Mount Tai or Taishan in Chinese, located in east China's Shandong province, is a mountain of historical and cultural significance. The word Tai in Chinese means stability and peace, and the name Tai'an is attributed to the saying: "If Mount Tai is stable, so is the entire country" (both characters of Tai'an have an independent meaning of stability and peace). Mount Tai is crowned by Jade Emperor Peak (in Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor is the most powerful god in heaven) with an altitude of 1,545 meters. The formation of Mount Tai dates back to the Archeozoic Era, and now it is growing at the speed of 0.5 millimeters per year. It faces the Yellow Sea to the east and the Yellow River to the west and is in the neighborhood of Confucius' hometown, Qufu, and the City of Springs, Jinan. In 1987, Mount Tai was listed as both a World Natural Heritage and World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO.
For thousands of years, Mount Tai has been the sacred mountain where Emperors held the ceremony of offering sacrifices to heaven and earth to pray and say thanks for peace and prosperity. Seventy-two emperors are said to have performed mountain worship ceremonies on Mount Tai. Among them, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty had visited Mount Tai eight times. It is the first and foremost thing for emperors to do when they ascend to the throne because Mount Tai is seen as the symbol of the county's peace and prosperity. Mount Tai held a sacred position in state politics, and also enjoyed a high status in the world of Taoism and Buddhism. The temples on its slopes have been a destination for pilgrims for 3,000 years.
The Kong Family Mansion, otherwise known as Kongfu. It is the place where Confucius’ descendants lived in. In Chinese history, Confucius’ descendants were called “Yanshenggong.” Confucius’ descendants strictly kept their family rules and rituals. By the influence of Confucian rituals, the buildings were designed with the standards and routines of the Confucian patriarchal system and ethics. Kong Family Mansion was created precisely as Chinese traditions of “the hall in front, the living room in the back.” The front hall was divided into three individual spaces, which were “Guanya” – the place for work, “Dongxue” – the site for the reception, and “Xixue” – the place for entertainment. The living rooms were designed for daily lives.
The scale of the Kong Family Mansion is enormous. It is almost as large as the mansions of the emperors in the Ming Dynasty (1364-1683) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). There were more than 170 buildings with more than 560 rooms at the very beginning but remained 152 buildings with 480 rooms now. Some of these buildings were damaged and destroyed in history. Lots of precious historical relics were preserved in Kong Family Mansion: Calligraphies of the emperors, royal poetries, books, splendid instruments…, almost everything was bestowed to Confucius and his descendants. The emperors of past dynasties showed their honors to them. And Confucius’ descendants had got into the habit of collecting the ancient relics to enrich the relics collection.
Temple of Confucius, one of the most renowned Confucius temples in China, is undoubtedly among the most important. Temple of Confucius was built to worship Confucius (September 28, 551 BC – 479 BC), the Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese thought and life by Chinese Feudal dynasty. It is a group of grand, majestic, oriental-featured ancient buildings. It is the second-largest scale ancient Chinese buildings (the largest one is the Forbidden City in Beijing).
The temple, now listed as China’s Top Three Ancient Buildings (the other two are: the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Summer Resort in Chengde), plays a vital role in the world’s architecture history. It was built at the site of Confucius’ former residence with a standard of ancient Chinese imperial palace.
Confucius died in April 479 BC and was buried in the north of Lu City (now called Qufu) where his descendants were also buried after their deaths. More than 1,000 trees were planted since the first tree planted by Zigong – one of Confucius’ favorite pupils. The Cemetery of Confucius was repaired and rebuilt 13 times by the emperors of many Chinese dynasties sine Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) and finally shaped its scale of two square kilometers with a protection wall of 5.6 kilometers in length, more than three meters in height and one meter in thickness.
Guo Moruo (1892-1978), one of the most famous Chinese modern writers praised:” The Cemetery of Confucius is one of the best nature museums as well as the annals of Confucius’ family.” Nowadays, the Cemetery of Confucius has played an important role for analyzing the development of Chinese ancient politics, economy and culture as well as the changes of Chinese funeral customs.
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