Before I went to China I read how during the Cultural Revolution almost all traditional buildings and institutions were destroyed between 1968 and 1978. So I did not expect to see many old buildings in Fuzhou city. When I was taken to see all the wonderful buildings and historical sites I was taken by surprise!
In fact I had expected to see only ultra modern buildings of the later 20th century to epitomize the glorious Communist rule. I had seen how China prepared Beijing for the 2008 Olympics via CCTV.
And surprisingly the huge Confucian Temple 福州文廟 in Fuzhou City has been kept for posterity. It must have taken the Fuzhou historians and archivists a lot of courage and persistence to keep this temple in its present state given the limitations and political pressures in the past against Confucian teachings.
I was impressed by the size and the modernization of the whole site. In fact classes were going on when we visited. All the structures were in excellent condition and thousands of tourists do come in visit while tourist brochures and even computerised and touch screens are available as this is now a marvellous Government sponsored tourist site. The locals go there to worship and study and thousands of Taiwanese and Malaysians make this a must-visit part of their tour.
In fact it is the first great original Confucian Temple in China I have ever seen. There is also a big gallery showing achievements of scholars and scientists. I find this accolade very significantly inspiring and educational at the same time.
The main hall of the Confucian Temple and its open space or front ground.
Another good slogan - Teacher of ten thousand generations.
Model learning session. Confucius used student presentation method. This is still new in Malaysia.
And there is a huge set of bronze bells supposedly made during the Confucian era.
Before this visit I had only seen photos of bronze bells in books and pictures on TV. This bronze bell is known as a bo. It is decorated with dragons swallowing geese and has a handle in the shape of two dragons. It required great skill to make a bo and bells of similar size were not made in the west until a thousand years later. This bo of different sizes each play different notes. It is played with a hammer and plays two different notes depending on where it is struck. (This can be scienfically explained because of its shape and the construction)
How was harmony created through music in ancient China?
This bell was made at the beginning of the Warring States period - a time of political fragmentation and moral crisis in China. It was in this turmoil that the Chinese political philosopher Confucius developed his philosophy. Confucius had one overwhelming message: if we are to achieve a state of orderliness and peace, we need to return to traditional values of virtue. Confucius was also a keen musician and saw in music the harmony he wanted to achieve in society.
Sources : BBC Documentary and CCTV program (Rediscovering China)
Photos : (a) Nikon Coolpix
(b) Shu Yu Chuang