Following the end of Imperial China in 1912, Confucianism faced a period of deritualization by the Republican government and suppression by the Communist government that tried to minimize its religious dimensions. During this period, Confucianism became tied to traditional Chinese values and history. This connection between Confucianism and Chinese identity became the basis of the post-Civil War (1927-1950) revival of Confucian temples in both Qufu, Shandong Prov., PRC and Taipei, Taiwan, ROC. The Qufu and Taipei temple revivals were carried out by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC), respectively. While both governments sought the same goal of claiming possession of traditional Chinese identity, their approach to their temple revival differed in methodology.
The Post-Civil War Revival of Confucianism
The post-Maoist era saw the reemergence of Confucianism on both a state and a popular level. After decades of domestic suppression and deritualziation, Confucian ritual spaces had been transformed and repurposed into bureaucratic buildings and heritage sites. In the Western world, Confucianism had been thought to be nothing more than a philosophical education system. This reduction of Confucianism ignored the religious dimension of Confucianism by subordinating the rich history of the Imperial Cult to the intellectual scrutiny of modernity. While Confucian worship still existed within parts of Chinese society, the days of the Imperial Cult were long gone. This new reemergence of Confucianism was not the return of the Imperial Cults, but instead a part of what Sebastien Billioud claims as, “the ongoing reappropriation of fragments of traditional culture.” Under this project of reappropriation, the reemergence of Confucianism is marked by new rituals and practices that did not exist in continuity with any text or practices. These new practices are instead an attempt to promote tourism and legitimize the political claim to Chinese history.