kid in sight on both mornings

More Food
When you have a Chinese host it is utterly impossible to escape his/her genuine hospitality to want to feed you with an incredible amount of food, and this was one of such ocassions…

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this restaurant was like a food city in itself!

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

spoilt for choice

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

more choices…

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

decision, decision…

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

some of this?

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

and some of that?

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

the end result — this was for 7 persons only, 6 ladies and one guy!

and there was more…

It all started with my big mouth and foolish action —

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

I excitedly showed this picture to everyone — fried cicadas. Bizarre food I said!

And guess what happened next…  Host JH ordered one portion for us since none of us had tried it before, oops!

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

the dish came…

What did I do?  Well… I just had to be brave!

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I picked up one…

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put in mouth…

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

nom, nom, nom…… fortunately it was not so bad, no strong taste, the legs and wings were crunchy and the body a little chewy but not unpleasant! I had 4 all together, giving face was what I called it!

After all that food, bizarre or otherwise it certainly was only right for us to walk it off and we had just the right thing planned — we were going to conquer Taishan/Mt. Tai (泰山), our next and final destination the following day!  We were more than ready for some fresh mountain air, good exercise and a bird’s eye view of some amazing scenery!

Qufu, Confucius Temple and family Mansion, Shandong

flowers taken at the Kong Family Mansion

(Trip to Shandong – end of Part 2 of 3)

One thought on “endless gates, ancient trees and Confucianism at Qufu, Shandong

  1. Pingback: on top of Mount Tai, Shandong | Colourful Threads of Life

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