The Vinegar Tasters | Allegorical composition depicts: Confucianism, Buddhism, & Taoism. One interpretation suggests that: 3 men are dipping their fingers in a vat of vinegar & tasting it; Confucius reacts with a sour expression, Buddha reacts with a bitter expression, and Laozi reacts with a sweet expression. Yet, another interpretation of the painting is that, since the three men are gathered around one vat of vinegar, the "three teachings" are one.
Confucius (551—479 BCE) Better known in China as “Master Kong” (Chinese: Kongzi), Confucius was a fifth-century BCE Chinese thinker whose influence upon East Asian intellectual and social history is immeasurable. As a culturally symbolic figure, he has been alternately idealized, deified, dismissed, vilified, and rehabilitated over the millennia by both Asian and non-Asian thinkers and regimes. Links to Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy which has a lot of info pertaining to Confucius.