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Jianshui Confucius Temple 建水文庙


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Jianshui Old Town 建水故城 is full of cultural relics, and one that's outstanding is the Confucius Temple. It's one of the best preserved and is the second largest in all of China, second only to the one at his birthplace in Qufu, Shandong 山东省曲阜市。I've been to both and like this one better because it isn't so vast; the compound in Qufu is too big to tour on foot. It was built during the Yuan Dynasty 元代 about the year 1285, and like many such places, it has been restored many times. The pamphlet you get at the door on the way in after paying your 60 Yuan says it has been rebuilt 40 times. 

 

I went early one morning shortly after it opened at 8 a.m. The only people there were the early bird exercise walkers and one diligent sweeper. I entered from the rear gate, right onto a statue of the big man himself and the peaceful lake, nicknamed "scholar sea" 学海。  

 

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Walking around the peaceful lake gave a view of the bridge and one of the gate tower complexes before the sun was high in the sky. 

 

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Each of these gates has a ceremonial name. Although I admired the architecture, I was glad I wasn't being towed around by a tour guide who wanted to read all the inscriptions out loud. In fact, I didn't see any tour groups the whole time I was there. 

 

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Another gate and a gardener hard at work on his ladder trimming the tropical trees still in full bloom even though it was early January. Eat your heart out Dongbei 东北。Throughout the grounds were a number of smaller pagodas where one could study or just enjoy the peace and quiet. 

 

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I suddenly heard the sounds of ancient music, strings, woodwinds, cymbals and gongs. Followed the sound and discovered some sort of musical performance by men and women in robes with scholar's hats. Sat down to enjoy this unexpected bonus. The music would pause from time to time and one of the men would stand and approach the main alter, bowing and reciting some sort of verse, perhaps something by Confucius. 

 

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Afterwards I walked into the main hall behind the musicians to see the statues of Confucius and probably some of his disciples. Confucian thought isn't really a religion, but it sure has some of the trappings of one. You could kneel and pray, burn incense and make offerings. 

 

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Made my way out, passing some less used areas. Eventually reached the main gate and got another look at those delicate flowers. (Do any of you know their name? Just wondering.) 

 

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It was Sunday morning and outside the main gate people were dancing. A cluster of ladies were doing folk dances with drums, while nearby couples were waltzing. It was another one of those "only in China" moments. 

 

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abcdefg
10 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

What about the red dedication plaques?

 

Not sure which ones you mean. Are you referring to the 50 or 60 steles arranged along one of the hallways and in one of the pavilions? I recall that one was allegedly inscribed by the Yongzheng Emperor (Qing) and another by the Qianlong Emperor (also Qing.) This temple, way down south in Jianshui, attracted royal attention on quite a few occasions.

 

It played a part in the Imperial Exam system. In other parts of the Old Town once can see actual examination halls, scholar dormitories, and such.   

 

One thing that impressed me was how the temple has stayed alive and vital today. In addition to having classes, programs and activities to further Confucian education, today they also have a fully-accredited middle school right on the grounds. It teaches a full curriculum of the usual academic subjects in addition to topics designed to instill Confucian values and virtues. The kids also have some extra-curricular activities designed with that same goal in mind. 

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Alex_Hart

Square dancing in the morning? I think it's always at night here. Morning is for 太极拳! Thanks for the pictures, abc.

 

When I went to the Confucius Temple, they were having a calligraphy event. I don't think it was a class as they were all pretty fantastic. I also remember seeing tons of fish sitting around in the pond, lined up under where the trees were to eat the stuff falling down. Never seen so many lazy fish in my life. Lucky you to hear the music!

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