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The Book of Rites 《禮記》

《奔喪》 Rules on Hurrying to the Mourning Rites

奔喪》 Rules on Hurrying to the Mourning Rites

奔喪使者夜行父母而後
According to the rules for hurrying to attend the mourning rites, when one first heard that the mourning rites for a relative were going on, he wailed as he answered the messenger, and gave full vent to his sorrow. Having asked all the particulars, he wailed again, with a similar burst of grief, and immediately arranged to go (to the place). He went 100 li a day, not travelling in the night. Only when the rites were those for a father or a mother did he travel while he could yet see the stars, and rested when he (again) saw them. If it was impossible for him to go (at once), he assumed the mourning dress, and then went (as soon as he could). When he had passed through be state (where he was), and reached its frontier, he stopped and wailed, giving full vent to his sorrow. He avoided wailing in the market-place and when near the court. He looked towards the frontier of his own state when he wailed.

至於入門西西面即位西鄉主人兄弟出門出門相者
When he came to the house, he entered the gate at the left side of it, (passed through the court), and ascended to the hall by the steps on the west. He knelt on the east of the coffin, with his face to the west, and wailed, giving full vent to his grief. He (then) tied up his hair in a knot, bared his arms, and went down from the hall, proceeding to his place on the east, where he wailed towards the west. Having completed the leaping, he covered his arms and put on his sash of sackcloth in the corridor on the east; and after tucking up the ends of his sash, he returned to his place. He bowed to the visitors, leaping with them, and escorted them (to the gate), returning (afterwards) to his place. When other visitors arrived, he bowed to them, leaped with them, and escorted them - all in the same way. (After this), all the principal mourners, with their cousins, went out at the gate, stopping there while they wailed. The gate was then closed, and the director told them to go to the mourning shed.


At the next wailing, the day after, they tied up their hair, bared their arms, and went through the leaping. At the third wailing next day, they again tied up their hair, bared their arms, and went through the leaping. On these three days, the finishing the mourning dress, bowing to and escorting the visitors, took place as in the first case.

奔喪主人主人
If he who has hurried to be present at the rites were not the presiding mourner on the occasion, then that presiding mourner, instead of him, bowed to the visitors and escorted them.

奔喪以下入門中庭北面即位主人主人丈夫婦人朝夕
When one hurried to the rites, even where they were less than those for a mother or father, which required the wearing of sackcloth, with even edge or frayed, he entered the gate at the left side of it, and stood in the middle of the court-yard with his face to the north, wailing and giving full vent to his sorrow. He put on the cincture for the head and the sackcloth girdle in the corridor on the east, and repaired to his place, where he bared his arms. Then he wailed along with the presiding mourner, and went through the leaping. For the wailing on the second day and the third, they wore the cincture and bared the arms. If there were visitors, the presiding mourner bowed to them on their arrival, and escorted them. The husbands and wives (of the family) waited for him at the wailing-places for every morning and evening, without making any change.

西面即位西鄉
When one hurries to the mourning rites for a mother, he wails with his face to the west, giving full vent to his sorrow. He then ties up his hair, bares his arms, descends from the hall, and goes to his station on the east, where, with his face to the west, he wails and goes through the leaping. After that, he covers his arms and puts on the cincture and sash in the corridor on the east. He bows to the visitors, and escorts them (to the gate) in the same way as if he had hurried to the rites for his father. At the wailing on the day after, he does not tie up his hair.

婦人奔喪西面即位主人
When a wife hurried to the mourning rites, she went up to the hall by the (side) steps on the east, and knelt on the east of the coffin with, her face to the west. There she wailed, giving full vent to her grief. Having put on the lower cincture on the east, she went to the station (for wailing), and there leaped alternately with the presiding mourner.

奔喪不及北面主人即位婦人主人相者入門北面即位主人主人兄弟出門出門相者相者
When one, hurrying to the mourning rites, did not arrive while the coffin with the body was still in the house, he first went to the grave; and there kneeling with his face to the north, he wailed, giving full vent to his sorrow. The principal mourners have been waiting for him (at the grave), and have taken their stations - the men on the left of it, and the wives on the right. Having gone through the leaping, and given full expression to his sorrow, he tied up his hair, and went to the station of the principal mourners on the east. In his headband of sackcloth, and sash with the ends tucked up, he wailed and went through the leaping. He then bowed to the visitors, and returned to his station, going (again) through the leaping, after which the director announced that the business was over. He then put on the cap, and returned to the house. There he entered at the left side of the door, and, with his face to the north, wailed and gave full vent to his sorrow. He then tied up his hair, bared his arms, and went through the leaping. Going to his station on the east, he bowed to the visitors, and went through the leaping. When the visitors went out, the presiding mourner bowed to them, and escorted them. When other visitors afterwards arrived, he bowed to them, went through the leaping, and escorted them in the same way. All the principal mourners and their cousins went out at the gate, wailed there and stopped, when the directors instructed them to go to the shed. At the wailing next day, he bound up his hair and went through the leaping. At the third wailing, he did the same. On the third day he completed his mourning dress (as was required). After the fifth wailing, the director announced that the business was over.

所以其餘
Wherein the usages at the rites for a mother differed from those at the rites for a father, was that there was but one tying up of the hair. After that the cincture was worn to the end of the business. In other respects the usages were the same as at the rites for a father.

以下不及西面東方即位主人主人相者入門北面即位主人相者
At the rites for other relations, after those for the mother or father, the mourner who did not arrive while the coffin was in the house, first went to the grave, and there wailed with his face to the west, giving full vent to his sorrow. He then put on the cincture and hempen sash, and went to his station on the east, where he wailed with the presiding mourner, and went through the leaping. After this he covered his arms; and if there were visitors, the presiding mourner bowed to them and escorted them away. If any other visitors afterwards came, he bowed to them, as in the former case, and the director announced that the business was over. Immediately after he put on the cap, and returned to the house. Entering at the left side of the door, he wailed with his face to the north, giving full vent to his sorrow. He then put on the cincture, bared his arms, and went through the leaping. Going then to the station on the east, he bowed to the visitors, and went through the leaping again. When the visitors went out, the presiding mourner bowed to them and escorted them. At the wailing next day, he wore the cincture, bared his arms, and went through the leaping. At the third wailing he did the same. On the third day, he put on his mourning-garb; and at the fifth wailing, the director announced that the business was over.

不得奔喪即位主人門外
When one heard of the mourning rites, and it was impossible (in his circumstances) to hurry to be present at them, he wailed and gave full vent to his grief. He then asked the particulars, and (on hearing them) wailed again, and gave full vent to his grief. He then made a place (for his mourning) .where he was, tied up his hair, bared his arms, and went through the leaping. Having covered his arms, and put on the higher cincture and his sash with the ends tucked up, he went (back) to his place. After bowing to (any visitors that arrived), he returned to the place, and went through the leaping. When the visitors went out, he, as the presiding mourner, bowed to them, and escorted them outside the gate, returning then to his station. If any other visitors came afterwards, he bowed to them and went through the leaping, then escorting them as before. At the wailing next day, he tied up his hair, bared his arms, and went through the leaping. At the third wailing he did the same. On the third day, he put on his mourning-garb, wailed, bowed to his visitors, and escorted them as before.

而後主人
If one returned home after the mourning rites had been completed, he went to the grave, and there wailed and went through the leaping. On the east of it, he tied up his hair, bared his arms, put on the cincture for the head, bowed to the visitors, and went (again) through the leaping. Having escorted the visitors, he returned to his place, and again wailed, giving full vent to his grief With this he put off his mourning. In the house he did not wail. The principal mourner, in his treatment of him, made no change in his dress; and though he wailed with him (at the grave), he did not leap.

以下所以
Wherein at other observances than those for the death of a mother or father, the usages (of such a mourner) differed from the above, were in the cincture for the head and the hempen sash.

以下即位即位相者主人主人兄弟出門相者
In all cases where one made a place for his mourning (away from home), if it were not on occasion of the death of a parent, but for some relative of the classes not so nearly related, he went to the station, and wailed, giving full vent to his sorrow. Having put on the cincture for the head and the girdle on the east, he came back to the station, bared his arms, and went through the leaping. He then covered his arms, bowed to the visitors, went back to the station, wailed, and went through the leaping. (After this), he escorted the guests away, and came back to the station, when the director told him to go to the shed. When the fifth wailing was ended, on the third day, the presiding mourner came forth and escorted the visitors away. All the principal mourners and their cousins went out at the gate, wailed, and stopped there. The director announced to them that the business was ended. He put on his full mourning-garb, and bowed to the visitors.

所為
If the home were far distant from the place which an absent mourner has selected (for his wailing), they completed all their arrangements about dress before they went to it.

大功小功即位
One hurrying to mourning rites, if they were for a parent, wailed when he looked towards the district (where they had lived); if they were for a relation for whom nine months' mourning was due, he wailed when he could see the gate of his house; if for one to whom five months' mourning was due, he wailed when he got to the door; if for one to whom but three months' mourning was due, he wailed when he took his station.

門外朋友門外
For one of his father's relations (for whom he did not need to go into mourning) a man wailed in the ancestral temple; for one of his mother or wife's relatives, in the back chamber of the temple; for his teacher, outside the gate of the temple; for a friend, outside the door of the back-chamber; for an acquaintance, in the open country, having pitched a tent for the occasion. Some say the wailing for a mother's relation was in the temple.


In all cases where a station was selected, away from the house of mourning, for paying funeral rites, no offerings were put down (for the departed).

天子諸侯大夫
For the son of Heaven they wailed nine days; for a feudal prince, seven; for a high minister and Great officer, five; for another officer, three.

大夫諸侯
A Great officer, in wailing for the ruler of his state, did not presume to bow to the visitors.


Ministers in other states, when they selected a station (for their wailing), did not presume to bow to the visitors.

諸侯兄弟
Officers, of the same surname with a feudal prince, (but who were serving in other states), also made a place at which to wail for him (on his death).


In all cases where one made a place (at a distance) at which to wail, he bared his arms (only) once.

而後主人北面
In condoling with (the relations of) an acquaintance (after he has been buried), one first wailed in his house, and afterwards went to the grave, in both cases accompanying the wailing with the leaping. He alternated his leaping with that of the presiding mourner, keeping his face towards the north.

為主兄弟同居長者不同
At all mourning rites (in a household), if the father were alive, he acted as presiding mourner; if he were dead, and brothers lived together in the house, each presided at the mourning for one of his own family-circle. If two brothers were equally related to the deceased for whom rites were necessary, the eldest presided at those rites; if they were not equally related, the one most nearly so presided.

兄弟而後左手
When one heard of the death of a brother or cousin at a distance, but the news did not arrive till the time which his own mourning for him would have taken had expired, he (notwithstanding) put on the mourning cincture, bared his arms, and went through the leaping. He bowed to his visitors, however, with the left hand uppermost.

婦人
The only case in which a place was chosen in which to wail for one for whom mourning was not worn, was the death of a sister-in-law, the wife of an elder brother. For a female member of the family who had married, and for whom therefore mourning was not worn, the hempen sash was assumed.

奔喪大夫而後而後
When one had hurried to the mourning rites, and a Great officer came (to condole with him), he bared his arms, and bowed to him. When he had gone through the leaping, he covered his arms. In the case of a similar visit from an ordinary officer, he covered his arms, and then bowed to him.

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

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