Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Report From Ch'üfu

Barbara Demick reports from "a small city in Shandong province 300 miles south of Beijing that has seen its fortunes ebb and flow with the popularity of its most famous son" — Confucius is a hometown hero again. The last ebb:
    Not long ago, it was a disgrace to carry the surname Kong, which indicated one was a descendent of the philosopher better known in the West as Confucius, a man vilified by the staunchest Communists as a throwback to China's feudal past.

    Here in the town where Kong Qiu was born in 551 B.C. and where about 20 percent of the population still bears his surname, corpses were once dug up from their graves at the Kong family's cemetery and hung from trees. More than 6,000 artifacts were smashed or burned.

    "We were crushed by the Cultural Revolution," said Kong Qingying, a 52-year-old calligrapher, who lowers his voice to a dramatic hush when speaking of those dark years four decades ago.
I visited the town they now spell "Qufu" in 1998, simply because it was halfway between Peking and Shanghai. Without quite knowing why at the time, I paid homage before Confucius' Tomb.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.