New Book: Traces of the Sage

James A. Flath, Traces of the Sage: Monument, Materiality, and the First Temple of Confucius, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2016. 

Traces of the Sage is a comprehensive account of the history and material culture of the Temple of Confucius (Kong Temple) in Qufu, Shandong.

Following the temple’s development through time and across space, the book relates architecture to the practice of Confucianism, explains the temple’s phenomenal perseverance, and explores the culture of building in imperial China. Later chapters consider the problem of Confucian heritage conservation and development over the last hundred years — a period when the validity of Confucianism has been called into question– and the challenge of remaking Confucian heritage as a commercial enterprise in the recent past. The study interprets Kong Temple as an active site of transaction and negotiation and argues that meaning does not hide behind architecture but emerges from the circulation and regeneration of its spaces and materials.

Table of Contents

1) Introduction

2) Kong Temple as Structure

3) Ritual as Material Culture

4) Kong Temple as Space

5) Kong Temple and the Modern Politics of Culture

6) Kong Temple Inc.  

7) Epilogue: The Transformative Power of Heritage

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