This large depiction of Confucius (Kung Fu-tzu
), one of the great cultural heroes of Chinese history, was most likely used in a temple or at an altar dedicated to his system of thought.
Confucius was born at Ch'u-fu (Shantung Province), their capital of the state of Lu in 551 B.C. After spending much of his life travelling from state to state seeking a ruler who would adopt his principles of government, he returned to Ch'u-fu and spent many years teaching disciples until his death in 479 B.C. A great political and social thinker, his ideas, writings and moral precepts were codified and provided a basis for Chinese societal and government organization for over 2000 years. Confucian temples used to be found throughout China and the official worship of the great sage was carried out on the spring and autumn equinoxes. Many surviving portraits of Confucius are stereotypical representations similar to this one. They feature a bearded Confucius with clasped hands and a placid expression, attired in formal court robes.