On Sacred Grounds: Culture, Society, Politics, and the Formation of the Cult of Confucius

Overview

The sacred landscape of imperial China was dotted with Buddhist monasteries, Daoist temples, shrines to local deities, and the altars of the mandarinate. Prominent among the official shrines were the temples in every capital throughout the empire devoted to the veneration of Confucius. Twice a year members of the educated elite and officials in each area gathered to offer sacrifices to Confucius, his disciples, and the major scholars of the Confucian tradition.

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Overview

The sacred landscape of imperial China was dotted with Buddhist monasteries, Daoist temples, shrines to local deities, and the altars of the mandarinate. Prominent among the official shrines were the temples in every capital throughout the empire devoted to the veneration of Confucius. Twice a year members of the educated elite and officials in each area gathered to offer sacrifices to Confucius, his disciples, and the major scholars of the Confucian tradition.

The worship of Confucius is one of the least understood aspects of Confucianism, even though the temple and the cult were highly visible signs of Confucianism's existence in imperial China. To many modern observers of traditional China, the temple cult is difficult to reconcile with the image of Confucianism as an ethical, humanistic, rational philosophy. The nine essays in this book are an attempt to recover the meaning and significance of the religious side of Confucianism. Among other subjects, the authors analyze the social, cultural, and political meaning attached to the cult; its history; the legends, images, and rituals associated with the worship of Confucius; the power of the descendants of Confucius, the main temple in the birthplace of Confucius; and the contemporary fate of temples to Confucius.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674009615
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2003
  • Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs Series , #217
  • Pages: 466
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas A. Wilson is Associate Professor of History at Hamilton College.

Huang Chin-shing is Head of the History Section of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica.

Lionel M. Jensen is Associate Professor of East Asian Languages & Literatures and Concurrent Associate Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

Jun Jing is Professor of Anthropology at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tsinghua University.

Abigail Lamberton is Visiting Instructor at Gustavus Adolphus College.

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Table of Contents

Table, Maps, Music Examples, and Figures

Preface

Contributors

Maps

Introduction: Culture, Society, Politics, and the Cult of Confucius

Thomas A. Wilson

PART I RITES AND MUSIC

1. Ritualizing Confucius/Kongzi: The Family and State Cults of the Sage of Culture in Imperial China

Thomas A. Wilson

2. Destroying Confucius: Iconoclasm in the Confucian Temple

Deborah Sommer

3. Musical Confucianism: The case of 'Jikong yuewu'

Joseph S. C. Lam

PART II IMAGINING CONFUCIUS

4. The Genesis of Kongzi in Ancient Narrative: The Figurative As Historical

Lionel M. Jensen

Varied Views of the Sage: Illustrated Narratives of the Life of Confucius

Julia K. Murray

PART III POLITICS AND SOCIETY

6. The Cultural Politics of Autocracy: The Confucius Temple and Ming Despotism, 1368-1530

Huang Chin-shing

7. The Kongs of Qufu: Power and Privilege in Late Imperial China

Abigail Lamberton

PART IV THE PAST IN THE PRESENT

8. Knowledge, Organization, and Symbolic Capital: Two Temples to Confucius in Gansu

Jun Jing

9. The Confucius Temple Tragedy of the Cultural Revolution

Wang Liang

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