Qufu is one of those places, like Deadwood, or the Klondike, or Salem in Massachusetts, or Haworth in Yorkshire, whose economy is dependent upon the fact that something happened there, or someone lived there, in the past.
While I saw a lot of barrack-y looking workers' housing, I saw no skyscrapers in Qufu. More of the traditional architecture remains than in the Zhangdian district in Zibo, where basically all the old husing has been leveled and replaced with modern plazas.
Our first stop was a series of temples built around and upon the original site where Confucius taught his students back in the day. (The day being around 500 BC).
There are many old trees on the grounds, including the remains of a tree that legend says was planted by Confucius' disciples, in other words, 2,000 years ago, below right.
This is considered to be the first university in China. So parents bring their children here to impress upon them the ancient tradition of scholarship in their country. The kids here are posing in front of an incense burner before the temple.
Below, you can see a large stone tablet which is considered to be a superb example of Chinese calligraphy and is of tremendous cultural importance. Our English-speaking tour guide explained that in 1966, during the Cultural Revolution, thugs from Beijing University came and knocked it down. You can see where the students broke it in half. The guide called them students and they were enrolled at the university, but at this period in China's history, all the schools and universities had ceased to function.
I briefly wondered why the townspeople did not band together to prevent this destruction. I could picture villagers coming from all the neighboring farms, hoes and axes in their sinewy arms, to face down the city kids and show them what's what. But that would have been extraordinarily risky because the order to destroy the monuments came from the highest levels of the government.
According to Jung Chang's biography of Mao, "It was Mao's office... which ordered the desecration of the home of the man whose name was synonymous with Chinese culture,.... The locals had been ordered to wreck it, but had responded by going slow. So Red Guards were dispatched from Peking. In their pledge before setting off, they said that the sage was "the enemy rival of Mao Tse-Tung thought."
Confucius was associated with the old feudal system, the system that, among other things, kept women completely subservient to men. Therefore, the answer was to take a ball peen hammer to his temple, not merely wield a pen (or calligraphy brush), as is suggested in this propaganda poster.
Our guide lived in Qufu as a young boy during the Cultural Revolution and he recalled seeing these twin stone statutes lying smashed on the ground. No-one dared repair the damage until after Mao's death. The statues have since been re-assembled but the noses and ears are missing.
Next Qufu post.... paying homage to the sage, a stroll through the Confucius family home and the final resting place of thousands of members of the Confucius clan.