Confucianism and Sacred Space

Confucianism and Sacred Space

The Confucius Temple from Imperial China to Today

Chin-shing Huang


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Temples dedicated to Confucius are found throughout China and across East Asia, dating back over two thousand years. These sacred and magnificent sanctuaries hold deep cultural and political significance.

This book brings together studies from Chin-shing Huang’s decades-long research into Confucius temples that individually and collectively consider Confucianism as religion. Huang uses the Confucius temple to explore Confucianism both as one of China’s “three religions” (with Buddhism and Daoism) and as a cultural phenomenon, from the early imperial era through the present day. He argues for viewing Confucius temples as the holy ground of Confucianism, symbolic sites of sacred space that represent a point of convergence between political and cultural power. Their complex histories shed light on the religious nature and character of Confucianism and its status as official religion in imperial China. Huang examines topics such as the political and intellectual elements of Confucian enshrinement, how Confucius temples were brought into the imperial ritual system from the Tang dynasty onward, and why modern Chinese largely do not think of Confucianism as a religion.

A nuanced analysis of the question of Confucianism as religion, Confucianism and Sacred Space offers keen insights into Confucius temples and their significance in the intertwined intellectual, political, social, and religious histories of imperial China.


Chin-shing Huang:
Chin-shing Huang is distinguished research fellow and vice president of Academia Sinica in Taiwan. His books in English include Philosophy, Philology, and Politics in Eighteenth-Century China: Li Fu and the Lu-Wang School Under the Ch’ing (1995) and Business as a Vocation: The Autobiography of Wu Ho-su (2002).