An ancient expert in etiquette

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 October, 2005, 12:00am

Born during the Spring and Autumn Period, (770BC-476BC) Confucius' teachings, and those of his followers, were in the form of a guide to correct or gentlemanly behaviour, aimed at the ruling elite.

Dying in 479BC, his ideas only found wider acceptance 300 years later during the Han dynasty, when Confucianism was declared a state religion.

Unsurprisingly, his teachings were modified to suit the needs of later leaders, including a strict social hierarchy that stressed the sanctity of the emperor (although Confucius believed bad rulers could be overthrown).

The position of women was codified to being subservient to their fathers and husbands.

Supposedly buried in Qufu , visiting his grave became a pilgrimage for successive emperors, many of whom constructed temples

to him.

In honour of his name, imperial gifts were bestowed on his descendants, over 700,000 of whom are buried in the Confucius cemetery, one of contemporary China's most popular tourist sites.