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Suzhou Confucius Temple


Suzhou Confucius Temple or Suzhou Confucian Temple (苏州文庙) including a stele inscription museum is a key cultural site under the national protection. The Confucius temple was built in 1035 by Fan Zhongyan, a famous official of Northern Song Dynasty. Up to now, it has a history more than 960 years. The temple is near to the Classical Garden of Blue Wave Pavilion.

The Introduction to Suzhou Confucius Temple

In the second year of Fan Zhongyan(范仲淹, 989-1052, a quite influential official in northern Song Dynasty in charge of the historical famous Qingli Reform) acting as the prefectural governor of Suzhou, he invited Hu Yuan(胡瑗, 993-1059, a famous educationist of that time for his great educational theory and his achievements of educational reform in Huzhou, Zhejiang province) to managing the prefectural academy.

The Grand Achievement Hall of Suzhou Confucius Temple

Since then, the whole Confucian temple with the prefectural education became quite famous and popular all round the country, and became the model of regional education. After that, the whole temple was expanded, and up to the time of Ming and Qing Dynasties, the scale and size of the Confucian temple were larger too much than it in the past, and boasted the No.1 of Jiangnan Education. It was the second largest Confucius temple next to the Confucius Temple in Qufu, Shandong Province, at the time.

Today, the size is only one sixth of the former. The remained tourist sites include Lingxing Gate, Ji Gate, Grand Achievement Hall, Sage-Worshipping Hall, Seven-Star Pool and Virtue-Clarification Hall, The Stone Inscription of Wen Tianxiang(文天祥, 1236-1283, the last prime minster of Southern Song Dynasty and honored very much by the later generation for his loyalty and patriotism) and so on.

The Grand Achievement Hall(大成殿) is the main building of the Confucius Temple. The whole hall is supported by 50 nanmu columns, and it is indeed rarely seen. The whole building was built in 1141, and rebuilt in the middle period of Ming Dynasty by Kuang Zhong (况钟, 1381-1442), the governor of Suzhou. But the beam fram, arch and the edges all follow the style of Song Dynasty. The whole building scale in Suzhou is only inferior to the Sanqing Hall of Xuanmiao Taoist Temple. It is also the best preserved ancient building in Suzhou, and belongs to the national key cultural site.

The Lingxing Gate of Suzhou Confucius Temple

Lingxing Gate(棂星门) was the gate of the whole Confucius Temple. In 1322, the gate was rebuilt. On the both columns, there are the carvings of the dragons, the phoenix and the cloudy cranes, or the flowers and so on. Lingxing Gate in ancient times was only built for the mausoleum of emperors, and Confucius was also a king or emperor in some way, and he was respected to be Su Wang(素王, anciently considered as the alternative name of Confucius with a meaning of doing emperors’ work without emperors’ throne, and this explanation was supported by philosopher Feng Youlan) , and also worshipped as the sage as great as the emperors, so his ranking was equal to the emperors. And then his memorial temple is generally built in line with the requirements of the emperors. The style of the Lingxing gate is said to be designed according the gate of the heaven.

Actually, in another way, Lingxing is a star on the sky, and usually explained to be the star of wisdom(文曲星). In ancient period, the scholars were compared to be the star of wisdom. Furthermore, there is an old saying goes: before sacrificing to the heaven, people have to honor Lingxing. Confucius was the star of the heaven, and he represented the heaven, so worshipping Confucius has the equivalence to worshipping the heaven.

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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