Resurgence of Confucius?

Qufu, Shandong. It is the place where Confucius was born, in 551 B.C.. One of the most prestigious Confucius Temple locates there, appealing wave after wave of people’s visit. Currently stands there a 12 meters high statue of Confucius. However, there’s a 72-meter statue under construction — that statue will be “the highest Confucius statues in the world”… Wait, how many statues of Confucius are there in the other parts of the world other than China?

曲阜孔廟大成殿

What happened to Confucianism in China after the horror of Cultural Revolution, during which many temples were destroyed and thousands statues of the ancient philosopher were smashed into pieces?

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Confucius Research Center in Qufu. He stressed on the urgency and need to promote traditional Chinese cultures, especially Confucius classics.

President Xi does possess a very positive image since he came into office in November 2012. He pushed forcefully wide- and deep-scale of fighting corruption process, and advocated “Chinese Dream.” Comparing to his predecessors, he is not merely a political figure, but more of a public idol. Similar to former Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, whom was known as “Baobao Yeye” (宝宝爷爷, literally means Baby Grandaddy) for his easygoing character, Xi Jinping has also a nickname, “Xi Dada” (习大大,”dada” is some dialects in China, means “uncle”). His popularity excels almost all of the previous and current politicians.

In China, or in any communist regime, idol worship plays a unquestionably role in politics and society (if we want to preserve pure solitude of “culture” in this case, which we should, so that here is no “culture” written). In old Chinese empires, the words came from Emperor’s mouth have their own title — Jin Kou Yu Yan (金口玉言,mouth and words are gold and jade). Surprisingly, this title still can be applied to political leaders’ words today. After a simple sentence from the President’s mouth, millions of books are sold out, authors of these books became extremely admired or envied, State Colleges (Chinese classics institutes) are founded across the country, and of course, higher statues of our national treasure — Confucius from more than 2500 years ago — are built up.

The current world largest Confucius statue is the following one in Japan. It may explain why people in Qufu insisted to say they are building up the largest statue in the world.

on November 9, 2014, this is still the largest statue of Confucius, at the Yoshima Seido, Japan.
on November 9, 2014, this is still the largest statue of Confucius, at the Yoshima Seido, Japan.

Ancient emperors had golden mouth and said jade words as symbol of taking responsibility of his own words. Today’s words on revival of Confucianism of party leaders can 1) build up new moral slogans for society, 2) stimulate economy growth by constructing sites and spending local financial reserves, 3) improve the common understanding of Chinese traditional classics and 4) help build up a more proud and concrete national identity.

Is this wave of Confucianism slashing back a sign of revival of Chinese classics? Or rather the other things that magnets the wave and those coming along really matters more? Reading classics needs certain mind of peace. Do the Chinese still have it? Or it does not matter at all?

Further readings:

南方周末:”曲阜,复兴儒学”。http://www.infzm.com/content/105345
The Independent: “Statue marks a major rethink in China’s attitude to Confucius” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/statue-marks-a-major-rethink-in-chinas-attitude-to-confucius-2184291.html)

New York Times: “Confucius Statue Vanishes Near Tiananmen Square” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/23/world/asia/23confucius.html?_r=0)

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