“However, the republican form of the state, either nationalist or communist, always seemed incompatible with such reference to cosmic legitimacy.”

Sebastien Billioud, The Sage and the People, page 260-261

Authenticity

Before comparing the two revivals it is important to address standard authenticity, to judge whether or not a practice is properly Confucian, when examining ritual practices. The problem with the standard of authenticity is that it ascribes an essentialist position to Confucianism. All ritual practices are legitimate when performed by people through their interpretations. As Anna Sun states in her book Confucianism As A World Religion, “If a prayer is offered to Confucius in a temple devoted to Confucius, regardless of whether the prayer takes the form of either traditional incense burning or a prayer written on a newly invented prayer card…it [is] a Confucian prayer.” Confucianism is a dynamic religion with a rich history of negotiations about its various beliefs and practices that continues to this day. However, the idea of authenticity can be used as a standard of judgment within these political revivals because they are on some level striving for a traditional Confucianism. These government revivals use the language of recreation, citing the imperial cult as the point of reference being recreated. Thus, the standard of authenticity is used to judge the accuracy of their revival.

Comparison

Both government-sponsored revivals were politically motivated to connect the ruling regime to a larger Chinese identity. However, the two temples approach the revival from different angles. Whereas Qufu adopted and introduced new practices and an international outlook to their temple, Taipei recreated the traditional ceremonies of the Han-dynasty. A core issue for both revivals is the place of the Imperial Cult, which is linked to the ritual history of Confucianism, in their respective revivals. The ideas from the Imperial Cult are incompatible with both the PRC’s and the ROC’s agendas. The Imperial Cult’s focus on cosmology and the Mandate of Heaven clashed with both government’s modern regime that often label these ideas as superstitions. In order to mediate this contradiction, the PRC established a state cult to connect Confucianism directly with Chinese identity rather than the Imperial Cult. The ROC focused on the idea of authenticity but selectively chose what would be included to mediate any cosmological inconsistencies.