Relics of worship

Updated: 2014-08-19 07:25

By Wang Kaihao(China Daily)

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An exhibition featuring a complete set of ancient articles used during worship rituals of Confucius (551-479 BC) is now on display at the Beijing Confucius Temple and the Imperial College.

The cultural relics are from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. They include around 30 sets of musical instruments, and were selected from a collection of around 2,000 articles from the institution. Visitors can touch the antiques and play ancient musical instruments.

Royal ceremonies to worship Confucius were co-organized by multiple government departments every spring and autumn during the Qing Dynasty, says Wu Zhiyou, director of the Beijing Confucius Temple and the Imperial College. They were hosted by emperors or other high officials.

The rituals were accompanied by music and a dance troupe, and separated into six steps. Similar worship activities were held at Confucius temples around the country.

"That reflects the emperors' homage for old sages and their high praise for Confucius' philosophies, which were crucial for them to rule a feudal society," Wu says.

Annual worship rituals are held at the Beijing Confucius Temple every year on Sept 28, the Chinese educator's birthday.

Relics of worship

Wu came up with the concept for the exhibition after visiting the Confucius Temple in the sage's birthplace of Qufu, Shandong province. "Though their architecture is marvelous, I felt sad to find their collections are not that complete," he says. "Why not exhibit the treasures that are well-preserved in our storage, as we are one of the lucky Confucius temples that remains intact?"

Many cultural relics were destroyed in the anti-Confucius campaign during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76). The Beijing Confucius Temple was spared after then-premier Zhou Enlai ordered it to be protected.

"I lived in this neighborhood at that time," says Li Chaoying, curator of the exhibition. "A wooden poster saying 'Everyone is forbidden from stepping into this crucial spot of cultural relics' was hung at the front gate. All of the things inside were thus saved.

"Confucius' spirit," Li adds, "flows in Chinese people's veins."


 Relics of worship

These bells are among the selected articles at the cultural relics exhibition. Photos By Jiang Dong / China Daily

 Relics of worship

The Beijing Confucius Temple and the Imperial College boast complete and well-preserved cultural relics thanks to Zhou Enlai's order to protect them during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

 Relics of worship

A miniature model on display recreates the ancient rituals that paid respect to Confucius.

 Relics of worship

Visitors can touch ancient musical instruments that were used in ceremonies during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Wang Kaihao / China Daily

(China Daily 08/19/2014 page19)