Han Emperor Gaozu worshipping Confucius: In 195 B.C., while journeying in the state of Lu, the Han Emperor Gaozu became the first emperor to offer sacrifices to Confucius.
The roots of the Confucius Ceremony can be traced back to the Zhou Dynasty. After Confucius died, Aigong of the state of Lu converted Confucius’ residence in Qufu into a temple. Worship at the time was limited to the Confucius Temple in Qufu. In the 13th year of his reign, while visiting the state of Lu, the Han Emperor Gaozu sacrificed a bull to Confucius, thus initiating the tradition of emperors worshipping Confucius. In the state of Cao-Wei (曹魏), during the Three Kingdoms Period, an order was given to create an institution responsible for teaching the emperor how to conduct the Confucius Ceremony, called the “Biyong” (辟雍). In addition to Confucius, sacrifices began to be offered to his disciple Yanhui as well. In the East Jin Dynasty, more Confucius Temples were established, a trend which continued in successive dynasties. Originally family-based, the Confucius Ceremony later became state-administered, as well as systematized and institutionalized.