A temple of
Confucius or Confucian temple is a temple for the
Confucius and the sages and philosophers of Confucianism
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion and other East Asian religions. They were
formerly the site of the administration of the imperial examination in
Vietnam and often housed schools and other studying
5 Outside mainland China
5.1 Hong Kong
6 List of temples
7 See also
9 External links
The temples are known by a variety of names throughout East Asia. The
two greatest temples in
Qufu and Beijing are now known in Chinese as
"Temples of Confucius" (Kǒngmiào). In Shanghai, Vietnam, Korea, and
Indonesia, they are known as "Temples of Literature" (Chinese:
wénmiào; Vietnamese: văn miếu; Korean: munmyo; Indonesian: boen
bio) or "Temples of the Sage of Literature" (Vietnamese: văn thánh
miếu). In Southern China, however, temples by that name generally
honor Wenchang Wang, a separate deity associated with the scholar
Zhang Yazi. In Japan, they are usually known as "Temples" or "Halls of
the Sage" (Japanese: seibyō or seidō, respectively).
Hall of Great Perfection (Dacheng Hall) of the
Confucius temple in
The development of state temples devoted to the cult of
an outcome of his gradual canonisation. In 195 BC, Han Gao Zu, founder
Han Dynasty (r. 206–195 BC), offered a sacrifice to the
Confucius at his tomb in Qufu. Sacrifices to the spirit of
Confucius and that of Yan Hui, his most prominent disciple, began in
the Imperial University (Biyong) as early as 241.
In 454, the
Liu Song dynasty of southern China built a prominent state
Confucian temple. In 489, the
Northern Wei constructed a Confucian
temple in the capital, the first outside of
Qufu in the north. In 630,
Tang Dynasty decreed that schools in all provinces and counties
should have a Confucian temple, as a result of which temples spread
throughout China. Well-known Confucian shrines include the Confucian
Temple in Jianshui, the Confucian
Xi'an (now the Forest of
Steles), the Fuzi Miao in Nanjing, and the Confucian
Beijing, first built in 1302. The Confucian
Temple of old Tianjin is
located on Dongmennei Dajie, a short distance west of Traditional
Culture Street (Gu Wenhua Jie). Occupying 32 acres of land, The
Temple is the largest extant traditional architectural
complex in Tianjin.
The largest and oldest
Confucius is found in Confucius'
Shandong Province. It was established in
479 BC, one year after Confucius's death, at the order of the Duke Ai
of the State of Lu, who commanded that the Confucian residence should
be used to worship and offer sacrifice to Confucius. The temple was
expanded repeatedly over a period of more than 2,000 years until it
became the huge complex currently standing. There is another temple in
Quzhou. In addition to Confucian temples associated with the state
cult of Confucius, there were also ancestral temples belonging to the
Kong lineage, buildings commemorating Confucius's deeds throughout
China, and private temples within academies.
The gates of the
Confucius in Datong, Shanxi.
Beginning in the Tang dynasty (618–907), Confucian temples were
built in prefectural and county schools throughout the empire, either
to the front of or on one side of the school. The front gate of the
temple is called the Lingxing Gate (simplified Chinese: 棂星门;
traditional Chinese: 欞星門). Inside there are normally three
courtyards, although sometimes there are only two. However, the
Qufu has nine courtyards containing scores of steles
commemorating visits by an emperor or imperial grants of noble titles
upon descendants of Confucius. The main building, situated in the
inner courtyard with entry via the Dachengmen (simplified Chinese:
大成门; traditional Chinese: 大成門), is called the Dachengdian
(Chinese: 大成殿), variously translated as "Hall of Great
Achievement", "Hall of Great Completion", or "Hall of Great
Perfection". In imperial China, this hall housed the Spirit Tablets
(Chinese: 神位) of
Confucius and those of other important sages
(simplified Chinese: 圣; traditional Chinese: 聖) and worthies
(simplified Chinese: 贤; traditional Chinese: 賢). In front of the
Qufu is the Apricot Pavilion or Xingtan (simplified
Chinese: 杏坛; traditional Chinese: 杏壇). Another important
building behind the main building is the Shrine of Adoring the Sage
(Chongshengci simplified Chinese: 崇圣祠; traditional Chinese:
崇聖祠), which honoured the ancestors of
Confucius and the fathers
Four Correlates and Twelve Philosophers.
Main hall of the
Confucius in Ningbo, Zhejiang.
Buddhist temples, Confucian temples do not normally
have images. In the early years of the temple in Qufu, it appears that
the spirits of
Confucius and his disciples were represented with wall
paintings and clay or wooden statues. Official temples also contained
Confucius himself. However, there was opposition to this
practice, which was seen as imitative of
Buddhist temples. It was
also argued that the point of the imperial temples was to honour
Confucius's teachings, not the man himself.
The lack of unity in likenesses in statues of
Confucius first led
Emperor Taizu of the
Ming dynasty to decree that all new Confucian
temples should contain only spirit tablets and no images. In 1530, it
was decided that all existing images of
Confucius should be replaced
with spirit tablets in imperial temples in the capital and other
bureaucratic locations; nevertheless many modern Confucian temples do
feature statues. Statues also remained in temples operated by
Confucius's family descendants, such as that in Qufu.
Prayer plaques in a temple of Confucius
The state cult of
Confucius centred upon offering sacrifices to
Confucius's spirit in the Confucian temple.
Aak musicians at a Confucian ceremony in
Munmyo Shrine, Korea
A dance known as the Eight-Row Dance (八佾舞), consisting of eight
columns of eight dancers each, was also performed. Originally this was
a Six-Row Dance, as performed for the lesser aristocracy, but in 1477
Confucius was allowed the imperial honour of the eight-row dance since
he posthumously received the title of king. Musicians who accompanied
this dance played a form of music termed yayue.
In addition to worshipping Confucius, Confucian temples also honour
the "Four Correlates", the "Twelve Philosophers", and other disciples
and Confucian scholars through history. The composition and number of
figures worshipped changed and grew through time. Since temples were a
statement of Confucian orthodoxy, the issue of which Confucians to
enshrine was a controversial one.
Confucius in Jiading, now a suburb of Shanghai. The
Confucius now operates a museum devoted to the
imperial exam formerly administered at the temples.
By the Republican period (20th century), there were a total of 162
figures worshipped. The
Four Correlates are Yan Hui, Zeng Shen, Kong
Ji (Zisi), and Mencius. The
Twelve Philosophers are
Min Sun (Ziqian),
Ran Geng (Boniu),
Ran Yong (Zhonggong), Zai Yu (Ziwo), Zi-gong, Ran
You, Zi-Lu, Zi-You, Zi-Xia, Zi-Zhang, You Ruo, and Zhu Xi. A list of
Confucius and their place in the Confucian temple can be
found at Disciples of Confucius.
The Hall of Great Achievement of the
Confucius in Harbin,
Outside mainland China
With the spread of Confucian learning throughout East Asia, Confucian
temples were also built in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. Starting in the
18th century, some were even built in Europe and the Americas. At
their height, there are estimated to have been over 3,000 Confucian
temples in existence.
The bill allowing for the building of the very first Confucian Temple
in Hong Kong, proposed by the Confucian Academy, passed in September
2013. The location of the temple was decided to be near the famous
Taoist temple, Wong Tai Sin Temple, in Wong Tai Sin District.
The first Confucian temple in
Taiwan to be constructed was the Taiwan
Confucian Temple, which was built during the period of Tungning
Kingdom in 1665 in Tainan. A more recent one, the
Temple, was built on Wenwu Street in
Taipei in 1879, torn down by
Japanese in 1907 to make place for the
Taipei First Girls' High
School, and re-erected on Dalong Street from 1925 to 1939. The new
temple was designed by Wang Yi-Shun, who also oversaw its
construction. The design is an example of typical
Fujian temple style.
Every year on September the 28th, the birthday of Confucius, city
authorities hold the Shidian (Chinese: 釋奠) Ceremony here. In
addition, there is a Confucian temple located in
Zuoying District of
Kaohsiung that was completed in 1974 in the Northern Song
architectural style. Other Confucian Temples are found in Chiayi City,
Taipei, Taichung and Changhua County.
Vietnam is called Văn Miếu. The earliest
recorded Văn Miếu in
Vietnam is the Văn Miếu, Hanoi, established
in 1070. After 1397, with the construction of schools throughout
Vietnam under the Tran, Confucian temples began to spread throughout
the country. Another renowned Vietnamese Confucian temple is the Văn
Miếu, Hưng Yên, located in Hưng Yên City. Well-known Confucian
temples were built in Huế, Tam Kỳ, Hội An, Hưng Yên, Hải
Dương, Biên Hòa,
Vĩnh Long and Bắc Ninh.
Outside China, the largest number of Confucian temples is found in
Korea. Temples were first built during the
Goryeo period (918–1392).
In the time of
Yi Seonggye (r. 1392–1398), it was decreed that
Confucian temples should be built in all areas of the nation. Although
Chinese models were followed, variations in layout and construction
were common, such as the building of schools in front of temples.
Korea also added its own scholars (the eighteen scholars of the East)
to the Confucian pantheon.
Korea had a total of 362 temples devoted to the cult of
World War II
World War II and the division of the country, those
in the North were converted to other uses. However, many of the 232
temples in the South continued their activities (see Munmyo). In
addition to temples devoted to the cult of Confucius, the Republic of
Korea also has twelve Confucian family temples, two temples in private
schools, and three libraries.
Confucian temples (孔子廟, kōshi-byō) were also widely built in
Japan, often in conjunction with Confucian schools. The most famous is
the Yushima Seido, built in 1630 during the Edo period as a private
school connected with the Neo-Confucianist scholar Hayashi Razan.
Originally built in Shinobi-ga-oka in Ueno, it was later moved to
Yushima (Ochanomizu) by the Tokugawa Shogunate and reopened as a
Confucianism to spread the teachings of the Hayashi school.
Other well-known Confucian temples are found in Nagasaki, Bizen,
Taku, Saga prefecture; and Naha, Okinawa
Confucian church in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Main article: Confucian church
Confucian temples are also found in Indonesia, where they are often
known as "Churches of Confucius" as
Confucianism is a recognised
religion in that country. In Chinese, these establishments are known
as litang (礼堂) or "halls of worship". The largest and oldest is
the Boen Bio in Surabaya, originally built in the city's
1883 and moved to a new site in 1907. There are reportedly more than
100 Confucianist halls of worship throughout Indonesia.
The first Confucian temple in Malaysia was built within a primary
school known as
Chung Hwa Confucian School (which has since split into
SJK(C) Chung Hwa Confucian A, B and SMJK Chung Hwa Confucian) in
Penang, in the early 20th Century. The building of the school was
initiated by the
Qing dynasty ambassador to the British Straits
Settlement at that time. In those days parents in
Penang brought their
children to this temple for prayer before they began their schooling.
The children prayed for excellence in their studies.
There are also 2 Confucian schools in Kuala Lumpur, namely SMJK
Confucian and Confucian Private School, and a Confucian school in
Malacca where ceremonies in honour of
Confucius are held annually.
List of temples
This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Confucius in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
The Daizhou Confucian
Temple in Dai County, Shanxi.
Confucius in Qufu, China (Confucius's home town)
Confucius in Beijing, China
Temple of the Master in Nanjing, China
Confucius in Shanghai, China
Confucius in Suzhou, China
Confucius in Jianshui, Yunnan, China (建水文庙)
Confucius in Daixian, Shanxi, China
Confucius in Taipei, Taiwan
Confucius in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Confucius in Tainan,
Taiwan Confucian Temple")
Confucius in Changhua, Taiwan
Confucius Shrine, the
Confucius in Nagasaki, Japan
Confucius in Naha, Okinawa, Japan
Confucius in Taku, Japan
Yushima Seidō, the
Confucius in Tokyo, Japan
Confucius in Seoul, South Korea
Văn Miếu in Hanoi, Vietnam
Văn Miếu in Hưng Yên, Vietnam
Văn Miếu in Hải Dương, Vietnam
Văn Miếu in Bắc Ninh, Vietnam
Văn Miếu in Nghệ An, Vietnam
Văn Miếu in Khánh Hòa, Vietnam
Văn Miếu in Đồng Nai, Vietnam
Văn Miếu in Vĩnh Long, Vietnam
Mansion and Cemetery of Confucius
^ Liu, Xu. Tang shu 唐書. Beijing: Zhonghua shuji.
^ Sommer, Deborah (2002). "Destroying Confucius: Iconoclasm in the
Confucian Temple". On Sacred Grounds: Culture, Society, Politics and
the Formation of the Cult of Confucius: 95–133.
^ "孔廟黃大仙新地標" [Wong Tai Sin
Temple of Confucius
landmark]. The Sun (in Chinese). Hong Kong. 11 September 2013.
Archived from the original on 23 September 2013.
^ "Dịch hai chữ Văn Miếu ra tiếng Tây".
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Confucian temples.
Images of the
Temple of Culture, with detailed history of Confucian
Full Virtual Walk & Info on
Confucius Temple, Beijing
Asian Historical Architecture: Fuzimiao in Nanjing
Asian Historical Architecture: Confucian temple in Suzhou
The Confucian temple in Tainan
Surabaya, with description of Boen Bio