Although Mao wanted Confucius' shrine to be demolished, his statue smashed to rubble and his influence erased, the Chinese government is now using Confucius as its calling card around the world. Thirteen Confucius Institutes operate in Canada alone, with the stated aim of providing information about Chinese language and culture. Several of my colleagues have mentioned that getting selected to go abroad to work at a Confucius Institute is a much-coveted position.
Above right, one of the dragon pillars of the shrine. Our guide told us that one of the heavy standing stone tablets for the temple area was transported to Qufu at wintertime over roads doused with water to create a sheet of ice. Hunh!! I wonder if that explains Stonehenge. I'd always pictured log rollers or something, but.... ice! This obvious expedient had never occurred to me, to tell the truth.
Ross and I have never been to the cathedrals of Europe, but we imagine that a hushed atmosphere prevails. Here, the mood was festive and bustling and noisy, with lots of cameras clicking and groups posing, including ours. But that's not a judgement, just an observation. Different strokes for different folks. During our visit we spotted only one other foreigner, incidentally. As we descended the main steps, our guide grouped us together for a picture and we noticed that lots of tourists were stopping to take pictures of us, the foreigners, as we posed. In fact we stood there, facing a bank of flashing cell phones, like a couple of very unlikely starlets.
As I came down the steps, I saw an elderly man gesticulating excitedly -- he really wanted to talk with us. He showed me his passport and proudly pointed to the stamp that said he'd been to Thailand. I believe he wanted to let us know that he, too, was an international traveler.
Then it was back out of the complex to the nearby Confucius residence, via a gallery of souvenir stalls. The merchants are friendly but not really aggressive. I bought a cloth satchel for 26 yuan; my companion felt I should I haggled the price down lower but my feeling is that I'm lucky enough to have flown across the Pacific, I'm not going to beat down the price with a woman who hasn't had my opportunities in life over what amounts to a handful of Canadian change.
We were lucky to be touring these sites during the time that everything was covered with spring blossoms. This tree is in the courtyard of the residence.