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The Book of Rites 《禮記》

《雜記上》 Miscellaneous Records I

雜記》 Miscellaneous records I

When a feudal lord was on the march and died in his lodging, they called back his soul in the same way as in his state. If he died on the road, (one) got up on the nave of the left wheel of the chariot in which he had been riding, and called it, waving the pennon of his flag. (For the carriage with the bier) there was a pall, and attached to it a fringe made of black cloth, like a lower garment, serving as a curtain (to the temporary coffin), and the whole was made into a sort of house by a covering of white brocade. With this they travelled (back to his state), and on arriving at the gate of the temple, without removing the (curtain) wall, they entered and went straight to the place where the coffining was to take place. The pall was removed at the outside of the door.

When a Great officer or an ordinary officer died on the road, (one) got up on the left end of the nave of his carriage, and called back his soul, waving his pennon. If he died in his lodging, they called the soul back in the same manner as if he had died in his house. In the case of a Great officer they made a pall of cloth, and so proceeded homewards. On arriving at the house, they removed the pall, took the (temporary) coffin on a handbarrow, entered the gate, and proceeding to the eastern steps, there halted and removed the barrow, after which they took the body up the steps, right to the place where it was to be coffined. The pall-house made over the body of an ordinary officer was made of the phragmites rush; and the fringe for a curtain below of the typha.

In every announcement of a death to the ruler it was said, 'Your lordship's minister, so and so, has died. When the announcement was from a parent, a wife, or an eldest son, it was said, 'Your lordship's minister, my -----, has died.' In an announcement of the death of a ruler to the ruler of another state, it was said, 'My unworthy ruler has ceased to receive his emoluments. I venture to announce it to your officers.' If the announcement were about the death of his wife, it was said, 'The inferior partner of my poor ruler has ceased to receive her emoluments.' On the death of a ruler's eldest son, the announcement ran, 'The heir-Son of my unworthy ruler, so and so, has died.'


When an announcement of the death of a Great officer was sent to another of the same grade, in the same state, it was said, 'So and so has ceased to receive his emoluments.' The same terms were employed when the announcement was to an ordinary officer. When it was sent to the ruler of another state, it ran, 'Your lordship's outside minister, my poor Great officer, so and so, has died.' If it were to one of equal degree (in the other state), it was said, 'Sir, your outside servant, our poor Great officer, has ceased to receive his emoluments, and I am sent here to inform you.' If it were to an ordinary officer, the announcement was made in the same terms. In the announcement of the death of an ordinary officer to the same parties, it was made in the same-style, only that 'So and so has died,' was employed in all the cases.

A Great officer had his place in the lodgings about the palace, till the end of the mourning rites (for a ruler), while another officer returned to his home on the completion of a year. An ordinary officer had his place in the same lodgings. A Great officer occupied the mourning shed; another officer, the unplastered apartment.

In the mourning for a cousin, either paternal or maternal, who had not attained to the rank of a Great officer, a Great officer wore the mourning appropriate for an ordinary officer; and an ordinary officer, in mourning similarly for a cousin on either side who had been a Great officer, wore the same mourning. The son of a Great officer by his wife proper wore the mourning appropriate for a Great officer. The son of a Great officer by any other member of his harem, who was himself a Great officer wore for his father or mother the mourning of a Great officer; but his Place was only the same as that of a son by the proper wife who was not a Great officer.

When the son of an ordinary officer had become a Great officer, his parents could not preside at his mourning rites. They made his son do so; and if he had no son, they appointed some one to perform that part, and be the representative of the deceased.

When they were divining by the tortoise-shell about the grave and the day of interment of a Great officer, the officer superintending (the operation) wore an upper robe of sackcloth, with (strips of) coarser cloth (across the chest), and a girdle of the same and the usual mourning shoes. His cap was of black material, without any fringe. The diviner wore a skin cap. If the stalks were employed, then the manipulator wore a cap of plain silk, and the long robe. The reader of the result wore his court robes.

At the mourning rites for a Great officer (preparatory to the interment), the horses were brought out. The man who brought them wailed, stamped, and went out. After this (the son) folded up the offerings, and read the list (of the gifts that had been sent).

At the mourning rites for a Great officer, one from the department of the chief superintendent of the ancestral temple assisted (the presiding mourner), and one from that of the assistant superintendent put the question to the tortoise-shell, which was then manipulated in the proper form by the diviner.

In calling back (the soul of) a feudal lord, they used the robe which had first been conferred on him, with the cap and corresponding robes, varying according to the order of his nobility. (In calling back the soul of) a friends wife, they used the black upper robe with a purple border, or that with pheasants embroidered on it in various colours; both of them lined with white crape. (In calling back that of) the wife of a high noble, they used the upper robe of light green, worn on her first appointment to that position, and lined with white crape; (in calling back that of the wife of) a Great officer of the lowest grade, the upper robe of plain white. (The souls of other wives were called back) by parties with the same robe as in the case of an ordinary officer. In the calling back, they stood (with their faces to the north), inclining to the west.

(To the pall over the coffin of a Great officer) there was not attached the (curtain of) yellow silk with pheasants on it, descending below the (bamboo) catch for water.

(The tablet of a grandson who had been) a Great officer was placed (in the shrine of his grandfather who had (only) been an officer; but not if he had only been an officer, and the grandfather a Great officer. In that case, the tablet was placed in the shrine of a brother of the grandfather (who had only been an officer). If there were no such brother, (it was placed in the shrine of their high ancestor), according to the regular order of relationship. Even if his grand-parents were alive, it was so.

The (tablet of a) wife was placed after that of the wife (of the principal of the shrine), in which her husband's tablet was placed. If there had been no such wife, it was placed in the shrine of the wife of the high ancestor, according to the regular order of relationship. The (tablet of a) concubine was placed in the shrine of her husband's grandmother (concubine). If there had been no such concubine, then (it was placed in that of the concubine of the high ancestor) according to the regular order of relationship.

(The tablet of) an unmarried son was placed in the shrine of his grandfather, and was used at sacrifices. That of an unmarried daughter was placed in the shrine of her grandmother, but was not used at sacrifices. The (tablet of) the son of a ruler was placed in the shrine of (one of) the sons (of his grandfather), that grandfather having also been a ruler.

When a ruler died, his eldest son was simply styled son (for that year), but he was treated (by other rulers) as the ruler.

If one, after wearing for a year the mourning and cap proper to the three years for a parent, met with the death of a relative for whom he had to wear the mourning of nine months, he changed it for the hempen-cloth proper to the nine months; but he did not change the staff and shoes.

In mourning for a parent, (after a year) the sackcloth of the nine months' mourning is preferred; but if there occurred the placing in its shrine of the tablet of a brother who had died prematurely, the cap and other mourning worn during that first year was worn in doing so. The youth who had died prematurely was called 'The Bright Lad,' and (the mourner said), 'My so and so,' without naming him. This was treating him with reference to his being in the spirit-state.

In the case of brothers living in different houses, when one first heard of the death of another, he might reply to the messenger simply with a wail. His first step then was to put on the sackcloth, and the girdle with dishevelled edges. If, before he had put on the sackcloth, he hurried off to the mourning rites, and the presiding mourner had not yet adjusted his head-band and girdle, in the case of the deceased being one for whom he had to mourn for five months, he completed that term along with the presiding mourner. If nine months were due to the deceased, he included the time that had elapsed since he assumed the sackcloth and girdle.

The master, presiding at the mourning rites for a concubine, himself conducted the placing of her tablet (in its proper shrine). At the sacrifices at the end of the first and second years, he employed her son to preside at them. The sacrifice at her offering did not take place in the principal apartment.

A ruler did not stroke the corpse of a servant or a concubine.

Even after the wife of a ruler was dead, the concubines (of the harem) wore mourning for her relatives. If one of them took her place (and acted as mistress of the establishment), she did not wear mourning for the relatives.

If one heard of the mourning rites for a cousin for whom he had to wear mourning for nine months or more, when he looked in the direction of the place where those rites were going on, he wailed. If he were going to accompany the funeral to the grave, but did not get to the house in time, though he met the presiding mourner returning, he himself went on to the grave. The president at the mourning rites for a cousin, though the relationship might not have been near, also presented the sacrifice of Repose.

On all occasions of mourning, if, before the mourning robes had all been completed, any one arrived to offer condolences, (the president) took the proper place, wailed, bowed to the visitor, and leaped.

At the wailing for a Great officer, another of the same rank, wore the conical cap, with a sackcloth band round it. He wore the same also when engaged with the coffining. If he had on the cap of dolichos-cloth in mourning for his own wife or son, and were called away to the lighter mourning for a distant relative, he put on the conical cap and band.

(In wailing for) an eldest son, he carried a staff, but not for that son's son; he went without it to the place of wailing. (An eldest son), going to wail for his wife, if his parents were alive, did not carry a staff, nor bow so as to lay his forehead on the ground. If (only) his mother were alive, he did not lay his forehead to the ground. Where such a prostration should have taken place, as in the case of one who brought a gift with his condolence, an ordinary bow was made.

(An officer) who had left a feudal prince and gone into the service of a Great officer did not on the lord's death return and wear mourning for him; nor did one who had left a Great officer to serve a prince, return to mourn on the death of the former.

The strings of the mourning cap served to distinguish it from one used on a festive occasion. The silk cap worn after a year's mourning, and belonging to that for three years, had such strings, and the seam of it was on the right. That worn in the mourning of five months, and a still shorter time, was seamed on the left. The cap of the shortest mourning had a tassel of reddish silk. The ends of the girdle in the mourning of nine months and upward hung loose.

Court robes were made with fifteen skeins (1200 threads) in the warp. Half that number made the coarse cloth for the shortest mourning, which then was glazed by being steeped with ashes.

In sending presents to one another for the use of the dead, the princes of the states sent their carriages of the second class with caps and robes. They did not send their carriages of the first class, nor the robes which they had themselves received (from the king).

The number of (small) carriages sent (to the grave) was according to that of the parcels of flesh to be Conveyed. Each one had a pall of coarse cloth. All round were ornamental figures. These parcels were placed at the four corners of the coffin. (Sometimes) rice was sent, but You-zi said that such an offering was contrary to rule. The food put down (by the dead) in mourning was only dried meat and pickled.

At the sacrifices (after the sacrifice of Repose), the mourner styled himself 'The filial son,' or 'The filial grandson;' at the previous rites, 'The grieving son,' or 'The grieving grandson.'

In the square upper garment of the mourner and the sackcloth over it, and in the carriage in which he rode to the grave, there was no difference of degree.

The white cap of high (antiquity) and the cap of black cloth were both without any ornamental fringe. The azure-coloured and that of white silk with turned-up rim had such a fringe.

A Great officer wore the cap with the square top when assisting at a sacrifice of his ruler; but that of skin when sacrificing at his own shrines. An ordinary officer used the latter in his ruler's temple, and the cap (of dark cloth) in his own. As an officer wore the skin cap, when going in person to meet his bride, he might also use it at his own shrines.

The mortar for the fragrant herbs, in making sacrificial spirits, was made of cypress wood, and the pestle of dryandria. The ladle (for lifting out the flesh) was of mulberry wood, three, some say five, cubits long. The scoop used in addition was of mulberry, three cubits long, with its handle and end carved.

The girdle over the shroud used for a prince or a Great officer was of five colours; that used for another officer, only of two.

The must (put into the grave) was made from the malt of rice. There were the jars (for it and other liquids), the baskets (for the millet), and the boxes (in which these were placed). These were placed outside the covering of the coffin; and then the tray for the mats was put in.

The spirit-tablet (which had been set up over the coffin) was buried after the sacrifice of Repose.

(The mourning rites for) all wives were according to the rank of their husbands.

(Visitors who had arrived) during the slighter dressing of the corpse, the more complete dressing, or the opening (the enclosure where the coffin was), were all saluted and bowed to (after these operations were finished).

At the wailing morning and evening, (the coffin) was not screened from view. When the bier had been removed, the curtain was no more suspended.

When the ruler came to condole, after the carriage with its coffin (had reached the gate of the temple), the presiding mourner bowed towards him with his face towards the east, and moving to the right of the gate, leaped there, with his face towards the north. Going outside, he waited till the ruler took his departure and bade him go back, after which he put down (by the bier the gifts which the ruler had brought).

When Zi-gao was fully dressed after his death, first, there were the upper and lower garments both wadded with floss silk, and over them a suit of black with a purple border below; next, there was a. suit of white made square and straight, (the suit belonging to) the skin cap; next, that belonging to the skin cap like the colour of a sparrow's head; and next, (that belonging to) the dark-coloured cap, with the square top. Zeng-zi said, 'In such a dressing there should be nothing of woman's dress.'

When an officer died on some commission, upon which he had gone for his ruler, if the death took place in a public hotel, they called his soul back; if in a private hotel, they did not do so. By a public hotel was meant a ruler's palace, or some other building, erected by him, and by a private hotel, the house of a noble, a Great officer, or an officer below that rank.

(On the death of) a ruler, there is the leaping for him for seven days in succession; and on that of a Great officer, it lasts for five days. The women take their share in this expression of grief at intervals, between the presiding mourner and his visitors. On the death of an ordinary officer, it lasts for three days; the women taking their part in the same way.

In dressing the corpse of a ruler, there is first put on it the upper robe with the dragon; next, a dark-coloured square-cut suit; next, his court-robes; next, the white lower garment with gathers; next, a purple-coloured lower garment; next, a sparrow-head skin cap; next, the dark-coloured cap with the square top; next, the robe given on his first investiture; next, a girdle of red and green; over which was laid out the great girdle.

At the slight dressing of the corpse the son (or the presiding mourner) wore the band of sackcloth about his head. Rulers, Great officers, and ordinary officers agreed in this.

When the ruler came to see the great dressing of the corpse, as he was ascending to the hall, the Shang priest spread the mat (afresh), and proceeded to the dressing.

The gifts (for the dead, and to be placed in the grave), contributed by the people of Lu, consisted of three rolls of dark-coloured silk, and two of light red, but they were (only) a cubit in width, and completing the length of (one) roll.

When one came (from another ruler) with a message of condolence, he took his place outside, on the west of the gate, with his face to the east. The chief officer attending him was on the south-east of him, with his face to the north, inclining to the west, and west from the gate. The orphan mourner, with his face to the west, gave his instructions to the officer waiting on him, who then went to the visitor and said, 'My orphaned master has sent me to ask why you have given yourself this trouble,' to which the visitor replies, 'Our ruler has sent me to ask for your master in his trouble.' With this reply the officer returned to the mourner and reported it, returning and saying, 'My orphaned master is waiting for you.' On this the visitor advanced. The mourning host then went up to the reception hall by the steps on the east, and the visitor by those on the west. The latter, with his face to the east, communicated his message, saying, 'Our ruler has heard of the bereavement you have sustained, and has sent me to ask for you in your sorrows.' The mourning son then bowed to him, kneeling with his forehead to the ground. The messenger then descended the steps, and returned to his place.

The attendant charged with the jade for the mouth of the deceased, and holding it in his hands flat round piece of jade communicated his instructions, saying, 'Our ruler has sent me with the gem for the mouth.' The officer in waiting went in and reported the message, then returning and saying, 'Our orphaned master is waiting for you.' The bearer of the gem then advanced, ascended the steps, and communicated his message. The son bowed to him, with his forehead to the ground. The bearer then knelt, and placed the gem on the south-east of the coffin, upon a phragmites mat; but if the interment had taken place, on a typha mat. After this, he descended the steps, and returned to his place, The major-domo, in his court robes, but still wearing his mourning shoes, then ascended the western steps, and kneeling with his face to the west, took up the piece of jade, and descending by the same steps, went towards the east (to deposit it in the proper place).

The officer charged with the grave-clothes said, 'Our ruler has sent me with the grave-clothes.' The officer in waiting, having gone in and reported, returned and said, 'Our orphaned master is waiting for you.' Then the other took up first the cap with the square top and robes, with his left hand holding the neck of the upper garment, and with his right the waist. He advanced, went up to the hall, and communicated his message, saying, 'Our ruler has sent me with the grave-clothes.' The son bowed to him, with his forehead to the ground; and when the bearer laid down the things on the east of the coffin, he then went down, and received the skin cap of the sparrow's-head colour, with the clothes belonging to it inside the gate, under the eaves. These he presented with the same forms; then the skin cap and clothes which he received in the middle of the courtyard; then the court robes; then the dark-coloured, square-cut garments, which he received at the foot of the steps on the west. When all these presentations were made, five men from the department of the major-domo took the things up, and going down the steps on the west, went away with them to the-east. They all took them up with their faces towards the west.

The chief of the attendants (of the messenger) had charge of the carriage and horses, and with a long symbol of jade in his hand communicated his message, saying, 'Our ruler has sent me to present the carriage and horses.' The officer in waiting went in and informed the presiding mourner, and returned with the message, 'The orphan, so and so, is waiting for you.' The attendant then had the team of yellow horses and the grand carriage exhibited in the central courtyard, with the front to the north; and with the symbol in hand he communicated his message. His grooms were all below, on the west of the carriage. The son bowed to him, with his forehead to the ground. He then knelt, and placed his symbol in the corner, on the southeast of the coffin. The major-domo then took the symbol up, and proceeded with it to the east.

The message was always delivered with the face turned towards the coffin, and the son always bowed to the attendant charged with it, with his forehead down to the ground. The attendant then knelt with his face to the west, and deposited his gift (or its representative). The major-domo and his employees ascended by the steps on the west to take these up, and did so with their faces towards the west, descending (again) by the same steps. The attendant charged with the carriage and horses went out, and returned to his place outside the gate.

The chief visitor then, (wishing) to perform the ceremony of wailing, said, 'My ruler, being engaged in the services of his own ancestral temple, could not come and take part in your rites, and has sent me, so and so, his old servant, to assist in holding the rope.' The officer in waiting (reported his request), and returned with the message, 'The orphan, so and so, is waiting for you.' The messenger then entered and took his place on the right of the gate. His attendants all followed him, and stood on his left, on the east. The superintendent of ceremonies introduced the visitor, and went up on the hall, and received his ruler's instructions, then descending and saying, ' The orphan ventures to decline the honour which you propose, and begs you to return to your place.' The messenger, however, replied. 'My ruler charged me that I should not demean myself as a visitor or guest, and I venture to decline doing as you request.' The other then reported this reply, and returned, and told the messenger that the orphan firmly declined the honour which he proposed, and repeated the request that he would return to his place. The messenger repeated his reply, saying that he also firmly declined (to return to his place). The same message from the mourner was repeated, and the same reply to it, (after which) the mourner said, 'Since he thus firmly declines what I request, I will venture respectfully to comply with his wish.'

The messenger then stood on the west of the gate, and his attendants on his left, facing the west. The orphaned mourner descended by the steps on the east, and bowed to him, after which they both ascended and wailed, each of them leaping three times in response to each other. The messenger then went out, escorted by the mourner outside of the gate, who then bowed to him, with his forehead down to the ground.

When the ruler of a state had mourning rites in hand for a parent, (any officer who was mourning for a parent) did not dare to receive visits of condolence (from another state).

The female relatives of the exterior kept in their apartments; the servants spread the mats; the officer of prayer, who used the Shang forms, spread out the girdle, sash, and upper coverings; the officers washed their hands, standing on the north of the vessel; they then removed the corpse to the place where it was to be dressed. When the dressing was finished, the major-domo reported it. The son then leant on the coffin and leaped. The wife with her face to the east, also leant on it, kneeling; and then she got up and leaped.

There are three things in the mourning rites for an officer which agree with those used on the death of the son of Heaven - the torches kept burning all night (when the coffin is to be conveyed to the grave); the employment of men to draw the carriage; and the keeping of the road free from all travellers on it.

Source: Chinese Text Project English translation "Sacred Books of the East, volume 28, part 4: The Li Ki", James Legge, 1885

Vocabulary Analysis

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