Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and 
the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu (1994)
China

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The temple, cemetery and family mansion of Confucius, the great philosopher, politician and educator of the 6th5th centuries B.C., are located at Qufu, in Shandong Province. Built to commemorate him in 478 B.C., the temple has been destroyed and reconstructed over the centuries; today it comprises more than 100 buildings. 

The cemetery contains Confucius' tomb and the remains of more than 100,000 of his descendants. The small house of the Kong family developed into a gigantic aristocratic residence, of which 152 buildings remain. The Qufu complex of monuments has retained its outstanding artistic and historic character due to the devotion of successive Chinese emperors over more than 2,000 years. 

  • China 1947. Confucius. (Scott #741). Confucius, in Chinese Kongfuzi or K'ung Fu-tzu (c. 551 - c.479 BC), a Chinese philosopher and one of the most influential figures in Chinese history. 

China 1947. Confucius. (Scott #741).

According to tradition, Confucius was born in the state of Lu (present-day Shandong [Shantung] Province) of the noble Kong clan. His original name was Kong Qiu (Kong Chiu). His father, commander of a district in Lu, died three years after Confucius was born, leaving the family in poverty; but Confucius nevertheless received a fine education. He was married at the age of 19 and had one son and two daughters. During the four years immediately after his marriage, poverty compelled him to perform menial labors for the chief of the district in which he lived. His mother died in 527 BC, and after a period of mourning he began his career as a teacher, usually traveling about and instructing the small body of disciples that had gathered around him. His fame as a man of learning and character and his reverence for Chinese ideals and customs soon spread through the principality of Lu.

China 1947. Confucius' Lecturing School (Scott #742).

Living as he did in the second half of the Zhou dynasty (Chou dynasty; c. 1045 - 256 BC), when feudalism degenerated in China and intrigue and vice were rampant, Confucius deplored the contemporary disorder and lack of moral standards. He came to believe that the only remedy was to convert people once more to the principles and precepts of the sages of antiquity. 

He therefore lectured to his pupils on the ancient classics. He taught the great value of the power of example. Rulers, he said, can be great only if they themselves lead exemplary lives, and were they willing to be guided by moral principles, their states would inevitably become prosperous and happy.

  • China 1947. Confucius' Lecturing School (Scott #742). 

Confucius had, however, no opportunity to put his theories to a public test until, at the age of 50, he was appointed magistrate of Zhongdu (Chung-tu), and the next year minister of crime of the state of Lu. 

His administration was successful; reforms were introduced, justice was fairly dispensed, and crime was almost eliminated. So powerful did Lu become that the ruler of a neighboring state maneuvered to secure the minister's dismissal. Confucius left his office in 496 BC, traveling about and teaching, vainly hoping that some other prince would allow him to undertake measures of reform. In 484 BC, after a fruitless search for an ideal ruler, he returned for the last time to Lu. He spent the remaining years of his life in retirement, writing commentaries on the classics. He died in Lu and was buried in a tomb at Qufu (Ch'-fu), Shandong.
  • China 1947. Tomb of Confucius (Scott #743). 

China 1947. Tomb of Confucius (Scott #743).

China 1947. Temple of Confucius (Scott #744).

The entire teaching of Confucius was practical and ethical, rather than religious. He claimed to be a restorer of ancient morality and held that proper outward acts based on the five virtues of kindness, uprightness, decorum, wisdom, and faithfulness constitute the whole of human duty. Reverence for parents, living and dead, was one of his key concepts. His view of government was paternalistic, and he enjoined all individuals to observe carefully their duties toward the state. In subsequent centuries his teachings exerted a powerful influence on the Chinese nation.
  • China 1947. Temple of Confucius (Scott #744). 

Confucius did not put into writing the principles of his philosophy; these were handed down only through his disciples. The Lunyu (Analects), a work compiled by some of his disciples, is considered the most reliable source of information about his life and teachings. One of the historical works that he is said to have compiled and edited, the Chunqiu (Spring and Autumn Annals), is an account of Chinese history in the state of Lu from 722 to 481 bc. In learning he wished to be known as a transmitter rather than as a creator, and he therefore revived the study of the ancient books. His own teachings, together with those of his main disciples, are found in the SiShu (Ssu Shu; Four Books) of Confucian literature, which became the textbooks of later Chinese generations. Confucius was greatly venerated during his lifetime and in succeeding ages. Although he himself had little belief in the supernatural, he has been revered almost as a spiritual being by millions. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in China (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section China for further information about the individual properties.  

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Revised 20 jun 2007  
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