Statue of Confucius
Confucius Temple, Chongming,
The mores background of the Chinese people is deeply shaped by the Confucian philosophy (儒家; Rujia). Confucius' thought stresses ethical, moral and social values. This system of values is sometimes considered as the proper culture of the Chinese; consequently, for centuries it has targeted religious tendencies. According to the Confucian thought every culture should carry on its own primordial ethnic religion, which two main aspects are reverence for nature and for the ancient fathers; in the case of the Chinese it is the Chinese folk religion and Taoism compound, which pivotal element is the worship of ancestor gods. Confucianism arose during the 5th century BCE from the teachings of Confucius, collected under the name of the Analects. The Han Dynasty eventually made Confucianism the official state culture, along with Taoism which was the official religion.
Confucian social and political system remained established until 1912, when it was rejected by the new Republic of China and subsequently by the People's Republic of China. Since the 2000s Confucianism have been experiencing a great revival in China, as it is supported by the central government. The People's Republic of China is establishing institutes for Confucian education all over the world. The headquarter of all Confucius Institutes around the world locates in Beijing. China has established 300 of such institutes as of 2010. With the recent rise of nationalism and cultural conservatism among Chinese intellectuals, a growing number of them are converting to Confucianism and working to make it an institutional religion (see the relative section).
Located at No. 215, Wenmiao Road, Confucius Temple is the only ancient architectural complex dedicated to Confucius in central Shanghai. It was originally built between 1368 and 1398 to worship Confucius (BC551-479) who was a great thinker, educator, and founder of the Confucianism in China. Thereafter, it had been the top learning institution of Shanghai over a long time. Shanghai Confucius Temple is one of the four ancient stone carving groups in China, famed as the 'Treasure House of Stone Carving Art'. It consists of over 28 ancient buildings built with a large number of stone carvings, including Zunjing Pagoda, Dacheng Hall and Minlun Hall. Except for seven buildings which were destroyed or pulled down, the rest are mostly well preserved. The temple has three courtyards. The first courtyard is mainly made up of Jiexiao Hall, Minglun Hall and Panchi Pond, all of which are well-preserved. Over Panchi, there is a bridge, whose archways were built with stone dragon and lion heads. Walking though the carved stone arch - Lingxing Gate, you will come to the second courtyard, where are Kuiwen Tower for storing books bestowed by emperors, and Zunjing Tower for storing scriptures. Both of the two buildings were built with multiple-eave roofs. The third courtyard, the central of the Confucius temple, consists of the Dacheng Gate, Dacheng Hall, and bell and drum towers. As the main building of the temple, Dacheng Hall is the main hall to worship Confucius, presenting a look of great solemnity and serenity. There is a huge bell weighing 1.5 tons in the southeast of the hall, named Dacheng Bell and made with exquisite techniques. The shoulders of the bell are carved with dragon patterns of the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC - 476 BC), and there are four couples of dragons encircling shining pearls towards each other on the lower rim of the bell. There are also carved a painting depiction of Confucius' journey made up of 24 orderly lined carriages. It's said that the sound of Dacheng Bell is loud and mellow, and can last as long as 3 minutes. In front of the main door of Dacheng Hall in the open-air, there is a bronze statue of Confucius, holding a sword. Entering the hall, a golden sitting statue of Confucius is situated in the very middle, aside whom are his two outstanding students Yan Hui and Zeng Shen. On the beam are hung three tablets inscribed by the emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). On the eastern and western walls were inserted 16,400-character stone carvings of Confucian Analects carved on 52 bluestones, which is unique among all of the Confucius temples in China. Based on its profound cultural foundation, a book and periodical market has been build in the northeast corner of the temple, imitating the book houses of the Ming and Qing (1368 – 1644) Dynasties. A great variety of books and periodicals are sold there, including cartoons, swordsman novels, and magazines ranging from the ancient times till present day. From about 20:00 every Sunday, many intellectuals in Shanghai will gather at the book market. Besides, a three-storey building styled with the architectures of the Confucius temple has also been built based oupon the broken walls of the Laodaoqian Street, Menghua Street, and Xuegong Street, which are full of stores selling antiques, paintings, ancient coins, and stamps. At the end of a year, a traditional cultural item – a temple fair is held in the temple. Then, a bell tolling ceremony is held in front of the statue of Confucius in the temple, in the hope of encourage the students' resolution to study hard. In the Sky and Cloud Reflection Pond, there are activities like making wishes by holding candles and setting free turtles and fishes. In Dacheng Gate Square and in the Minglun Hall, there are performances by folk artists; in the Confucius Study Hall, there is tea way performance; on the square in front of the Zunjing Tower, there is riddles guessing…