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China Unveils Standard Portrait of Confucius
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The China Confucius Foundation (CCF) on Saturday unveiled a standard portrait of ancient philosopher and educator Confucius in order to give him a single, recognizable identity around the world.


The event was part of the commemoration marking the 2,557th anniversary of his birth.


The CCF unveiled the final version of the portrait at a news conference in Qufu of east China's Shandong Province, hometown of Confucius, on the basis of a draft sculpture released in June this year.




"Acting as a symbol of Chinese history and culture, Confucius is widely known around the world. A standard portrait is needed so that different countries could have the same image of him," said CCF general secretary Zhang Shuhua.


The sculpture depicts Confucius as an old man with a long beard, broad mouth and big ears. He wears a robe and crosses his hands on his chest.


The amended portrait highlights the ancient philosopher's kindness in appearance as well as his cultured and gentle characteristics, said professor Hu Xijia, a member of the sculpture design group.


"We want to show a Confucius that exists in people's minds, who is a kind, sagacious and respectful person," said Hu, who started the work in January.


The draft sculpture was based on the painting of Confucius by Wu Daozi of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), together with advice from Confucian scholars, historians, artists and his descendants.


The new portrait would set the standard criteria for the image of Confucius, who had been represented in different ways when Chinese were presenting statues in foreign countries, said Zhang.


Confucius was the founder of Confucianism, which advocates the building of a harmonious society through an individual's self-refinement in manners and taste. It was promulgated by Chinese rulers since the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 25 AD) and spread into east and south Asia.


Confucianism dominated Chinese society for centuries, and spread to Europe in the late 16th century.


Born in 551 B.C., Confucius, a great thinker, philosopher, statesman and educator, has more than 3 million descendants with Qufu as a concentration area, according to latest statistics.


There are 2.5 million descendants of Confucius in the Chinese mainland, 100,000 in the Republic of Korea, and many in the United States, Malaysia and Singapore.


Regarding Confucius as an outstanding educator, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last year named an international prize after him -- Confucius Literacy Prize, to honor individuals and institutions which have made significant contributions to education.


On Saturday, the UNESCO awarded the prize in Qufu, the first of its kind, to educational officials of India and Morocco to honor their decade-long efforts in eradicating illiteracy, especially among women and children, and helping drop-out children return to school.


In an effort to promote Chinese language and culture abroad, China has planned to set up 100 "Confucius Institutes" around the world to help foreigners learn Chinese.


Scholars and believers around the world commemorate Confucius' birth at his hometown in Qufu every year to carry forward the Confucian spirit of benevolence and honor.


Many scholars say that the research on the values of Confucianism are conducive to the building of a harmonious society in China and around the world.


(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2006)

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