Confucius (known in China as "Kong Zi") (551-479 BC) was a native of Zouyi (southeast of presentday Qufu, Shandong Province) in Lu State in the Spring and Autumn Period, with the full name of Kong Qiu. His father, a low-ranking military officer, had died when Confucius was only three. His mother moved with him to Qufu, where he grew up. It was said that, even as a child Confucius had been keen to learn the ancient rituals. Whenever he was free, he would conduct pretend sacrificial rites using small pans and dishes.
Confucius when young was a hardworking student. He particularly revered Zhougong, who devised ancient rituals and composed music in the early days of the Zhou Dynasty. At that time, a scholar was expected to master six types of skills: rituals, music, archery, chariot driving, writing and arithmetic. Confucius possessed a superior command of all of them.
Confucius was modest and liked learning new things. He was also skilled at handling administrative affairs. He once worked in a government storehouse. A good bookkeeper, he helped ensure an efficient, adequate supply of goods. Later, he worked as a minor official in charge of animal husbandry. Throughout his tenure, the number of cattle and sheep in the state continued rising dramatically, and all the animals were healthy and strong. Confucius thus had earned a fine reputation before he reached age 30.
Confucius started his political career at the age of 35. When Duke Zhaogong of Lu was ousted by three powerful ministers, with the family names of Jisun, Mengsun and Shusun, Confucius turned to the Qi State. When he met Duke Jinggong of Qi, he shared with him his political visiori. Jinggong treated him well and considered appointing him to a high position, when Yan Ying, Prime Minster of Qi, told the duke that Confucius' ideas were disconnected from reality. As a result, Jinggong changed his mind and refused to grant him any official post.