It refers to the study of Confucian classics. Classics scholarship is also called “studies of the six arts,” namely, the scholarship on The Book of Songs, The Book of History, The Book of Rites, The Book of Music, The Book of Changes, and The Spring and Autumn Annals, encompassing annotations and exegeses of classics, explication of the principles of classics, and discussions of such subjects as textual inheritance and traditions, as well as the origins of various schools. Classics scholarship is pursued to express one’s fundamental understanding of the order and values of the world through constant exploration of the underlying implications of such classics.
After Liu Bang, Emperor Gaozu of the Han Dynasty, defeated Xiang Yu, he besieged the State of Lu with his army. Confucian scholars in the State of Lu, however, continued with their study, reading aloud, practicing ceremonial rites, playing music, and singing songs. Obviously it is due to the sage’s legacy that learning was so valued in the State of Lu. So all Confucian scholars began to study and practice the classics, learning and practicing for the grand archery competition and ceremonial drinking rites. Shusun Tong formalized the court rituals in the Han Dynasty, and then became the official in charge of performing rites in ancestral temples. All those disciples who participated in setting up the court rituals were put on a priority list for promotion. This led to the flourishing of the study of classics. (The History of the Han Dynasty)