China & Inner Asia: Table of Contents
Organizer: Kai-wing Chow, University of Illinois
Chair: Evelyn S. Rawski, University of Pittsburgh
Discussant: E. Bruce Brooks, University of Massachusetts
In the history of Confucian discourse, Confucius has many faces: sage, Uncrowned King, historian, teacher, deity in the Three-in-one religion, or founder of a religion. This panel studies Confucianism from the perspective of symbolic representations of Confucius person and his life in narratives and ritual practice. Would a new figuration of Confucius result in a different interpretation of Confucianism, and vice versa? Did a specific hermeneutical tradition or ritual practice require its own representation of Confucius life? All the papers focus on different and sometimes conflicting figurations of Kongzi in various intellectual, social, and religious contexts. Kai-wing Chows paper raises the issue of Confucius own sense of identity, arguing that Confucius had an identity crisis as a result of his dual cultural background and discrimination in the Lu state. The resolution of the identity crisis significantly shaped his views of humane government and cultural pluralism. Lionel Jansen casts doubt on the historicity of Kongzi. He suggests that Han weishu (apocryphal commentaries) provide an alternative narrative that links Kongzi to a fertility cult. Thomas Wilsons paper explores how Confucius was re-figured as the supreme sage in the state cult and as the progenitor in the ancestral cult of the Kong descendants. These two different conceptions of Kongzi created two divergent liturgies, complicating the interpretation of Confucian orthodoxies. Julia Murrays paper traces the origin and history of a local cultic site associated with Kongzi in the Ming-Qing period. She explores how local elite and imperial patronage transformed the family shrine of a Kong branch into an alternate pilgrimage site in south China.
Kai-wing Chow, University of Illinois
When Confucius was about to die, he had a dream. He found himself sitting in between two pillars. When he woke up, the dream so touched him that he exclaimed: "I am after all a man of Yin!" This anecdote about his sense of identity as a man of Yin, i.e. Shang dynasty, has attracted almost no attention in scholarship on Confucius and his thought. This self-proclaimed identity appeared in Sima Qians biographical chapter of his Shiji. Did Sima project his own sense of identity onto Confucius or did he faithfully record it from stories circulating in the early Han? I argue that the various narratives of Confucius in the Shiji, the Analects, and other Han sources did yield fragments that could be woven into a clearer picture, showing that Confucius sense of identity is a common theme in early narratives of Confucius and Confucianism.
Drawing on recent scholarship in archaeology and Shang-Zhou history, I propose to offer a new narrative of Confucius centering on three issues. First, the tension between the dual cultural and political backgrounds he inherited from his father (descendant of Shang ruling family) and mother (Ji clan in Lu). Second, his experience of discrimination in the state of Lu created an identity crisis. Third, how the eventual resolution of his identity crisis significantly shaped his views of humane government and cultural pluralism.
Lionel M. Jensen, University of Colorado, Denver
Though one of the most salient figures in early Chinese literature, Kongzi remains a figure about whose beginnings we know very little. The present paper explores this paradox through an in-depth examination of the principal narratives of the Kongzi legend from the Shiji and the Kongzi jiayu, paying particular attention to the language of their respective accounts of the birth of the sage. Finding a distinct lack of fit between the form and content of these normative stories from which our received history of Kongzi derives, I propose a narrative alternative of Kongzis beginnings drawn from the early Han weishu (or apocryphal) accounts. The paper suggests that the tales of Kongzi contained in the weishu texts preserve a fuller popular legend of fertility sacrifice by childless parents exactingly coordinated with the winter solstice. Moreover, this same fertility rite can be reconstructed from the very names Kongzi, Kong Qiu, and Zhongni by which the legendary figure was known. The evident implication of this finding is that the historicity of Kongzi is arguable. The name is more like a mythic literary fiction and probably began, as did that of Hou Ji, the primal ancestor of the Zhou dynasty, as a symbolic astral deity that was made historical in one of its many Warring States incarnations, that one transmitted to us exclusively through the normative biographical tradition of the Han.
Julia K. Murray, University of Wisconsin, Madison
This paper will examine the development and meanings of a cultic site known as Kong zhai (Kong Residence) in Qingpu, Songjiang, near Shanghai. Post-Han descendants of Confucius settled in the area, and a Sui descendant purportedly brought his clothing, cap, and jades there for burial. The Kong-family ancestral temple built there gradually developed into a complex that also included a Tomb of Cap and Clothes, an academy, and, by the late Ming period, a hall with narrative pictures of the life of Confucius. Portrait images of Confucius and his four major disciples were also enshrined there, despite the 1530 edict that permitted them only in the Temple of Confucius at Qufu, Shandong. By 1684, the Kong zhais patrons proclaimed the place to be a "Little Queli," which offered almost the same experience as a visit to Confucius hometown in Shandong. The sites importance was confirmed when the Kangxi emperor stopped there on his 1705 Southern Tour and bestowed a name-board in his imperial calligraphy, and its fame was secured by the compilation of the gazetteer Kong zhai zhi shortly thereafter.
By analyzing the Kong zhais construction (literally and rhetorically), I will demonstrate how the development of the site and its varied representations of Confucius relate to the local elites efforts to acquire greater prestige, as well as to the conflicts between the official strictures of the state cult of Confucius, family-based ancestor worship, and the beliefs and practices of popular religion.
Thomas A. Wilson, Hamilton College
The figure of Kongzi was deployed in multiple contexts to produce doctrinal, liturgical, and canonical orthodoxies. Kongzis words were studied, interpreted, and contested by educated men in their quest for the Truth, social status, and political power. Throughout the late imperial era, the figure of Kongzias a sage and as a family ancestorwas used in regular offerings in Kong temples in the moral disciplining of the body through ritual offerings to his spirit. These liturgies prescribed in minute detail the appropriate level of offerings to Kongzis spirit welcomed into the temple, as well as the proper dispositions of the ritualized bodies that offered the sacrifices. The meaning of these rites was contested throughout much of the imperial era, not only by Confucian participants, but also by foreign observers, such as Western missionaries. This paper examines the interplay among conceptions of Kongzi as Supreme Sage in the state cult, as progenitor of the Kong ancestral cult of his descendants, and, in the eyes of Protestant missionary observers in the Nineteenth Century, as the object of adoration who received expiatory offerings.