The remains of 38 Confucian temples still exist in Shaanxi

2018-07-12 08:58:01 , Source : The Government Website of Shaanxi Province

The architecture of this Xi’an Confucian Temple is well preserved.

The ancient architecture of the Minglun Hall in the Hancheng Confucian Temple

38 Confucian temples still exist in Shaanxi

“The Confucian Temple was originally built to venerate Confucius, serving as an educational institute for promoting and spreading Confucianism. Confucian culture played a significant role in Chinese feudal society. As an important center and as an instrument to spread Confucian culture, its development course maps the history of Chinese traditional culture.” On July 3rd, Wang Yuanyin, the Deputy Director of the Xi’an Beilin Museum said in an interview. He was responsible for the investigation of the current situation of all the Confucian temples in Shaanxi. In 2014, the Shaanxi Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage officially established a project and entrusted the Xi’an Beilin Museum to carry out a two-year investigation on the Confucian temples in Shaanxi. In the meantime, the Beilin Museum selected the specially-assigned professionals to conduct field surveys across 40 cities and counties in Shaanxi. The research group used footstep measurements, on-site photographs, interviews and extensive collections of materials through various channels, so as to provide a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the history and preservation of the Confucian temples in Shaanxi.

Now Shaanxi has 38 existing remains of Confucian temples, ranking No. one in China in terms of concentration and quantity. There are 29 temples with comparatively complete architectural patterns or with the main Dacheng Hall structure. They have been listed as key cultural relics protection units at all levels, and are managed by the cultural heritage departments, including local museums and the cultural relics management committees. Among them, six Confucian temples respectively in Xi’an (subordinate to the Xi’an Beilin Museum), Xianyang, Hancheng, Heyang, Yaozhou District and Fugu County are well preserved with intact architectural patterns. All of them are listed as the national key cultural relics protection units. The large-scale Hancheng Confucian Temple is one of the few ancient building clusters from the Ming and Qing dynasties in Shaanxi with a complete structure. It is of great value to the study of ancient architecture art and institutions of Confucian temples in Shaanxi and even the northern China. In addition to the inscriptions, stone carvings and plaques, few cultural relics are preserved in the same way as the Confucian temples in Shaanxi. Only just over 500 pieces of sacrificial vessels are preserved in the Xi’an Confucian Temple.

The remaining Confucian temple buildings are incomplete

“All local Confucian temples were modeled on the style of the Confucian temple in Qufu. However, there are obvious differences in accordance with the different administrative levels.” According to the experts from the Xi’an Beilin Museum, the Confucian temples in Shaanxi basically followed this architectural pattern. However, as time goes by, the existing Confucian temple buildings become more and more incomplete.

During the investigation, the research group found that except for the Xi’an Confucian Temple where the Beilin Museum is located in, the Huyi Confucian Temple is comparatively well preserved, and the Lantian Confucian Temple has the foundation of the Dacheng Hall. Other districts and counties have fewer remains of the Confucian temples.

Confucian temples in Shaanxi continue the ceremony of “showing great respect to teachers”

The Confucian temple, serving as an important medium for Confucian culture, is far beyond the meaning of the building itself. So far, many Confucian temples in Shaanxi continue the ceremony and launch a series of activities with cultural connotations, participation, interaction and fun.

Similar to the Confucian temple in Fugu County, many cultural activities are held in the Confucian temples in Hancheng, Yangxian, Hanyin and Pucheng every year, including worshiping Confucius, taking masters as teachers and reading the classics from The Analects of Confucius. Students who have achieved excellent results in the college entrance examination are to be praised on the list in the Confucian Temples.

There is a long way to go in the protection of Confucian temples

According to the survey, 80 Confucian temples sites are recorded in the historical documents across the Shaanxi Province, but only 38 are preserved with construction remains. The existing Confucian temple remains are well protected by the cultural relics departments. As for the remains beyond the preservation lists of the protection units, some are reconstructed in other places while the rest are under the direct management and protection of the cultural relics departments such as the local museums or the cultural relics administrative committees.

Most of the staff in the Confucian temples have a strong awareness of protection. Apart from the large-scale maintenance and protection of the minority, most temples are likely to collapse due to the insufficient funds for their protection, maintenance and the reconstruction of the main bodies.

The preservation of the Confucian temples has a long way to go. During the survey on the Confucian Temples in Shaanxi, the expert group has widely collected opinions and suggestion from the Confucian temple units at county (municipal) level. Based on the combination of the actual problems and the advice, the group has put forward the proposal of establishing the Shaanxi Provincial Confucian Temple Association or the Shaanxi Provincial Confucius Research and Protection Institution, so as to better preserve and explore the cultural resources of the Confucian temples in Shaanxi, and further promote the excellent traditional Confucian culture. The Confucian Temple Association will convene regular symposiums, aiming to promote exchanges among local temples and push forward with the protection, management, research and exploitation of these temples.

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