I have heard (the following things): When one wished to see for the first time another of character and position, his language was, 'so and so, earnestly wish my name to be reported to the officer of communication.' He could not go up the steps directly to the host. If the visitor were of equal rank with the host, he said, 'I, so and so, earnestly wish to see him.' If he were an infrequent visitor, he asked his name to be reported. If he were a frequent visitor, he added, 'this morning or evening.' If he were blind, he asked his name to be reported. If it were on an occasion of mourning, the visitor said he had come as a servant and helper; if he were a youth, that he had come to perform whatever might be required of him. If the visit were at the mourning rites for a ruler or high minister, the language was, 'I am come to be employed by the chief minister of the household.'
When a ruler was about to go out of his own state, if a minister were presenting to him money or pieces of jade, or any other article, the language was, 'I present this to the officer for the expenses of his horses.' To an equal in a similar case it was said, 'This is presented for the use of your followers.' When a minister contributed a shroud to his ruler, he said, 'I send this laid-aside garment to the valuers.' An equal, sending such a gift to another equal, simply said, 'a shroud.' Relatives, such as brothers, did not go in with the shrouds which they presented. When a minister was contributing articles or their value to his ruler who had mourning rites on hand for the previous ruler, he said, 'I present these products of my fields to the officers.'
A carriage and horses presented for a funeral, entered the gate of the ancestral temple. Contributions of money and horses with the accompanying presents of silk, the white flag (of a mourning carriage) and war chariots, did not enter the gate of the temple. When the hearer of the contribution had delivered his message, he knelt down and left the things on the ground. The officer of communication took them up. The presiding mourner did not himself receive them.
When the receiver stood, the giver stood; neither knelt. Parties of a straightforward character might, perhaps, do so. When (the guest was) first entering, and it was proper to give the precedence to him, the officer of communication said (to the host), 'Give precedence.' When they proceeded to their mats, he said to them, 'Yes; be seated.' When the leaves of the door were opened, only one man could take off his shoes inside the door. If there were already an honourable and elderly visitor, parties coming later could not do so.
When asking about the various dishes (of a feast), they said, 'Have you enjoyed such and such a dish?' When asking one another about their (various) courses and accomplishments they said, 'Have you practised such and such a course? Are you skilful at such and such an accomplishment?' (A man sought to) give no occasion for doubt about himself, nor to pass his judgment on the articles of others. He did not desire the (possessions of) great families, nor speak injuriously of the things which they valued.
Sweeping in general was called sao. Sweeping up in front of a mat was called fan. In sweeping a mat they did not use a common broom. The sweeper held the dust-pan with its tongue towards himself.
There was no divining (twice about the same thing) with a double mind. In asking about what had been referred to the tortoise-shell or the stalks, two things were to be considered, whether the thing asked, about were right, and what was the diviner's own mind. On the matter of right he might be questioned, but not on what was in his own mind.
When others more honourable and older than one's self took precedence of him, he did not presume to ask their age. When they came to feast with him, he did not send to them any (formal) message. When he met them on the road, if they saw him, he went up to them, but did not ask to know where they were going. At funeral rites for them, he waited to observe the movements (of the presiding mourner), and did not offer his special condolences. When seated by them, he did not, unless ordered to do so, produce his lutes. He did not draw lines on the ground; that would have been an improper use of his hand. He did not use a fan. If they were asleep, and he had any message to communicate to them, he knelt in doing so.
At the game of archery, the inferior carried his four arrows in his hand. At that of throwing darts, he carried the four together in his breast. If he conquered, he washed the cup and gave it to the other, asking him to drink. If he were defeated, the elder went through the same process with him. They did not use the (large) horn; they did not remove the (figure of a) horse (for marking the numbers).
When holding the reins of the ruler's horses, the driver knelt. He wore his sword on his right side with his back to the best strap (for the ruler.). When handing this to him, he faced him and then drew the strap towards the cross-bar. He used the second or inferior strap to help himself in mounting. He then took the reins in hand, and began to move on.
One asked permission to appear at court, but not to withdraw. One was said to withdraw from court; to return home from a feast or a ramble; to close the toils of a campaign.
When sitting by a person of rank, if he began to yawn and stretch himself, to turn round his tablet, to play with the head of his sword, to move his shoes about, or to ask about the time of day, one might ask leave to retire.
For one who (wished to) serve his ruler, (the rule was) first to measure (his abilities and duties), and then enter (on the responsibilities); he did not enter on these, and then measure those. There was the same rule for all who begged or borrowed from others, or sought to engage in their service. In this way superiors had no ground for offence, and inferiors; avoided all risk of guilt. They did not spy into privacies nor form intimacies on matters aside from their proper business. They did not speak of old affairs, nor wear an appearance of being in sport.
One in the position of a minister and inferior might remonstrate (with his ruler), but not speak ill of him; might withdraw (from the state), but not (remain and) hate (its Head); might praise him, but not flatter; might remonstrate, but not give himself haughty airs (when his advice was followed). (If the ruler were) idle and indifferent, he might arouse and assist him; if (the government) were going to wreck, he might sweep it away, and institute a new one. Such a minister would be pronounced as doing service for the altars (of the state).
Do not commence or abandon anything hastily. Do not take liberties with or weary spiritual Beings. Do not try to defend or cover over what was wrong in the past, or to, fathom what has not yet arrived. A scholar should constantly pursue what is virtuous, and amuse himself with the accomplishments. A workman should follow the rules (of his art), and amuse himself with the discussion (of their application). One should not think about the clothes and elegant articles (of others), nor try to make good in himself what is doubtful in words (which he has heard). The style prized in conversation required that it should be grave and distinct. The demeanour prized in the court required that it should be well regulated and urbane; that at sacrifices was to be grave, with an appearance of anxiety. The horses of the chariot were to be well-paced and matched. The beauty of their bells was that they intimated dignity and harmony.
To a question about the age of a ruler's son, if he were grown up, it was said, 'He is able to attend to the business of the altars.' If he were still young, it was said, 'He is able to drive' or 'He is not yet able to drive.' To the same question about a Great officer's son, if he were grown up, it was said, 'He is able to take his part in music;' if still young, it was said, 'He is able to take lessons from the music-master,' or 'He is not yet able to do so.' To the same question about the son of an ordinary officer, if he were grown up, it was said, 'He is able to guide the plough;' if he were still young, it was said, 'He is able to carry firewood,' or 'He is not yet able to do so.'
When carrying a symbol of jade, a tortoiseshell, or the divining stalks, one did not walk hastily. Nor did he do so in the raised hall, or on a city wall. In a war chariot he did not bow forward to the cross-bar. A man in his mail did not try to bow.
A wife, on festive occasions, even though it were on receiving a gift from the ruler, (only) made a curtsy. When seated as a personatrix (of the deceased grandmother of her husband), she did not bow with her head to her hands, but made the curtsy. When presiding at the mourning rites, she did not bow with her head to her hands lowered to the ground. (After the sacrifice of repose), her head-band was of dolychos cloth, and her girdle of hempen.
When taking meat from a stand or putting meat on it, they did not kneel. An empty vessel was carried (with the same care) as a full one, and an empty apartment entered (with the same reverence) as if there were people in it. At all sacrifices, whether in the apartment or in the hall, they did not have their feet bare. At a feast they might. Till they had offered a portion in the temple, they did not eat of a new crop.
In the case of a charioteer and the gentleman whom he was driving, when the latter mounted or descended, the other handed him the strap. When the driver first mounted, he bowed towards the cross-bar. When the gentleman descended to walk, (he also descended), but (immediately) returned to the carriage and stood. The riders in an attendant carriage (to court or temple), bowed forward to the bar, but not if it were to battle or hunt. Of such attendant carriages, the ruler of a state had seven; a Great officer of the highest grade, five; and one of the lowest grade, three. People did not speak of the age of the horses or of the carriages of those who possessed such attendant carriages; nor did they put a value on the dress, or sword, or horses of a gentleman whom they saw before them.
In giving (to an inferior) or offering to a superior, four pots of spirits, a bundle of dried meat, and a dog, (the messenger) put down the liquor, and carried (only) the dried meat in his hand, when discharging his commission, but he also said that he was the bearer of four pots of spirits, a bundle of dried meat, and a dog. In presenting a tripod of flesh, he carried (one piece) in his hand. In presenting birds, if there were more than a couple, he carried a couple in his hand, leaving the others outside. The dog was held by a rope. A watch dog or a hunting dog was given to the officer who was the medium of communication; and on receiving it, he asked its name. An ox was held by the tether, and a horse by the bridle. They were both kept on the right of him who led them; but a prisoner or captive, who was being presented, was kept on the left.
In presenting a carriage, the strap was taken off and carried in the hand of the messenger. In presenting a coat of mail, if there were other things to be carried before it, the messenger bore them. If there were no such things, he took off its covering, and bore the helmet in his hands. In the case of a vessel, he carried its cover. In the case of a bow, with his left hand he stript off the case, and took hold of the middle of the back. In the case of a sword, he opened the cover of its case, and placed it underneath. Then he put into the case a silken cloth, on which he placed the sword.
Official tablets; writings; stalks of dried flesh; parcels wrapped in reeds; bows; cushions; mats; pillows; stools; spikes; staffs; lutes, large and small; sharp-edged lances in sheaths; divining stalks; and flutes - these all were borne with the left hand upwards. Of sharp-pointed weapons, the point was kept behind, and the ring presented; of sharp-edged weapons, the handle was presented. In the case of all sharp-pointed and sharp-edged weapons, the point was turned away in handing them to others.
When leaving the city, in mounting a war-chariot, the weapon was carried with the point in front; when returning and entering it again, the end. The left was the place for the general and officers of an army; the right, for the soldiers.
For visitors and guests the principal thing was a courteous humility; at sacrifices, reverence; at mourning rites, sorrow; at meetings and reunions, an active interest. In the operations of war, the dangers had to be thought of. One concealed his own feelings in order to judge the better of those of others.
When feasting with a man of superior rank and character, the guest first tasted the dishes and then stopt. He should not bolt the food, nor swill down the liquor. He should take small and frequent mouthfuls. While chewing quickly, he did not make faces with his mouth. When he proceeded to remove the dishes, and the host declined that service from him, he stopt.
The cup with which the guest was pledged was placed on the left; those which had been drunk (by the others) on the right. Those of the guest's attendant, of the host himself, and of the host's assistant - these all were placed on the right. In putting down a boiled fish to be eaten, the tail was laid in front. In winter it was placed with the fat belly on the right; in summer with the back. The slices offered in sacrifice (to the father of the fish-diet were thus more easily cut). All condiments were taken up with the right (hand), and were therefore placed on the left. He who received the presents offered (to the ruler) was on his left; he who transmitted his words, on the right. A cup was poured out for the driver of a personator of the dead as for the driver of the ruler. In the carriage, and holding the on the right and left (to the father of charioteering), and then drank off the cup.
Of all viands which were placed on the stands, the offering was put down inside the stand.
A gentleman did not eat the entrails of grain-fed animals.
A boy ran, but did not walk quickly with measured steps. When he took up his cup, he knelt in offering (some of the contents) in sacrifice, and then stood up and drank (the rest). Before rinsing a cup, they washed their hands. In separating the lungs of oxen and sheep, they did not cut out the central portion of them; when viands were served up with sauce, they did not add condiments to it.
In selecting an onion or scallion for a gentleman, they cut off both the root and top.
When the head was presented among the viands, the snout was put forward, to be used as the offering.
He who set forth the jugs considered the left of the cup-bearer to be the place for the topmost one. The jugs and jars were placed with their spouts towards the arranger. The drinkers at the ceremonies of washing the head and cupping, in presence of the stand with the divided victims on it, did not kneel. Before the common cup had gone round, they did not taste the viands.
The flesh of oxen, sheep, and fish was cut small, and made into mince. 'That of elks and deer was pickled; that of the wild pig was hashed: these were all sliced, but not cut small. The flesh of the muntjac was alone pickled, and that of fowls and hares, being sliced and cut small. Onions and shalots were sliced, and added to the brine to soften the meat. When the pieces of the divided body were on the stand, in taking one of them to offer and in returning it, they did not kneel. So it was when they made an offering of roast meat. If the offerer, however, were a personator of the dead, he knelt.
When a man had his robes on his person, and did not know their names (or the meaning of their names), he was ignorant indeed.
If one came late and yet arrived before the torches were lighted, it was announced to him that the guests were all there, and who they were. The same things were intimated to a blind musician by the one who bid him. At a drinking entertainment, when the host carried a light, or bore a torch before them, the guests rise and decline the honour done to them. On this he gave the torch to a torchbearer, who did not move from his place, nor say a word, nor sing.
When one was carrying in water or liquor and food to a superior or elder, the rule was not to breathe on it; and if a question was asked, to turn the mouth on one side.
When one conducted sacrifice for another (and was sending to others the flesh of the victim), the message was, 'Herewith (the flesh of) blessing.' When sending of the flesh of his own sacrifice to a superior man, the party simply announced what it was. If it were flesh of the sacrifice on placing the tablet of the deceased in the temple, or at the close of the first year's mourning, the fact was announced. The principal mourner spread out the portions, and gave them to. his messenger on the south of the eastern steps, bowing twice, and laying his head to the ground as he sent him away; when he returned and reported the execution of his commission, the mourner again bowed twice and laid his head to the ground. If the sacrifice were a great one, consisting of the three victims, then the portion sent was the left quarter of the ox, divided-into nine pieces from the shoulder. If the sacrifice were the smaller, the portion sent was the left quarter, divided into seven pieces. If there were but a single pig, the portion was the left quarter, divided into five portions.
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