Mysteries of Kongzhai: Relic, Representation, and Ritual at a Southern Shrine to Confucius


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art History, East Asian Studies, and Religious Studies

Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


This project exlpores the art and history of Kongzhai, a once-important but now-destroyed and forgotten shrine to Confucius near Shanghai, where a 34th-generation descendant allegedly buried the master’s clothing in 606 CE, far from his ancient home in Shandong. Based on extensive primary-source research, the site’s evolution is traced from the late twelfth through mid-twentieth centuries in social, political, ritual, and cultural contexts. At its height in the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries, Kongzhai's multimedia representations of Confucius (relics, sculptural icons, painted or incised portraits, pictorial biographies, and various kinds of texts) functioned as significant instruments of Confucian religious expression, which have counterparts in Buddhism, Daoism, and popular-deity cults.