Rituals and Worship

Sacrifices to Kongzi and other Confucian saints were only part of a nationwide ritual system, at the pinnacle of which was the worship of Tian (Heaven) carried out by the Chinese emperor (who traditionally called himself Tianzi, "son of Heaven"). During the Ming and Qing dynasties, imperial sacrifices to Tian for the sake of assuring good harvests were performed at the Tiantan (Altar of Heaven) in southeastern Beijing, which is quite possibly the most dramatic Confucian sacred space in China apart from the Confucian temple in Qufu. Originally constructed in the 15th century by the Ming emperors, it later became the site of the former Qing dynasty general Yuan Shikai's dramatic attempt to claim imperial power by worshipping Tian in a Ming dynasty-style ritual there.


Study Questions:
    1.    What private spaces are most sacred to Confucians?
    2.    What public spaces are most sacred to Confucians?
    3.    What might one encounter in a Confucian temple?

Back to Religion Library