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The Book of Rites 《禮記》

《郊特牲》 The Single Victim at the Border Sacrifices

》 The Single Victim at the Border Sacrifices

社稷大牢天子諸侯諸侯諸侯天子天子大牢天子
At the border sacrifices a single victim was used, and at the altars to (the spirits of) the land and grain there was (the full complement of) three Victims. When the son of Heaven went on his inspecting tours to the princes, the viands of the feast to him were composed of a (single) calf; and when they visited him, the rites with which he received them showed the three regular animals. (The feasting of him in such a manner) was to do honour to the idea of sincerity. Therefore if the animal happened to be pregnant, the son of Heaven did not eat of it, nor did he use such a victim in sacrificing to God.

大路諸侯而已
The horses of the Grand carriage had one ornamental tassel at the breast; those of the carriages that preceded had three; and those of the carriages that followed had five. There were the blood at the border sacrifice; the raw flesh in the great offering of the ancestral temple; the sodden flesh where spirits are presented thrice; and the roast meat where they are presented once:--these were expressive of the greatest reverence, but the taste was not valued; what was held in honour was the scent of the air. When the princes appeared as guests, they were presented with herb-flavoured spirits, because of their fragrance; at the great entertainment to them the value was given to (the preliminary) pieces of flesh prepared with cinnamon and nothing more.

三重
At a great feast (to the ruler of another state), the ruler (who was the host) received the cup seated on his three mats. (On occasion of a visit through a minister or Great officer) when the cup was thrice presented, the ruler received it on a single mat:--so did he descend from the privilege of his more honourable rank, and assume the lower distinction (of his visitor).

陰陽孤子無聲
In feasting (the orphaned young in spring) and at the vernal sacrifice in the ancestral temple they had music; but in feeding (the aged) and at the autumnal sacrifice they had no music:-these were based in the developing and receding influences (prevalent in nature). All drinking serves to nourish the developing influence; all eating to nourish the receding influence. Hence came the different character of the vernal and autumnal sacrifices; the feasting the orphaned young in spring, and the feeding the aged in autumn:-the idea was the same. But in the feeding and at the autumnal sacrifice there was no music. Drinking serves to nourish the developing influence and therefore is accompanied with music. Eating serves to nourish the receding influence, and therefore is not accompanied with music. All modulation of sound partakes of the character of development.

陰陽水土所以
The number of tripods and meat-stands was odd, and that of the tall dishes of wood and bamboo was even; this also was based in the numbers belonging to the developing and receding influences. The stands were filled with the products of the water and the land. They did not dare to use for them things of extraordinary flavours or to attach a value to the multitude and variety of their contents, and it was thus that they maintained their intercourse with spiritual intelligences.

大門》,孔子貴人作者陰陽萬物
When the guests had entered the great door, the music struck up the Si Xia, showing the blended ease and respect (of the king). (While feasting), at the end of (every) cup the music stopped (for a moment), a practice of which Confucius often indicated his admiration. When the last cup had been put down, the performers ascended the hall, and sang;--exhibiting the virtues (of host and guests). The singers were (in the hall) above, and the organists were (in the court) below;--the honour being thus given to the human voice. Music comes from the expanding influence (that operates in nature); ceremonies from the contracting. When the two are in harmony, all things obtain (their full development).

所以土地前列
There were no fixed rules for the various articles of tribute. They were the different products of the different territories according to their several suitabilities, and were regulated by their distances (from the royal domain). The tortoises were placed in front of all the other offerings - because (the shell) gave the knowledge of the future. The bells succeeded to them - because of their harmony, they were a symbol of the union of feeling that should prevail'. Then there were the skins of tigers and leopards - emblems of the fierce energy with which insubordination would be repressed; and there were the bundles of silks with disks of jade on them, showing how (the princes) came to (admire and experience) the virtue (of the king).

齊桓公大夫文子
(The use of) a hundred torches in his courtyard began with duke Huan of Qi. The playing of the Si Xia (at receptions) of Great officers began with Zhao Wen-zi.

朝覲大夫覿大夫使所以覿所以致敬覿諸侯為人外交
When appearing at another court, for a Great officer to have a private audience was contrary to propriety. If he were there as a commissioner, bearing his own prince's token of rank, this served as his credentials. That he did not dare to seek a private audience showed the reverence of his loyalty. What had he to do with the tribute-offerings in the court of the other prince that he should seek a private audience? The minister of a prince had no intercourse outside his own state, thereby showing how he did not dare to serve two rulers.

大夫大夫天子為主天子諸侯諸侯天子失禮夷王以下
For a Great officer to receive his ruler to an entertainment was contrary to propriety. For a ruler to put to death a Great officer who had violently exercised his power was (held) an act of righteousness; and it was first seen in the case of the three Huan. The son of Heaven did not observe any of the rules for a visitor or guest - no one could presume to be his host. When a ruler visited one of his ministers, he went up to the hall by the steps proper to the master - the minister did not presume in such a case to consider the house to be his own. According to the rules for audiences, the son of Heaven did not go down from the hall and meet the princes. To descend from the hall and meet the princes, was an error on the part of the son of Heaven, which began with king Yi, and was afterwards observed.

諸侯玉磬大武》,大路諸侯反坫大夫天子諸侯大夫諸侯覿天下諸侯天子大夫諸侯私家
For the princes to suspend (their drums and bells) in four rows like the walls of an apartment (after the fashion of the king), and to use a white bull in sacrificing; to strike the sonorous jade; to use the red shields with their metal fronts and the cap with descending tassels in dancing the Da-Wu; and to ride in the grand chariot - these were usages which they usurped. The towered gateway with the screen across the path, and the stand to receive the emptied cups; the axes embroidered on the inner garment with its vermilion colour - these were usurpations of the Great officers. Thus, when the son of Heaven was small and weak, the princes pushed their usurpations; and when the Great officers were strong, the princes were oppressed by them, In this state (those officers) gave honour to one another as if they had been of (high) degree; had interviews with one another and made offerings; and bribed one another for their individual benefit: and thus all usages of ceremony were thrown into disorder. It was not lawful for the princes to sacrifice to the king to whom they traced their ancestry, nor for the Great officers to do so to the rulers from whom they sprang. The practice of having a temple to such rulers in their private families, was contrary to propriety. It originated with the three Huan.

天子二代之後不過二代
The son of Heaven preserved the descendants of (the sovereigns of) the two (previous) dynasties, still honouring the worth (of their founders). But this honouring the (ancient) worthies did not extend beyond the two dynasties.

諸侯
Princes did not employ as ministers refugee rulers. Hence anciently refugee rulers left no son who continued their title.

北面
A ruler stood with his face towards the south, to show that he would be (in his sphere) what the influence of light and heat was (in nature). His ministers stood with their faces to the north, in response to him.

大夫稽首家臣
The minister of a Great officer did not bow his face to the ground before him, not from any honour paid to the minister, but that the officer might avoid receiving the homage which he had paid himself to the ruler.

大夫
When a Great officer was presenting (anything to his ruler), he did not do so in his own person; when the ruler was making him a gift, he did not go to bow in acknowledgment to him: that the ruler might not (have the trouble of) responding to him.

鄉人孔子朝服
When the villagers were driving away pestilential influences, Confucius would stand at the top of his eastern steps, in his court robes, to keep the spirits (of his departed) undisturbed in their shrines.

孔子:「何以何以?」
Confucius said, 'The practice of archery to the notes of music (is difficult). How shall the archer listen, and how shall he shoot, (that the two things shall be in harmony)?'

孔子:「使不能。」
Confucius said, 'When an officer is required to shoot, if he be not able, he declines on the ground of being ill, with reference to the bow suspended at the left of the door (at his birth).'

孔子:「一日不敬?」
Confucius said, 'There are three days' fasting on hand., If one fast for the first day, he should still be afraid of not being (sufficiently) reverent. What are we to think of it, if on the second day he beat his drums?'

孔子:「東方西方。」
Confucius said, 'The repetition of the sacrifice next day inside the Ku gate; the searching for the spirits in the eastern quarter; and the holding the market in the morning in the western quarter - these all are errors.'

日用天子大社霜露風雨天地是故使所以萬物取法是以教民國主國人所以
At the She, they sacrificed to (the spirits of) the land, and on the tablet rested the power of the darker and retiring influence of nature. The ruler stands (in sacrificing) with his face to the south at the foot of the wall on the north, responding to the idea of that influence as coming from the north. A jia day is used (for the sacrifice), to employ a commencing day (in the Cycle). The great She altar of the son of Heaven was open to receive the hoarfrost, dew, wind, and rain, and allow the influences of heaven and earth to have full development upon it. For this reason the She altar of a state that had perished was roofed in, so that it was not touched by the brightness and warmth of Heaven. The altar (of Yin) at Bo had an opening in the wall on the north, so that the dim and cold (moon) might shine into it. In the sacrifice at the She altars they dealt with the earth as if it were a spirit. The earth supported all things, while heaven hung out its brilliant signs. They derived their material resources from the earth; they derived rules (for their courses of labour) from the heavens. Thus they were led to give honour to heaven and their affection to the earth, and therefore they taught the people to render a good return (to the earth). (The Heads of) families provided (for the sacrifice to it) at the altar in the open court (of their houses); in the kingdom and the states they did so at the She altars; showing how it was the source (of their prosperity). When there was a sacrifice at the She altar of a village, some one went out to it from every house. When there was such a sacrifice in preparation for a hunt, the men of the state all engaged in it. When there was such a sacrifice, from the towns, small and large, they contributed their vessels of rice, thereby expressing their gratitude to the source (of their prosperity) and going back in their thoughts to the beginning (of all being).

季春然後軍旅
In the last month of spring, the fire star having appeared, they set fire to (the grass and brushwood). When this was done, they reviewed the chariots and men, numbering the companies, of a hundred and of five. Then the ruler in person addressed them in front of the She altar, and proceeded to exercise their squadrons, now wheeling to the left, now wheeling to the right, now making them lie down, now making them rise up; and observing how they practised these evolutions. When the game came in sight and the desire of capturing it was exerted, (he watched) to see that (the hunters) did not break any of the rules (for their proceedings). It was thus sought to bring their wills into subjection, and make them not pursue the animals (in an irregular way). In this way such men conquered in fight, and such sacrificing obtained blessing.

天子四方主日掃地天地以至受命受教之內百官百姓
The son of Heaven, in his tours (of Inspection) to the four quarters (of the kingdom), as the first thing (on his arrival at each) reared the pile of wood (and set fire to it). At the (Great) border sacrifice, he welcomed the arrival of the longest day. It was a great act of thanksgiving to Heaven, and the sun was the chief object considered in it'. The space marked off for it was in the southern suburb - the place most open to the brightness and warmth (of the heavenly influence). The sacrifice was offered on the ground which had been swept for the purpose;--to mark the simplicity (of the ceremony). The vessels used were of earthenware and of gourds - to emblem the natural (productive power of) heaven and earth. The place was the suburb, and therefore the sacrifice was called the suburban or border. The victim was red, that being the colour preferred by the (Zhou) dynasty; and it was a calf - to show the estimation of simple sincerity. For (all) sacrifices in the border they used a xin day; because when Zhou first offered the border sacrifice, it was the longest day, and its name began with xin. When divining about the border sacrifice, (the king) received the reply in the fane of his (great) ancestor, and the tortoise-shell was operated on in that of his father; honour being thus done to his ancestor, and affection shown to his father. On the day of divination, he stood by the lake, and listened himself to the declarations and orders which were delivered, showing an example of receiving lessons and reproof. (The officers) having communicated to him the orders (to be issued), he gives warning notice of them to all the officers (of a different surname from himself), inside the Ku gate (of the palace), and to those of the same surname, in the Grand temple.

日月聖人所以明天以為三月所以天神萬物所以上帝
On the day of the sacrifice, the king in his skin cap waits for the news that all is ready, showing the people how they ought to venerate their superiors. Those who were engaged in mourning rites did not wail nor venture to put on their mourning dress. (The people) watered and swept the road, and turned it up afresh with the spade; at (the top of) the fields in the neighbourhood they kept torches burning - thus without special orders complying with (the wish of) the king. On that day, the king assumed the robe with the ascending dragons on it as an emblem of the heavens. He wore the cap with the pendants of jade-pearls, to the number of twelve, which is the number of heaven. He rode in the plain carriage, because of its simplicity. From the flag hung twelve pendants, and on it was the emblazonry of dragons, and the figures of the sun and moon, in imitation of the heavens. Heaven hangs out its brilliant figures, and the sages imitated them. This border sacrifice is the illustration of the way of Heaven. If there appeared anything infelicitous about the victim intended for God, it was used for that intended for Ji. That intended for God required to be kept in its clean stall for three months. That intended for Ji simply required to be perfect in its parts. This was the way in which they made a distinction between the spirits of Heaven and the manes of a man. All things originate from Heaven; man originates from his (great) ancestor. This is the reason why Ji was associated with God (at this sacrifice). In the sacrifices at the border there was an expression of gratitude to the source (of their prosperity and a going back in their thoughts to the beginning of (all being).

天子十二月萬物祭司禽獸君子使田鼠」,昆蟲草木送終
The great ji sacrifice of the son of Heaven consisted of eight (sacrifices). This sacrifice was first instituted by Yin Qi. (The word) ji expresses the idea of searching out. In the twelfth month of a year, they brought together (some of) all the productions (of the harvest), and sought out (the authors of them) to present them to them as offerings. In the ji sacrifice, the principal object contemplated was the Father of Husbandry. They also presented offerings to (ancient) superintendents of husbandry, and to the (discoverers of the) various grains, to express thanks for the crops which had been reaped. They presented offerings (also) to the (representatives of the ancient inventors of the overseers of the) husbandmen, and of the buildings marking out the boundaries of the fields, and of the birds and beasts. The service showed the highest sentiments of benevolence and of righteousness. The ancient wise men had appointed all these agencies, and it was felt necessary to make this return to them. They met the (representatives of the) cats, because they devoured the rats and mice (which injured the fruits) of the fields, and (those of) the tigers, because they devoured the (wild) boars (which destroyed them). They met them and made offerings to them. They offered also to (the ancient Inventors of) the dykes and water-channels;--(all these were) provisions for the husbandry. They said, 'May the ground no sliding show, Water in its channels flow, Insects to keep quiet know; Only in the fens weeds grow!' They presented their offerings in skin caps and white robes;-in white robes to escort the closing year (to its grave). They wore sashes of dolychos cloth, and carried staffs of hazel, as being reduced forms of mourning. In the ji were expressed the highest sentiments of benevolence and righteousness. (After this) they proceeded to sacrifice in yellow robes and yellow caps, releasing the field-labourers from the toils (of the year). Countrymen wore yellow hats, which were made of straw.

羅氏天子鳥獸諸侯羅氏鹿諸侯:「。」天子
The Great Netter was the officer who had the management for the son of Heaven of his birds and (captured) beasts, and to his department belonged (all such creatures) sent by the princes as tribute. (Those who brought them) wore hats of straw or bamboo splints, appearing, by way of honour to it, in that country dress. The Netter declined the deer and women (which they brought), and announced to the visitors the message (of the king) to this effect, that they might warn the princes with it: 'He who loves hunting and women, Brings his state to ruin.' The son of Heaven planted gourds and flowering plants; not such things as might be reaped and stored.

四方四方不順移民君子
The ji with its eight sacrifices served to record (the condition of the people) throughout all the quarters (of the country). If in any quarter the year had not been good, it did not contribute to those services, out of a careful regard to the resources of the people. Where the labours of a good year had been successfully completed, they took part in them, to give them pleasure and satisfaction. Alt the harvest having by this time been gathered, the people had nothing to do but to rest, and therefore after the ji wise (rulers) commenced no new work.

水草和氣水土所以神明
The pickled contents of the ordinary dishes were water-plants produced by the harmonious powers (of nature); the brine used with them was from productions of the land. The additional dishes contained productions of the land with the brine from productions of the water. The things in the dishes on stands were from both the water and land'. They did not venture to use in them the flavours of ordinary domestic use, but variety was considered admirable. It was in this way that they sought to have communion with the spirits; it was not intended to imitate the flavours of food.

先王可食不可不可不可宗廟不可宗廟不可便所以神明不可安樂
The things set before the ancient kings served as food, but did not minister to the pleasures of the palate. The dragon-robe, the tasseled cap, and the great carriage served for display, but did not awaken a fondness for their use. The various dances displayed the gravity of the performers, but did not awaken the emotion of delight. The ancestral temple produced the impression of majesty, but did not dispose one to rest in it. Its vessels might be employed (for their purposes in it), but could not be conveniently used for any other. The idea which leads to intercourse with spiritual Beings is not interchangeable with that which finds its realisation in rest and pleasure.

明水五味文繡疏布女功稿漆雕而已所以神明不可如是而後
Admirable as are the spirits and sweet spirits, a higher value is attached to the dark spirit and the bright water,--in order to honour that which is the source of the five flavours. Beautiful as is the elegant embroidery of robes, a higher value is set on plain, coarse cloth, going back to the commencement of woman's work. Inviting as is the rest afforded by the mats of fine rushes and bamboos, the preference is given to the coarse ones of reeds and straw, distinguishing the (character of the service in which they were employed). The Grand soup is unseasoned,-in honour of its simplicity. The Grand symbols of jade have no engraving on them, in admiration of their simple plainness. There is the beauty of the red varnish and carved border (of a carriage), but (the king) rides in a plain one, doing honour to its plainness. In all these things it is simply the idea of the simplicity that is the occasion of the preference and honour. In. maintaining intercourse with spiritual and intelligent Beings, there should be nothing like an extreme desire for rest and ease in our personal gratification. It is this which makes the above usages suitable for their purpose.

陰陽之上清明清明
The number of the tripods and meat-stands was odd, but that of the tall dishes of wood and bamboo was even, having regard to the numbers belonging to the developing and receding influences of nature. The vase with the yellow eyes was the most valued of all, and contained the spirit with the fragrant herbs. Yellow is the colour (of earth) which occupies the central places. In the eye the energy (of nature) appears most purely and brilliantly. Thus the spirit to be poured out is in that cup, the (emblem of the) centre, and (the symbol of) what is Most pure and bright appears outside.

掃地而已而後
When Sacrificing to Heaven, the earth is swept, and the sacrifice presented on the ground, from a regard to the simplicity of such an unartificial altar. Admirable as are the vinegar and pickles, suet boiled and produced through evaporation is preferred, to do honour to the natural product of heaven. An ordinary knife might be employed (to kill the victim), but that fitted with bells is preferred, giving honour to the idea thereby indicated; there is the harmony of sound, and then the cutting work is done.

孔子:「。」
(As to) the meaning of (the ceremony of) capping: The cap used for the first act of the service was of black cloth, the cap of the highest antiquity. It was originally of (white) cloth, but the colour when it was used in fasting was dyed black. As to its strings, Confucius said, 'I have not heard anything about them.' This cap, after it had been once put upon (the young man), might be disused.


The son by the wife proper was capped by the eastern stairs (appropriate to the use of the master), to show how he was in their line of succession to him. The father handed him a cup in the guests' place (without receiving one in return). The capping showed that he had reached maturity. The using of three caps was to give greater importance (to the ceremony), and show its object more clearly. The giving the name of maturity in connexion with the ceremony was to show the reverence due to that name.


The wei-mao was the fashion of Zhou; the zhang-fu, that of Yin; and the mu-zhui, that of the sovereigns of Xia. Zhou used the bian; Yin, the xu; and Xia, the shou. The three dynasties all used the skin cap, with the skirt-of-white gathered up at the waist.

大夫冠禮五十而後大夫冠禮諸侯冠禮末造
There were no observances peculiar to the capping (in the families) of Great officers, though there were (peculiar) marriage ceremonies. Anciently a man was fifty when he took the rank of a Great officer; how should there have been peculiar ceremonies at his cappings? The peculiar ceremonies at the cappings as used by the princes arose in the end of the Xia dynasty.

天子天下無生諸侯官爵
The eldest son of the son of Heaven by his proper queen (was capped only as) an ordinary officer. There was nowhere such a thing as being born noble. Princes received their appointments on the hereditary principle, (to teach them) to imitate the virtue of their predecessors. Men received office and rank according to the degree of their virtue. There was the conferring of an honourable designation after death; but that is a modern institution. Anciently, there was no rank on birth, and no honorary title after death.

天子所以治天下
That which is most important in ceremonies is to understand the idea intended in them. While the idea is missed, the number of things and observances in them may be correctly exhibited, as that is the business of the officers of prayer and the recorders. Hence that may all be exhibited, but it is difficult to know the idea. The knowledge of that idea, and the reverent maintenance of it was the way by which the sons of Heaven secured the good government of the kingdom.

天地而後萬物萬世異姓所以終身
By the united action of heaven and earth all things spring up. Thus the ceremony of marriage is the beginning of a (line that shall last for a) myriad ages. The parties are of different surnames; thus those who are distant are brought together, and the separation (to be maintained between those who are of the same surname) is emphasised. There must be sincerity in the marriage presents; and all communications (to the woman) must be good. She should be admonished to be upright and sincere. Faithfulness is requisite in all service of others, and faithfulness is (specially) the virtue of a wife. Once mated with her husband, all her life she will not change (her feeling of duty to him) and hence, when the husband dies she will not marry (again).

男子相見男女有別然後父子父子然後然後然後萬物別無禽獸婿先王所以天下大門夫婦婦人從父從子
The gentleman went in person to meet the bride, the man taking the initiative and not the woman, according to the idea that regulates the relation between the strong and the weak (in all nature). It is according to this same idea that heaven takes precedence of earth, and the ruler of the subject. Presents are interchanged before (the parties) see each other; this reverence serving to illustrate the distinction (that should be observed between man and woman). When this distinction (between husband and wife) is exhibited, affection comes to prevail between father and son. When there is this affection, the idea of righteousness arises in the mind, and to this idea of righteousness succeeds (the observance of) ceremonies. Through those ceremonies there ensues universal repose. The absence of such distinction and righteousness is characteristic of the way of beasts. The bridegroom himself stands by (the carriage of the bride), and hands to her the strap (to assist her in mounting), showing his affection. Having that affection, he seeks to bring her near to him. It was by such reverence and affection for their wives that the ancient kings obtained the kingdom. In passing out from the great gate (of her father's house), he precedes, and she follows, and with this the right relation between husband and wife commences. The woman follows (and obeys) the man:-in her youth, she follows her father and elder brother; when married, she follows her husband; when her husband is dead, she follows her son. 'Man' denotes supporter. A man by his wisdom should (be able to) lead others.

齋戒鬼神陰陽以為社稷先祖可以致敬尊卑婦人
The dark-coloured cap, and the (preceding) fasting and vigil, (with which the bridegroom meets the bride, makes the ceremony like the service of) spiritual beings, and (the meeting of) the bright and developing and receding influences (in nature). The result of it will be to give the lord for the altars to the spirits of the land and grain, and the successors of the forefathers of the past - is not the utmost reverence appropriate in it? Husband and wife ate, together of the same victim, thus declaring that they were of the same rank. Hence while the wife had (herself) no rank, she was held to be of the rank of her husband, and she took her seat according to the position belonging to him.

西
The old rule at sacrifices was to have the vessels (only) of earthenware and gourds; and when the kings of the three dynasties instituted the (partaking of the) victim, those were the vessels employed. On the day after the marriage, the wife, having washed her hands, prepared and presented (a sucking-pig) to her husband's parents; and when they had done eating, she ate what was left - as a mark of their special regard. They descended from the hall by the steps on the west, while she did so by those on the east - so was she established in the wife's (or mistress's) place.

不用
At the marriage ceremony, they did not employ music, having reference to the feeling of solitariness and darkness (natural to the separation from parents). Music expresses the energy of the bright and expanding influence. There was no congratulation on marriage;-it indicates how (one generation of) men succeeds to another.

血腥臭味未成滌蕩然後聲音所以天地之間淵泉然後然後陰陽
At the sacrifices in the time of the lord of Yu the smell was thought most important. There were the offerings of blood, of raw flesh, and of sodden flesh;--all these were employed for the sake of the smell. Under the Yin, sound was thought most important. Before there was any smell or flavour, the music was made to resound clearly. It was not till there had been three performances of it that they went out to meet (and bring in) the victim. The noise of the music was a summons addressed to all between heaven and earth. Under the Zhou, a pungent odour was thought most important. In libations they employed the smell of millet-spirits in which fragrant herbs had been infused. The fragrance, partaking of the nature of the receding influence, penetrates to the deep springs below. The libations were poured from cups with long handles of jade, (as if) to employ (also) the smell of the mineral. After the liquor was poured, they met (and brought in) the victim, having first diffused the smell into the unseen realm. Artemisia along with millet and rice having then been burned (with the fat of the victim), the fragrance penetrates through all the building. It was for this reason that, after the cup had been put down, they burnt the fat with the southernwood and millet and rice. So careful were they on all occasions of sacrifice. The intelligent spirit returns to heaven the body and the animal soul return to the earth; and hence arose the idea of seeking (for the deceased) in sacrifice in the unseen darkness and in the bright region above. Under the Yin, they first sought for them in the bright region; under Zhou, they first sought for them in the dark.

所在遠人
They informed the officer of prayer in the apartment; they seated the representative of the departed in the hall; they killed the victim in the courtyard. The head of the victim was taken up to the apartment. This was at the regular sacrifice, when the officer of prayer addressed himself to the spirit-tablet of the departed. If it were (merely) the offering of search, the minister of prayer takes his place at the inside of the gate of the temple. They knew not whether the spirit were here, or whether it were there, or far off, away from all men. Might not that offering inside the gate be said to be a searching for the spirit in its distant place?


That service at the gate was expressive of the energy of the search. The stand with the heart and tongue of the victim (set forth before the personator) was expressive of reverence. (The wish of the principal) for wealth (to those assisting him) included all happiness. The (presentation of the) head was (intended as) a direct (communication with the departed). The presence (of the representative) was that the spirit might enjoy (the offerings). The blessing (pronounced by him) was for long continuance, and comprehensive. The personator (seemed) to display (the departed).

血祭盛氣
The (examination of the) hair and the (taking of the) blood was an announcement that the victim was complete within and without. This announcement showed the value set on its being perfect'. The offering of the blood was because of the breath which is contained in it. They offered (specially) the lungs,, the liver, and the heart, doing honour to those parts as the home of the breath.

明水
In offering the millet and the glutinous millet, they presented the lungs along with it. In offering the various prepared liquors, they presented the bright water;--in both cases acknowledging their obligations to the dark and receding influence (in nature). In taking the fat of the inwards and burning it, and in taking the head up (to the hall), they made their acknowledgments to the bright and active influence.

明水明水主人
In the bright water and the clear liquor the thing valued was their newness. All clarifying is a sort of making new. The water was called 'bright' because the principal in the service had purified it.

稽首肉袒稽首肉袒
When the ruler bowed twice with his head to the ground, and, with breast bared, himself applied the knife, this expressed his extreme reverence. Yes, his extreme reverence, for there was submission in it. The bowing showed his submission; the laying the head on the ground did that emphatically; and the baring his breast was the greatest (outward) exhibition of the feeling.

孝子曾孫國家祭祀主人
When the sacrificer styled himself 'the filial son,' or 'the filial grandson,' he did so (in all cases) according to the meaning of the name. When he styled himself 'So and So, the distant descendant,' that style was used of (the ruler of) a state or (the Head of) a clan. (Though) there were the assistants at the service, the principal himself gave every demonstration of reverence and performed all his admirable service without yielding anything to any one.

主人而已
The flesh of the victim might be presented raw and as a whole, or cut up in pieces, or sodden, or thoroughly cooked; but how could they know whether the spirit enjoyed it? The sacrificer simply showed his reverence to the utmost of his power.

而後
(When the representative of the departed) had made the libation with the zhi cup, or the horn, (the sacrificer) was told (to bow to him) and put him at ease. Anciently, the representative stood when nothing was being done; when anything was being done, he sat. He personated the spirit; the officer of prayer was the medium of communication between him and the sacrificer.

明清
In straining (the new liquor) for the cup, they used the white (mao) grass and obtained a clear cup. The liquor beginning to clear itself was further clarified by means of pure liquor. The juice obtained by boiling aromatics (with the extract of millet) was clarified by mingling with it the liquor which had begun to clear itself:-in the same way as old and strong spirits are qualified by the brilliantly pure liquor or that which has begun to clear itself.


Sacrifices were for the purpose of prayer, or of thanksgiving, or of deprecation.

君子
The dark-coloured robes worn during vigil and purification had reference to the occupation of the thoughts with the dark and unseen. Hence after the three days of purification, the superior man was sure (to seem) to see those to whom his sacrifice was to be offered.

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

Glossary and Other Vocabulary