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In China, prisoners sculpts Confucius

Prisoners in central China's Hubei province have built a sculpture of the famous ancient Chinese philosopher.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2007 14:11 IST

Prisoners in central China's Hubei province have built a sculpture of Confucius, the famous ancient Chinese philosopher, and prison authorities say it can inspire and educate inmates.

The sculpture inside the prison stands five metres high. The work was sculpted by Ma Feihu, 41, a prisoner at Hanjin Prison in Shayang county.

Beginning last November, Ma spent more than two months and used over eight tonnes of mud to build the giant sculpture. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail for grievous bodily harm in 2001.

Ma, who has studied sculpture since he was a child, set up a sculpture workshop with five other prisoners, and the prison provided a computer and books.

"To correct your mistakes people have to go through the bitterness of confession and thorough introspection. Bringing Confucian culture into the prison is a way of educating prisoners," said prison chief Shen Kanglong.

For the last four years the prison has been using Confucian philosophy, together with instruction in law, to educate prisoners.

The wall of the prison is painted with Confucian sayings such as "learning without thinking leads to confusion; thinking without learning ends in danger" and "for every three people I meet along the road, there will be at least one I can learn from."

Confucius's 2,500-year-old ideas of filial piety and respect for education have had an immense impact on Chinese society.

Changchun Beijiao prison in the northeastern province of Jilin has also organised a "Confucian Classroom" and installed closed circuit televisions that beam the ancient sage's thoughts into cells.

Freudian theories of psychoanalysis also play a role in rehabilitation in many Chinese prisons, where inmates are offered counselling and encouraged to express themselves.

At Dongling Prison in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, prisoners are encouraged to talk to counsellors or hit punch bags in a room with padded walls.

After fighting with their demons, the exhausted prisoners are allowed to lie down on a king-sized bed in the psychotherapy room and relax against a backdrop of light music.

First Published: Jan 20, 2007 16:21 IST