BEIJING, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- China has erected a bronze statue of Confucius, once reviled under Maoism, near Tiananmen Square in central Beijing.
The statue of the ancient philosopher, at the north gate of the China National Museum, is 31 feet tall, including the stone base. It depicts him with his palms together, looking into the distance, Xinhua reported.
"Confucius was seen as a saint by many dynasties in Chinese history," Lu Zhangshen, curator of the museum, said at the ceremonial unveiling Tuesday. "He is the symbol of traditional Chinese culture, with a far-reaching impact across the globe."
The sculptor is Wu Weishan, 48, president of the Sculpture Institute of the Chinese Academy of Arts.
"In our social transformation period, we needed a cultural monument to pass down our traditional culture, which was represented by Confucius," he said.
Kong Lingshao, a 76th-generation descendant of Confucius, recalled how Red Guards during the 1960s Cultural Revolution pulled down his statues and dragged them through the streets.
"As a descendant, I don't have words to express the humiliation I felt," he said.
By the end of 2010, China had established more than 320 Confucius Institutes in 96 countries.