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This monument by Liu Shih depicts Confucius (c. 551 BC – 479 BC), the pre-eminent Chinese philosopher whose works and teachings influenced centuries of social and cultural beliefs worldwide. It is located in the heart of Chinatown in front of Confucius Plaza, a combined apartment and public school complex.
Although a renowned figure, not much is known about Confucius’ origins. Later in life he served for a short time in several government positions before turning his attention to orating and teaching. His most celebrated thoughts promoting ethical living, personal decorum, and filial piety were written in The Analects. His works influenced Chinese traditions and beliefs for centuries and were even standard texts required for government examinations.
Erected in 1976, the over-life-size bronze by Taiwanese sculptor Shih, was sponsored by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New York City on behalf of the Chinese community, and given to the City in honor of the bicentennial celebration of the United States. In honor of the anniversary of Confucius’ birthday in 1983, the monument’s pedestal was upgraded with new natural eastern Taiwan marble panels designed by Tieh Chi Ho. Inscribed on the front panel is a passage from Confucius’ writings of the Great Harmony (Ta Tung) which promotes peace in the world, social order, and natural accord.
In 2000 the monument was conserved by the City of New York, and continues to serve as an inspiration and important meeting place for the local community.
- Location: Traffic island at the intersection of the Bowery and Division Street
- Sculptor: Liu Shih
- Architect: W.S. Chen (original pedestal); Tieh Chi Ho (renovated pedestal)
- Description: Standing figure (heroic scale) with integral plinth on pedestal; terrace surrounded by sixteen bollards connected by swag chains
- Materials: Figure--bronze; pedestal--concrete faced with variegated green Eastern Taiwan marble; terrace and bollards--variegated Eastern Taiwan green marble
- Dimensions: figure h 8' x diameter 3'8"; plinth h 6½"; pedestal h 8' x w 10' x d 10'; total h 16' (approximate)
- Cast: 1976
- Dedicated: 1976
- Foundry: Industrial foundry in Hong Kong (?)
- Donor: Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New York City; government of the Republic of China (?)
- Inscription: 1) integral plinth: "[foundry mark in Chinese]"
2a) pedestal, east side: "CONFUCIUS / [name in Chinese] /---/ [eighteen-column Chinese inscription, followed by a red seal] /---/ THE CHAPTER OF GREAT HARMONY (TA TUNG) / BY CONFUCIUS (551-479 B C) /---/ WHEN THE GREAT PRINCIPLE PREVAILS THE WORLD IS A COMMON- / WEALTH IN WHICH RULERS ARE SELECTED ACCORDING TO THEIR WIS- / DOM AND ABILITY. MUTUAL CONFIDENCE IS PROMOTED AND GOOD / NEIGHBORLINESS CULTIVATED. HENCE, MEN DO NOT REGARD AS PA- / RENTS ONLY THEIR OWN PARENTS NOR DO THEY TREAT AS CHILDREN / ONLY THEIR OWN CHILDREN. PROVISION IS SECURED FOR THE AGED / TIL DEATH, EMPLOYMENT FOR THE ABLE BODIED AND THE MEANS OF / GROWING UP FOR THE YOUNG. / HELPLESS WIDOWS AND WIDOWERS, / ORPHANS AND THE LONELY, AS WELL AS THE SICK AND THE DISABLED, / ARE WELL CARED FOR. MEN HAVE THEIR RESPECTIVE OCCUPATIONS / AND WOMEN THEIR HOMES. THEY DO NOT LIKE TO SEE WEALTH LYING / IDLE, YET THEY DO NOT KEEP IT FOR THEIR OWN GRATIFICATION / THEY DESPISE INDOLENCE, YET THEY DO NOT USE THEIR ENERGIES / FOR THEIR OWN BENEFIT. IN THIS WAY, SELFISH SCHEMINGS ARE REPRESSED, AND ROBBERS, THIEVES AND OTHER LAWLESS MEN NO / LONGER EXIST AND THERE IS NO NEED FOR PEOPLE TO SHUT THEIR OUTER DOORS. THIS IS THE GREAT HARMONY (TA TUNG)."
2b) pedestal, west side: "[one-column Chinese inscription] /---/ THE WORLD IS A COMMONWEALTH"
2c) pedestal, south side: "[one-line horizontal Chinese inscription] /---/ [twelve-column Chinese inscription] /---/ [one-line horizontal Chinese inscription] /---/ SEPTEMBER 1983"
2d) pedestal, north side: "[four-line Chinese inscription] /---/ PRESENTED TO / THE CITY OF NEW YORK /---/ BY /---/ THE CHINESE CONSOLIDATED BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION N.Y.C. / ON BEHALF OF THE CHINESE COMMUNITY / IN COMMEMORATION OF / THE BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION / OF / THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA /---/ 1776-1976"