When a thing is carried with both hands, it should be held on a level with the heart; when with one hand, on a level with the girdle. An article belonging to the son of Heaven should be held higher than the heart; one belonging to a ruler of a state, on a level with it; one belonging to a Great officer, lower than it; and one belonging to an (inferior) officer should be carried lower still.
When one is holding an article belonging to his lord, though it may be light, he should seem unable to sustain it. In the case of a piece of silk, or a rank-symbol of jade, square or round, he should keep his left hand over it. He should not lift his feet in walking, but trail his heels like the wheels of a carriage.
(A minister) should stand (with his back) curved in the manner of a sounding-stone, and his girdle-pendants hanging down. Where his lord has his pendants hanging at his side, his should be hanging down in front; where his lord has them hanging in front, his should descend to the ground. When one is holding any symbol of jade (to present it), if it be on a mat, he leaves it so exposed; if there be no mat, he covers it with (the sleeve of) his outer robe.
The ruler of a state should not call by their names his highest ministers, nor the two noble ladies of her surname, who accompanied his wife to the harem. A Great officer should not call in that way an officer who had been employed by his father, nor the niece and younger sister of his wife (members of his harem). (Another) officer should not call by name the steward of his family, nor his principal concubine. The son of a Great officer (of the king, himself equal to) a ruler, should not presume to speak of himself as 'I, the little son. The son of a Great officer or (other) officer (of a state) should not presume to speak of himself as 'I, the inheriting son, so-and-so.' They should not so presume to speak of themselves as their heir-sons do.
When his ruler wishes an officer to take a place at an archery (meeting), and he is unable to do so, he should decline on the ground of being, ill, and say, 'I, so-and-so, am suffering from carrying firewood.'
When one, in attendance on a superior man, replies to a question without looking round to see (if any other be going to answer), this is contrary to rule.
A superior man, in his practice of ceremonies (in another state), should not seek to change his (old) customs. His ceremonies in sacrifice, his dress during the period of mourning, and his positions in the wailing and weeping, will all be according to the fashions of-his former (state). He will carefully study its rules, and carry them exactly into practice. (But) if he (or his descendants) have been away from the state for three generations, and if his dignity and emoluments be (still) reckoned to him (or his representative) at the court, and his outgoings and incomings are announced to the state, and if his brothers or cousins and other members of his house be still there, he should (continue to) send back word about himself to the representative of his ancestor. (Even) after the three generations, if his dignity and emoluments be not reckoned to him in the court, and his outgoings and incomings are (no longer) announced in the state, it is only on the day of his elevation (to official rank) that he should follow the ways of his new state.
A superior man, when left an orphan, will not change his name. Nor will he in such a case, if he suddenly become noble, frame an honorary title for his father. When occupied with the duties of mourning and before the interment of (a parent), (a son) should study the ceremonies of mourning, and after the interment, those of sacrifice. When the mourning is over, let him resume his usual ways, and study the pieces of music. When occupied with the duties of mourning, one should not speak of music. When sacrificing, one should not speak of what is inauspicious. In the ruler's court, parties should not speak of wives and daughters.
For one to have to dust his (collection of) written tablets, or adjust them before the ruler, is a punishable offence; to have the divining stalks turned upside down or the tortoiseshell turned on one side, before him, is also a punishable offence. One should not enter the ruler's gate, (carrying with him) a tortoise-shell or divining stalks, a stool or a staff, mats or (sun-)shades, or having his upper and lower garments both of white or in a single robe of fine or coarse hempen cloth. Nor should he do so in rush sandals, or with the skirts of his lower garment tucked in at his waist, or in the cap worn in the shorter periods of mourning. Nor, unless announcement of it has been made (and permission given), can one take in the square tablets with the written (lists of articles for a funeral), or the frayed sackcloth, or the coffin and its furniture. Public affairs should not be privately discussed.
When a superior man, (high in rank), is about to engage in building, the ancestral temple should have his first attention, the stables and arsenal the next, and the residences the last. In all preparations of things by (the head of) a clan, the vessels of sacrifice should have the first place; the victims supplied from his revenue, the next; and the vessels for use at meals, the last. Those who have no revenue from lands do not provide vessels for sacrifice. Those who have such revenue first prepare their sacrificial dresses. A superior man,. though poor, will not sell his vessels of sacrifice; though suffering from cold, he will not wear his sacrificial robes; in building a house, he will not cut down the trees on his grave-mounds.
A Great or other officer, leaving his state, should not take his vessels of sacrifice with him across the boundary. The former will leave his vessels for the time with another Great officer, and the latter his with another officer. A Great or other officer, leaving his state, on crossing the boundary, should prepare a place for an altar, and wail there, looking in the direction of the state. He should wear his upper garment and lower, and his cap, all of white; remove his (ornamental) collar, wear shoes of untanned leather, have a covering of white (dog's-fur) for his cross-board, and leave his horses manes undressed. He should not trim his nails or beard, nor make an offering at his (spare) meals. He should not say to any one that he is not chargeable with guilt, nor have any of his women approach him. After three months he will return to his usual dress.
When a Great or other officer has an interview with the ruler of the state (to whom he has been sent), if the ruler be condoling with him on the toils of his journey, he should withdraw on one side to avoid (the honour), and then bow twice with his head to the ground. If the ruler meet him (outside the gate) and bow to him, he should withdraw on one side to avoid (the honour), and not presume to return the bow. When Great or other officers are having interviews with one another, though they may not be equal in rank, if the host reverence (the greater worth of) the guest, he should first bow to him; and if the guest reverence the (greater worth of the) host, he should first bow. In all cases but visits of condolence on occasion of a death, and seeing the ruler of one's state, the parties should be sure to return the bow, each of the other.
When a Great officer has an interview with the ruler of (another) state, the ruler should bow in acknowledgment of the honour (of the message he brings); when an officer has an interview with a Great officer (of that state), the latter should bow to him in the same way. When two meet for the first time in their own state, (on the return of one from some mission), the other, as host, should bow in acknowledgment (of the service). A ruler does not bow to a (simple) officer; but if it be one of a different state, he should bow to his bow. A Great officer should return the bow of any one of his officers, however mean may be his rank. Males and females do (? not) bow to one another.
The ruler of a state, in the spring hunting, will not surround a marshy thicket, nor will Great officers try to surprise a whole herd, nor will (other) officers take young animals or eggs.
In bad years, when the grain of the season is not coming to maturity, the ruler at his meals will not make the (usual) offering of the lungs, nor will his horses be fed on grain. His special road will not be kept clean and swept, nor when at sacrifices will his musical instruments be suspended on their stands. Great officers will not eat the large grained millet; and (other) officers will not have music (even) at their drinking.
Without some (sad) cause, a ruler will not let the gems (pendent from his girdle) leave his person, nor a Great officer remove his music-stand, nor an (inferior) officer his lutes.
When an officer presents anything to the ruler of his state, and another day the ruler asks him, 'Where did you get that?' he will bow twice with his head to the ground, and afterwards reply.
When a Great officer wishes to go beyond the boundaries (of the state) on private business, he must ask leave, and on his return must present some offering. An (inferior) officer in similar circumstances, must (also) ask leave, and when he comes back, must announce his return. If the ruler condole with them on their toils, they should bow. if he ask about their journey, they should bow, and afterwards reply. When the ruler of a state (is proposing to) leave it, they should (try to) stop him, saying, 'Why are you leaving the altars of the spirits of the land and grain?' (In the similar case of) a Great officer they should say, 'Why are you leaving your ancestral temple?' In that of an (inferior) officer, they should say, 'Why are you leaving the graves (of your ancestors)?' A ruler should die for his altars; a Great officer, with the host (he commands); an inferior officer, for his charge.
As ruling over all, under the sky, (the king) is called 'The son of Heaven.' As receiving at court the feudal princes, assigning (to all) their different offices, giving out (the laws and ordinances of) the government, and employing the services of the able, he styles himself, 'I, the one man.' When he ascends by the eastern steps, and presides at a sacrifice, if it be personal to himself and his family, his style is, 'I, so-and-so, the filial king;' if it be external to himself, 'I, so-and-so, the inheriting king.' When he visits the feudal princes, and sends to make announcement (of his presence) to the spirits (of their hills and streams), it is said, 'Here is he, so-and-so, who is king by (the grace of) Heaven.' His death is announced in the words, 'The king by (the grace of) Heaven has fallen.' In calling back (his spirit), they say, 'Return, O son of Heaven.' When announcement is made (to all the states) of the mourning for him, it is said, 'The king by (the grace of) Heaven has gone far on high.' When his place is given to him in the ancestral temple, and his spirit-tablet is set up, he is styled on it, 'the god.' The son of Heaven, while he has not left off his mourning, calls himself, 'I, the little child.' While alive, he is so styled; and if he die (during that time), he continues to be so designated.
The son of Heaven has his queen, his helpmates, his women of family, and his ladies of honour. (These) constituted his wife and concubines.
The son of Heaven appoints the officers of Heaven's institution, the precedence among them belonging to the six grandees: the Grand-governor; the Grand-minister of the ancestral temple; the Grand-historiographer; the Grand-minister of prayers; the Grand-minister of justice; and the Grand-divine. These are the guardians and superintendents of the six departments of the statutes.
The five (administrative) officers of the son of Heaven are: the minister of instruction; the minister of war; the minister of works; the minister of offices; and the minister of crime. These preside over the multitude in (each of) their five charges.
The six treasuries of the son of Heaven are under the charge of the superintendent of the land; the superintendent of the woods; the superintendent of the waters; the superintendent of the grass; the superintendent of articles of employment; and the superintendent of wares. These preside over the six departments of their charges.
The six manufactures of the son of Heaven are under the care of (the superintendents of) the workers in earth; the workers in metal; the workers in stone; the workers in wood; the workers in (the skins of) animals; and the workers in twigs. These preside over the six departments of stores. When the five officers give in their contributions, they are said to 'present their offerings.'
Chief among the five officers are the presidents, to whom belong the oversight of quarters (of the kingdom). In any message from them transmitted to the son of Heaven, they are styled 'ministers of the son of Heaven.' If they are of the same surname as he, he styles them 'paternal uncles;' if of a different surname, 'maternal uncles.' To the feudal princes, they designate themselves, 'the ancients of the son of Heaven.' Outside (their own states), they are styled 'duke;' in their states, 'ruler.'
The head prince in each of the nine provinces, on entering the state of the son of Heaven, is styled 'pastor.' If he be of the same surname as himself, the son of Heaven calls him 'my paternal uncle;' if he be of a different surname, 'my maternal uncle.' Outside (his own state) he is called 'marquis'; in it, 'ruler,' The (chiefs) among (the wild tribes of) the Yi on the east, the Di on the north, the Rong on the west, and the Man on the south, however great (their territories), are called 'counts.' In his own territories each one calls himself. 'the unworthy one;' outside them, 'the king's ancient.' Any of the princelets of their various tracts, on entering the state of the son of Heaven, is styled, 'Such and such a person.' Outside it he is called 'count,' and calls himself 'the solitary.'
When the son of Heaven stands with his back to the screen with axe-head figures on it, and the princes present themselves before him with their faces to the north, this is called kin (the autumnal audience). When he stands at the (usual) point (of reception) between the door and the screen, and the dukes have their faces towards the east, and the feudal princes theirs towards the west, this is called Chao (the spring audience).
When feudal princes see one another at a place and time not agreed on beforehand, the interview is called 'a meeting.' When they do so in some open place agreed on beforehand, it is called 'an assembly.' When one prince sends a great officer to ask about another, it is called 'a message of friendly inquiry.' When there is a binding to mutual faith, it is called 'a solemn declaration.' When they use a victim, it is called 'a covenant.'
When a feudal prince is about to be introduced to the son of Heaven, he is announced as 'your subject so-and-so, prince of such-and-such a state.' He speaks of himself to the people as 'the man of little virtue.' If he be in mourning (for his father), he is styled 'the rightful eldest son, an orphan;' if he be taking part at a sacrifice in his ancestral temple, 'the filial son, the prince of such-and-such a state, the prince so-and-so.' If it be another sacrifice elsewhere, the style is, 'so-and-so, prince of such-and-such a state, the distant descendant.' His death is described by the character hong (disappeared). In calling back (his spirit), they say, 'Return, sir so-and-so.' When he has been interred and (his son) is presented to the son of Heaven, the interview, (though special), is said to be 'of the same kind as the usual interviews.' The honorary title given to him is (also) said to be 'after the usual fashion.' When one prince sends a message to another, the messenger speaks of himself as 'the ancient of my poor ruler.'
The demeanour of the son of Heaven should be characterised by majesty; of the princes, by gravity; of the Great officers, by a regulated composure; of (inferior) officers, by an easy alertness; and of the common people, by simplicity and humility.
The partner of the son of Heaven is called 'the queen;' of a feudal prince, 'the helpmate;' of a Great officer, 'the attendant;' of an (inferior) officer, 'the serving woman;' and of a common man ' 'the mate.'
A duke and (one of) the feudal princes had their helpmate, and their honourable women, (which) were their mates and concubines. The helpmate called herself, before the son of Heaven, 'the aged servant;' and before the prince (of another state), 'the small and unworthy ruler.' To her own ruler she called herself 'the small maid.' From the honourable women downwards (each member of the harem) called herself 'your handmaid.' To their parents, sons and daughters called themselves by their names.
A Great officer any of the states, entering the state of the son Heaven, was called 'the officer of such-and-such state)' and styled himself 'your subsidiary minister.' Outside (his own state), he was called 'sir;' and in that state, 'the ancient of our poor ruler.' A messenger (to any state) called himself 'so-and-so.'
The son of Heaven should not be spoken of as 'going out (of his state).' A feudal prince should not be called by his name, while alive. (When either of these things is done), it is because the superior man will not show regard for wickedness. A prince who loses his territory is named, and also one who extinguishes (another state ruled by) lords of the same surname as himself.
According to the rules of propriety for a minister, he should not remonstrate with his ruler openly. If he have thrice remonstrated and is still not listened to, he should leave (his service). In the service of his parents by a son, if he have thrice remonstrated and is still not listened to, he should follow (his remonstrance) with loud crying and tears.
When a ruler is ill, and has to drink medicine, the minister first tastes it. When a parent is ill, and has to drink medicine, the son first tastes it. The physic of a doctor in whose family medicine has not been practised for three generations at least, should not be taken.
In comparing (different) men, we can only do so when their (circumstances and conditions) are of the same class.
When one asks about the years of the son of Heaven, the reply should be: 'I have heard that he has begun to wear a robe so many feet long.' When one asks about the years of the ruler of a state, if he be grown up, the reply should be: 'He is able to attend to the services in the ancestral temple, and at the altars of the spirits of the land and grain'; and if he be still young, 'He is not yet able to attend to the services in the ancestral temple, and at the altars of the spirits of the land and grain.' To a question about the son of a Great officer, the reply, if he be grown up, should be: 'He is able to drive;' and, if he be still young, 'He is not yet able to drive.' To a question about the son of an (ordinary) officer, the reply, if he be grown up, should be: 'He can manage the conveying of a salutation or a message;' and, if he be still young, 'He cannot yet manage such a thing.' To a question about the son of a common man, the reply, if he be grown up, should be: 'He is able to carry (a bundle of) firewood;' and, if he be still young, 'He is not yet able to carry (such a bundle).'
When one asks about the wealth of the ruler of a state, the reply should be given by telling the extent of his territory, and the productions of its hills and lakes. To a similar question about a Great officer, it should be said, 'He has the lands allotted to him, and is supported by the labour (of his people). He needs not to borrow the vessels or dresses for his sacrificial occasions.' To the same question about an (ordinary) officer, the reply should be by giving the number of his carriages; and to one about a common man, by telling the number of the animals that he keeps.
The son of Heaven sacrifices (or presents oblations) to Heaven and Earth; to the (spirits presiding over the) four quarters; to (the spirits of) the hills and rivers; and offers the five sacrifices of the house, all in the course of the year. The feudal princes present oblations, each to (the spirit pre-siding over) his own quarter; to (the spirits of) its hills and rivers; and offer the five sacrifices of the house,-all in the course of the year. Great officers present the oblations of the five sacrifices of the house, all in the course of the year. (Other) officers present oblations to their ancestors.
There should be no presuming to resume any sacrifice which has been abolished (by proper authority), nor to abolish any which has been so established. A sacrifice which it is not proper to offer, and which yet is offered, is called a licentious sacrifice. A licentious sacrifice brings no blessing. The son of Heaven uses an ox of one colour, pure and unmixed; a feudal prince, a fatted ox; a Great officer, an ox selected for the occasion; an (ordinary) officer, a sheep or a pig. The son of an inferior member of the harem cannot offer the sacrifice (to his grandfather or father); if (for some reason) he have to do so, he must report it to the honoured son, (the head of the family).
According to the rules for all sacrifices in the ancestral temple, the ox is called 'the creature with the large foot;' the pig, 'the hard bristles;' a sucking-pig, 'the fatling;' a sheep, 'the soft hair;' a cock, 'the loud voice;' a dog, 'the soup offering;' a pheasant, 'the wide toes;' a hare, 'the clear seer;' the stalks of dried flesh, 'the exactly cut oblations;' dried fish, 'the well-considered oblation;' fresh fish, 'the straight oblation.' Water is called 'the pure cleanser;' spirits, 'the clear cup;' millet, 'the fragrant mass;' the large-grained millet, 'the fragrant (grain);' the sacrificial millet, 'the bright grain;' paddy, 'the admirable vegetable;' scallions, 'the rich roots;' salt, 'the saline, briny substance;' jade, 'the admirable jade;' and silks, 'the exact silks.'
The death of the son of Heaven is expressed by beng (has fallen); of a feudal prince, by hong (has crashed); of a Great officer, by Zu (has ended); of an (ordinary) officer, by Bu Lu (is now unsalaried); and of a common man, by si (has deceased). (The corpse) on the couch is called shi (the laid-out), when it is put into the coffin, that is called jiu (being in the long home). (The death of) a winged fowl is expressed by jiang (has fallen down); that of a quadruped, by zi (is disorganised). Death from an enemy in fight is called bing (is slain by the sword).
In sacrificing to them, a grandfather is called 'the sovereign grandfather;' a grandmother,' the sovereign grandmother;' a father, 'the sovereign father;' a mother, 'the sovereign mother; a husband, 'the sovereign pattern.' While (they are) alive, the names of father (fu), mother (mu), and wife (qi) are used; when they are dead, those of 'the completed one (kao),' 'the corresponding one (bi),' and 'the honoured one (pin).' Death in old age is called 'a finished course (zu);' an early death, 'being unsalaried (bu lu).'
The son of Heaven does not look at a person above his collar or below his girdle; the ruler of a state looks at him a little lower (than the collar); a Great officer, on a line with his heart; and an ordinary officer, not from beyond a distance of five paces. In all cases looks directed above to the face denote pride, and below the girdle grief; directed askance, they denote villainy.
When the ruler orders (any special business) from a Great officer or (other) officer, he should assiduously discharge it; in their offices speaking (only) of the official business; in the treasury, of treasury business; in the arsenals, of arsenal business; and in the court, of court business.
At court there should be no speaking about dogs and horses. When the audience is over, and one looks about him, if he be not attracted by some strange thing, he must have strange thoughts in his mind. When one keeps looking about him after the business of the court is over, a superior man will pronounce him uncultivated. At court the conversation should be according to the rules of propriety; every question should be so proposed, and every answer so returned.
For great entertainments there should be no consulting the tortoise-shell, and no great display of wealth.
By way of presents of introduction, the son of Heaven uses spirits of black millet; feudal princes, their symbols of jade; a high minister, a lamb; a Great officer, a goose; an (ordinary) officer, a pheasant; a common man, a duck. Lads should bring their article, and withdraw. In the open country, in the army, they do not use such presents; a tassel from a horse's breast, an archer's armlet, or an arrow may serve the purpose. For such presents women use the fruits of the hovenia dulcis, or of the hazel tree, strings of dried meat, jujube dates, and chestnuts.
In presenting a daughter for (the harem of) the son of Heaven it is said, 'This is to complete the providers of sons for you;' for that of the ruler of a state, 'This is to complete the providers of your spirits and sauces;' for that of a Great officer, 'This is to complete the number of those who sprinkle and sweep for you.'
Source: Chinese Text Project http://ctext.org/liji. English translation "Sacred Books of the East, volume 28, part 4: The Li Ki", James Legge, 1885