Walking in Confucius’ Footsteps

Immediately after arriving at Qu Fu (曲阜), the large billboards by the roads greeted us with Confucius’ famous saying from Analects, “It’s delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters!” (有朋自远方来不亦乐乎?). As guests to Confucius’ hometown, we were graciously welcomed to the little town located in the northern Shan Dong Province while reminded that modern tourism drives this century-old virtue.

Six thousand years ago, Confucius roamed the streets of Qu Fu as we did, but six thousand years past, the landscape has changed significantly since his existence. For one, the large Confucius’ Mansion was not originally Confucius’ home, but his eldest’s son built in honor of his father. Since then, the buildings and monuments have been destroyed and rebuilt several times before it is now preserved for tourism. As we walked through a door, we smelled the strong tang of a new gloss of paint on the red door. Confucius’ Temple was more glorious in its structure. The tour guide told us that Ming Dynasty’s emperors used to pay his respects to the old legacy and pointed to the strip of brick that  has a different pattern over the other bricks, “This is where the emperors used to walk to Confucius’ statue. Walk like the emperor by walking on it.” Following in line, we walked like emperors on the specially patterned bricks.

Confucius’ Cemetery was the largest. Because of the trees that complete the cemetery, the place was also known as Kong Forest. Generations of the Kong family was buried in the cemetery, with Confucius further in the forest. Buried with his wife, Confucius had the stone tablet to commemorate his burial site. I saw two men kowtow to his grave and stuff 100 RMB each into the donation box. Beside the grave was a stand for people to buy well-wishes on plates. Next to the stand, tourists left behind wishes that they paid for for 20 RMB. Because wishes was made under the influence of Confucius’ spirit, they were relevant to school and education – such a big sister wishing her little brother an bright future with endless opportunities after years of studying.

“Confucius would probably not approve of this tourism,” my professor said to us as we left the cemetery. IMG_3262