Since his death in 473BC, Confucius’ influence has waxed and waned, but he has never been more ubiquitous and venerated as he is today – not only in China but all around the world as well. His is also a story Royal Selangor seeks to tell with its new Celestial Wisdom collection. Featuring pewter figurines of Confucius and five of his disciples, it is based on 40-year-old bronze sculptures by Chiang Yi-Tze, a Taiwan-based artist who withdrew from the art world in the late 1960s to better his art in private.
The collection was three and a half years in the making, beginning when Yong Yoon Li, executive director of Royal Selangor International, first met Chiang. It was also a voyage of discovery for Yong: “For us Chinese living two, three or four generations away from China, Confucius was just a name. We’d heard about him and his teachings – based on filial piety, humaneness, and ritual – but we didn’t know the ‘why’. So I began to learn about Confucius and realised that, at its essence, Confucianism is about being a good person.”
While the figurines come with a booklet explaining who they are and how they embody Confucianism, Yong sees an innate understanding of the philosophy in all of us, whether we realise it or not. “We know all about things like filial piety and respecting your family, things that we are taught by our parents. That’s Confucianism.
“I think it is even more relevant now than ever before, especially in this day and age when people are putting up borders and against globalisation. Celestial Wisdom is about reconnecting with your neighbours, your friends, society and community rather than putting up walls.”
SIX OF THE BEST
Confucius is joined by his most devoted disciples in Royal Selangor’s Celestial Wisdom collection.
01 CONFUCIUS was an early proponent of equality, proposing that anyone with the right education could become a great person.
02 YANHUI was the brightest and most senior of Confucius’ disciples.
03 MINSUN, one of Confucius’ favourite students, was known for his love of family.
04 RANYONG was highly regarded by Confucius, who considered him fit to rule a state because of his excellent moral conduct.
05 DUANMU CI’S intellectual acuity and eloquence allowed him to take on multiple roles as a diplomat, high official and successful businessman.
06 ZHONGYOU’S martial skills and education enabled him to serve as a state official.
TEXT CHRISTY YOONG