School enrollment with Confucius

Old traditions are still alive

(Hier gibt es den deutschen Text.)

I am still on my round trip in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan. Today’s agenda starts early in the morning with a visit to the second biggest Confucian Temple in China. It is situated in the small city of Jianshui in the fertile and in summer very hot province of Yunnan.

Konfuzius Tempel
Konfuzius Tempel

It is Sunday and already many people are gathering in front of the temple for the “grandpa and grandma dance” or for Thai Chi. Different dancing groups try to be the loudest, the quiet and calm music of the Thai Chi group nearly vanishes in all that noise.


Right behind the entrance to the temple district the loud music is gone and we are surrounded by silence and the captivating smell of frangipani blossoms. A small group is practicing Thai Chi here as well.

We walk on to the big pond, nearly completely covered with lotus. Many of these water plants bloom pink.


In the shadow of ancient trees Mr. Li, our local guide in this region, explains a bit about the Confucian doctrine.

The first temple in honor of Confucius at this place was built 1285 AD. The temple of today is about 150 years old, but built in the old way. Beautiful colored ornaments decorate the roofs of the different buildings. Everywhere is relaxing Chinese music to be heard.P1120927

As we go nearer to the main temple building, some traditional costumed people walk our way. They carry all kinds of partially ancient music instruments. Mr. Li finds out that in a couple of minutes a traditional school enrollment ceremony for children of the more well of is going to start.

H decides to change our schedule slightly so that we can take part at the ceremony. Neither Mr. Li nor our guide Ye Min, who stays with us during the whole trip, has ever seen such an enrollment. They are as curious as we are.P1120959

We are very lucky that only few people are in the temple. So we got a good look.

The procession starts with a kind of master of ceremonies who carries a microphone. He is followed by the musicians who sit down in front of the temple.P1120967

Now the kids follow. Each of them is dressed in a traditional dress. All of them bang the drum once and then go to their assigned little escritoire that is equipped with a brush, India ink and a piece of paper. Behind them follow some adults, also dressed traditionally. They might be one parent or a kind of mentor.P1120966

The master of ceremonies reads something with a commanding voice, then he and a female aid come down to the kids. Each of them gets a red dot on the forehead. Now the mentors stand behind the kids and help them to write their first Chinese character. It means “to be human”. It is a very important character because for Confucius altruism was very important.P1120987

After that the kids get a big red stamp on their piece of paper and the musicians start to play again. When the music stops, the master of ceremonies calls the children one by one to him. They bow in front of him and all of them get a book.

Here the event finishes. Here you´ll find a short video.P1130001

What an amazing beginning for their schooldays! This kind of school enrollment is very rare and only in very few temples it is practiced.

That makes this event even more special for us and we are happy to participate.

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