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Confucian Temples

 

Across Asia lie a host of immaculately designed temples, dedicated to honoring the memory of Confucius and other philosophers at the heart of Confucianism.

Mainland China is home to several of the most prominent temples; however Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia and Hong Kong also feature temples of their own.

Confucius' hometown of Qufu holds the oldest and largest Confucian Temple. Built just a year after his death in 479 BC, this Temple of Confucius has gone to influence the building of many more around Asia. It's also a Unesco World Heritage Site, receiving status in 1994, and draws visitors from worldwide, who wish to experience the icon building and see the birthplace, family mansion and burial ground of Confucius for themselves.

Confucius Temples

Appearance


Confucian Temples are distinct in appearance, and are often recognized for their iconic Asian theme. The temples have been influenced by Buddhist design; however a big difference is that Confucian Temples are often free from imagery.

Emperor Taizu of the Ming dynasty ordered the removal of all paintings and statues within the temples, which were to later be replaced with spirit tables. The idea behind the decision was that Confucian teachings should be worshipped, not Confucius himself.

Though, many have kept their collection of relics over the years, including the main temple in Qufu.

All temples are artistically built, and represent the architectural style of their given region. Each temple will have its own unique design, with differences visible depending on which Asian region it resides in.


Purpose


After the death of Confucius, many of his disciples attempted to bring his teachings to a wider Asian audience. This proved to be more difficult than expected. In order to preserve the wisdoms of Confucius and all those who accompanied him, designated worship areas were created to allow followers a place to give homage, and allow non-followers the chance to educate themselves on the teachings of the sage.

Over time, as Confucius' influence grew, more and more temples were built. Even thousands of years after his death, the development of new temples still took place.

The Van Mieu in Vietnam was built in 1070, while in the Zuoying District of Taiwan a temple was established in 1974, proving what a profound impact Confucius had on the lives of everybody.



"I want you to be everything that's you, deep at the center of your being."
(Confucius)

 



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