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article selected from Travel China weekly

The Confucian Temple is the place where Chinese officials in ancient times offered sacrifices to Confucius, the great ideologue, politician and educator. There are numerous Confucian Temples of various sizes all over the county. They also served as school of higher education in ancient times. All these temples were exquisitely constructed as a sign of local respect to the Sage.

A Confucian Temple has been kept intact in Anshun, Guizhou Province in southwestern China. Now it has been turned into a museum to display the colorful culture of ethnic groups in the provinces.

The temple in Anshun City is about 100 kilometers southwest of Guiyang, the provincial capital. With a history of more than 600 years, it has become one of the nine national cultural relics units in Guizhou, and is under state protection. The architectural complex consists of four courtyards constructed in ferraces, each higher than the other. After renovation and expansion in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, it assumed its present size, and is very magnificent when looked at from the front.

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Over the entrance is a stone memorial archway which has inscriptions to eulogize the great man. On the right side of the entrance is erected a stone table with carved characters reminding civil and military officials in the Ming and Qing dynasties to dismount from their horse before passing through the entrance. According to the rules, the officials had to enter from the right door and come out from the left.

The courtyard built on the second terrace is low in front and high at the back. There is a round pond with a small bridge spanning it, with stone carved railings surrounding the courtyard. According to sources, those who passed the imperial examination at the county level in the Ming and Qing dynasties had to walk over the bridge and go around the lake. Looking up over the pond, one can see the exquisite stone gateway, which is unique. Here, people can get to know the whole process of the ancients gaining rudimentary knowledge, giving instruction, passing the imperial examination at the provincial level and returning in glory, in addition to enjoying various inscriptions and beautiful trees. flowers and plants. Actually, the gateway was used to encourage people to make great progress in their career.

Behind it, is the gate to the temple's principal building, Dacheng Hall. In front of the hall are two stone lions with open mouths and over each is a huge pillar with relief sculptures of dragons. The dragons are so vividly carved as if they were flying into the sky.

There are two large pillars with carved dragons inside of the Dacheng Hall. The bases are made in the shape of a lion. The carved dragons are smaller than those on the outside, but each has unique facial expressions, and, although it seems as if the lion could not bear the weight of the pillar, yet he still holds his head high. According to reliable sources, these exquisitely carved dragon pillars are very rare except those in the Confucian Temple in Qufu, the birth place of Confucius, and have high artistic value for study.




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