Confucius Temple and Imperial Academy

We found Confucius temple and old Imperial Academy on a tour guide. So We decided to visit there as they probably won’t have hordes of tourists like Forbidden City or Great Wall of China.

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The subway station is at the Lama Temple, which used to be the home of the two greatest emperors when they were princes.  The place was later designated to be a temple for Tibentan monks, which subsequently becomes the center of Tibetan Buddhism.  The place was reopened for public after Cultural Revolution.

Since my mom has already visited the temple with my dad, we decided to move on to the Confucius temple right across.

You could tell which street has the Confucius temple and Imperial Academy by the elegant traditional gate of honor at the beginning of the street.

As we approached the Confucius Temple, we heard an eloquent speech from a corner, then found this young man standing in front of an elegant hutong house, patiently accounting the history of hutong (traditional Beijinger alleyway).  We stood and listened.  Turned out he was one of the tour guides for Song Tang Zhai Museum.  This museum, which sits right next to Confucius Temple, is the first private museum in China.

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The original doors of this court yard, with couplet on the doors indicating the generosity and religiousness of the family.  It is no surprise that the house used to be the home of the Deputy Principal of the Imperial Academy.

Relief at the entrance depicting devil’s guardian to scare any evil or misfortune away.  The relief was made in Ming Dynasty.  In order to protect this piece of national treasure during Cultural Revolution, the owner of the house used mortar to fill up the space.  Of course, simply filling it up would not ensure its safety.  So they also put “Long Live the Chairman Mao, Long Live the Communist Party” in big red letters on top.

You could still see the mortar marks on this piece of work.

Listening to the history and the downfall of the original owners in the spacious courtyard.

Drainage made of white jade right in front of the inner gate where the owner actually lives with his family.  Servants not related to the housework will not be able to enter through this door.  Daughter of the owner will also not be able to go out of this door until she marries.

The drainage is located right in front of this door signifies that one should cleanse him/herself before seeing this family.

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In side the actual house itself is a long hallway which ended with an incense burner.

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One of the only two Buddha sculptures made out of rosewood. It later received a layer or gold by a believer whose prayer was answered.

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We followed the guide to a secret basement, where the downfall of the family was first discovered.  This sign indicates that everyone could speak freely here.  Another stone was later discovered indicating that the family was studying and helping the original emperor to convert into constitutional monarchy.  The effort eventually failed with the emperor’s power taken over by his mother.

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An old screen used to punish those who has wronged in the family.  On each of the screen lists the things that one should think over. One would stand in front of the screen that is related to his actions silently for hours.  This door is not only used for educating children, but adults as well.  One of the screens, for example, said “educate your children”, and another, “harmony with neighbors”.

A little poem that is served as motto for the family, it could be read horizontally and vertically.

a bronze horse saved during the fall of Yuanmingyuan.  Yuanmingyuan was the grandest imperial summer place, kind like Versailles in France. It was burned down by Europeans during the Eight Nations Alliance War a hundred years ago.  The burning went for three days and nights.  Now the remaining was turned into a natural park.

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Other relics found by the owner from the demolition of old hutong buildings to make way for skyscrapers and shopping centers nowadays.

Avalokitesvara statue with eyes decorated by rare legendary luminous pearls (known for its light in the dark).  Since it was next to the ocean, the pearls symbolize the goddess’ great sight to clear the directions in the dark.  Unfortunately, the pearls were eventually stolen.

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Other relics found in demolished hutong.

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archs, beams, and other old building structures.

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Also next to the Confucius Temple is a brothel, very well hidden since you could only tell by reading the horizontal scroll on the top and the couple its sides.

This family must been very well-to-do.

We are at the gate of Confucius temple.

Sculpture of Confucius donated by someone from Hong Kong who had his prayer answered here.

Forest of steles

They are all from hundreds of years ago, but more or less damaged from the Cultural Revolution.

Old stone road

The main temple building.

All trees in the temple are hundreds of years old, with the youngest three hundred years old.  This is the oldest tree here.  It is more than 700 years old.

The temple was guarded by eleven gigantic turtles, each with a gigantic stele on its back.

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The texts were in Tibetan, clearly reflecting the Tibetan influence in the area.

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Other steles were put under a pavilion in between Confucius temple and Imperial Academy.  They contain the lists of some 50k+ successful scholars’ name, year they passed the imperial exam, and where they were from.

Going through this hallway, we landed ourselves in front of the Imperial Academy.

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The gigantic Gate of Honor is the only Gate of Honor memorializing education.

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The main building of the Academy is a huge structure where the emperor used to sit inside and give lectures to everyone who kneed outside.

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Emperor’s seat inside.

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Picture depicting the scene of Emperor’s lecture. The emperor’s words will be delivered by two of his courtiers at the entrance of the building.

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Ceremony memorializing Confucius

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The building was in the center of a pond, and connected by bridges on all four sides.

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Water Lilies and beautiful koi in the pond.

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red, white and even multi-colored koi.

Back of the temple sits a bronze status of a life-size Confucius, donated by someone who has his prayer answered here.

What used to be old class rooms lined up around the center structure. Students in this school are sons of aristocrats and nobles in the society.

Some classrooms where made into museums, like this one displaying works from Students in Central Academy of fine arts.

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Others were made into museums depicting stories of related to Confucius.