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Journal of the British Academy - A heavenly aura: Confucian modes of relic veneration

A heavenly aura: Confucian modes of relic veneration Julia K. Murray University of Wisconsin (jmurray@wisc.edu) DOI 10.5871/jba/002.059

• Julia K. Murray

A heavenly aura: Confucian modes of relic veneration 
Julia K. Murray
University of Wisconsin (jmurray@wisc.edu)
DOI 10.5871/jba/002.059

Elsley Zeitlyn Lecture on Chinese Archaeology and Culture | read 22 October 2013

Abstract: Although concepts and practices related to the veneration of relics are usually identified with Buddhism in China, this article will suggest that they are also relevant to Confucius (551-479 BC) and 'Confucianism'. Ideas about the special efficacy of great persons and things associated with them predate Buddhism, which spread from India to China in the 1st century AD. The display of personal items that had once belonged to Confucius and places that figured in his biography powerfully evoked the ancient sage to scholarly pilgrims who visited his home area and temple in Qufu, Shandong. Drawing on Buddhist scholarship for working definitions and typologies, I investigate the material forms of relic-related practices in the Confucian milieu, particularly at Qufu. I also analyse a now-destroyed shrine, near modern Shanghai, in which multiple media were employed to replicate relics of Confucius and bring his beneficent presence to a place he never visited.

Keywords: Confucius, relics, Qufu, Kongzhai, shrine, Confucian Religion Association, Kong lineage

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