Sunday, July 26, 2009
Ancient Scholars and Ancient Streets
You've all heard of the ancient philosopher Confucius, I'm sure, but probably not of Guozijian. Well, here I am in this ancient 700-year old 'national history and culture street', taking a quiet stroll under the Chinese scholar trees. The main attraction is Guozijian or Imperial Academy, the educational centre of 3 dynasties. Here hopeful scholars used to take civil service exams, one of the world's first such systems, (and one reason why Chinese study so hard, even today?). And it was here that Confucian texts were used to test a candidate's scholarly level. Confucius was such an important person in Chinese culture that a temple, recently renovated, was built next to the Academy so that every day people as well as the emperor could pay tribute to him.
This charming street has various local stores selling a variety of cultural items, and folk crafts. You may also bump into this ancient man symbolizing Longevity that I am embracing in the photo (I'm on the left!).
See this and other fascinating sights on our Beijing Ancient Streets walking tour.