A quiet refuge in the old city, the Confucian Temple (Wen Miao Temple) in Shanghai is dedicated to worship of Confucius and study of his texts.
History of Confucian Temple
Before this temple was founded, there was a place set aside for Confucian study and worship in the Zitong Clan Temple in Shanghai. When the city attained county status in 1292 (Yuan Dynasty), a new temple dedicated solely to Confucius was constructed. Completed in 1296, the Wen Miao Temple became Shanghai's most important place of learning.
The Confucian Temple was moved to different locations four times before it was reconstructed on its current site in 1855. The temple suffered major damage during the Taiping Rebellion (mid-19th century), during which the element of the Small Swords Society led by Liu Lichuan was headquartered in the Ming Lun Hall of the temple. Further damage was intentionally inflicted by Red Guard soldiers during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76).
Most of the present buildings were reconstructed or restored in 1999 to celebrate the 2,550th birthday of Confucius.
What to See at Confucian Temple
The Shanghai Confucian Temple is located in the southwestern corner of the old Chinese city of Shanghai, on the north side of Wen Miao Road (Wen Miao Lu). The temple complex consists of three parallel paths running south to north. The first (westernmost) path is for public worship and sacrifice; the center path is for scholars and studying; the third path is dominated by nature.
The worshipping path begins at the main entrance gate (Ling Xing) facing the road. The Ling Xing (lit. "Top Scholar Star") gate, made of gray stone and protected by lions, is the traditional entrance to Confucian temples. It takes its name from the gate leading to the Altar of Heaven used by the emperor in ancient China, giving Confucious lofty associations indeed.
Another gate (Da Cheng) leads into a rectangular courtyard, which is flanked by buildings containing souvenir shops and displays of Ming and Qing tablets.
At the far northern end of the courtyard is the main Da Chang Hall, containing a statue of a seated Confucius carved from a camphor tree, flanked by his favorite musical instruments, a drum and bells. The walls are decorated with stone tablets carved with the entire text of the Analects, the collection of Confucius' teachings compiled by his students.
The second path through the complex begins at the south end with the Study (Xue) Gate, through which only scholars who had passed the national examination could traditionally pass. This is followed by the Etiquette (Yi) Gate, which traditionally required proper clothing in order to pass through.
On the north side of the Yi Gate, visitors pass the Listening to Rain Hall on the right, then approach the large Ming Lun Hall in the center of the complex. Originally a lecture hall, this is now used as a museum of root carvings. The study path terminates at the northern end with the Zun Jing Pavilion, originally a library containing volumes of the Confucian Classics. It now houses a museum of Ling Bi stones from Anhui Province.
The path on the east side of the compound does not have its own gate. It begins at the south with the three-story Kui Xing Pagoda, the oldest structure at Wen Miao Temple (1730; restored 1855). An attractive hexagonal structure rising 66 feet (20 m) high, the pagoda is set within a small garden. North of this is a reflecting pool with Ling Bi stones, behind which is Ruxue Shu, a former classroom for Confucian studies that now houses a museum of over 400 teapots.
Festivals and Events
Ceremonies are held here each year on Confucius' birthday, September 28.
Quick Facts on Confucian Temple
|Names:||Confucian Temple · Confucius Temple · Shanghai Confucian Temple · Wenmiao|
|Dates:||1855; rebuilt 1999|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||31.220218° N, 121.483008° E|
|Address:||Wenmiao Lu 215|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Confucian Temple|
- Wenmiao Temple - Asian Historical Architecture
- Frances Wood, Blue Guide China, 2nd ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2001), 270.
- Wen Miao (Confucius Temple) - Frommer's Shanghai
- China Now - "A Walking Tour of Shanghai's Old City" by Lisa Movius
- Shanghai Confucian Temple - Luo Guang Yu Seven Star Mantis Kung Fu
- JFDaily.com - Shanghai's View - Photos and brief English description of Wen Miao
- Photos of Confucian Temple - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Confucian Temple, Shanghai
Below is a location map and aerial view of Confucian Temple. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.