What is the reason that the headband worn with the frayed sackcloth, for a father, must be made of the fibres of the female plant? Those fibres have an unpleasant appearance, and serve to show outwardly the internal distress. The appearance of (the mourners), wearing the sackcloth for a father with its jagged edges, corresponds to those fibres. That of one wearing the sackcloth for a mother with its even edges, corresponds to the fibres of the male plant. That of one wearing the mourning of nine months looks as if (the ebullitions of sorrow) had ceased. For one wearing the mourning of five months or of three, his (ordinary) appearance is suitable. These are the manifestations of sorrow in the bodily appearance.
The wailing of one wearing the sackcloth for his father seems to go forth in one unbroken strain; that of one wearing the sackcloth for a mother is now and then broken; in the mourning of nine months, after the first burst there are three quavers in it, and then it seems to die away; in the mourning of five and three months, an ordinary wailing is sufficient. These are the manifestations of sorrow in the modulations of the voice.
When wearing the sackcloth for a father, one indicates that he hears what is said to him, but does not reply in words; when wearing that for a mother, he replies, but does not speak of anything else. During the nine months' mourning, he may speak of other things, but not discuss them; during that for five months or three months, he may discuss other things, but does not show pleasure in doing so. These are the manifestations of sorrow in speech.
When a mourner has assumed the sackcloth for a father, for three days he abstains from food; for a mother, for two days. When he has commenced the nine months' mourning, he abstains from three meals; in that of five months or of three, for two. When an ordinary officer takes part in the dressing (of a friend's corpse), he abstains from one meal. Hence at the mourning rites for a father or mother, when the coffining takes place, (the children) take gruel made of a handful of rice in the morning, and the same quantity in the evening. During all the rites for a mother, they eat coarse rice, and drink only water, not touching vegetables or fruits. During the nine months' mourning (the mourners) do not eat pickles of sauces; during that of five months or three, they do not drink. prepared liquor, either new or old. These are the manifestations of sorrow in drinking and eating.
In the mourning rites for a parent, when the sacrifice of repose has been presented, and the wailing is at an end, (the mourners) eat coarse rice and drink water, but do not take vegetables or fruits. At the end of a year, when the smaller felicitous sacrifice has been offered, they eat vegetables and fruits. After another year, when the greater sacrifice has been offered, they take pickles and sauces. In the month after, the final mourning sacrifice is offered, after which they drink the must and spirits. When they begin to drink these, they first use the must; when they begin to eat flesh, they first take that which has been dried.
During the mourning rites for a parent, (the son) occupied the mourning shed, and slept on straw with a clod for his pillow, without taking off the headband or girdle. If they were for a mother (only, and the father were still alive), be occupied the unplastered chamber, (sleeping on) typha rushes with their tops cutoff, but not woven together. During the mourning for nine months, there was a mat to sleep on. In that for five months or for three, it was allowed to use a bedstead. These were the manifestations of sorrow given in the dwelling-places.
At the mourning rites for a parent, after the sacrifice of repose, and when the wailing was concluded, the (inclined) posts of the shed were set up on lintels, and the screen (of grass) was clipped, while typha rushes, with the tops cut off, but not woven together, (were laid down for a mat). At the end of a year, and when the smaller felicitous sacrifice had been offered, (the son) occupied the unplastered chamber, and had a mat to sleep on. After another year, and when the greater felicitous sacrifice had been offered, he returned to his old sleeping apartment. Then, when the final mourning sacrifice was offered, he used a bedstead.
The mourning with jagged edges was made with 3 sheng of hempen threads, each sheng containing 81 threads; that with even edge, with 4, 5, or 6 sheng; that for the nine months' mourning with 7, 8, or 9 sheng; that for the five months, with 10, 11, or 12 sheng; that for the three months, with 15 sheng less the half. When the thread was manipulated and boiled, no such operation was performed on the woven cloth, and it was called sze (or the material for the mourning of three months). These were the manifestations of sorrow shown in the fabrics of the different mournings.
The sackcloth with jagged edges (worn at first) was made with 3 sheng, but after the sacrifice of repose when the wailing was over, this was exchanged for a different fabric made with 6 sheng, while the material for the cap was made with 7 sheng. The coarse sackcloth for a mother was made with 4 sheng, exchanged for a material made with 7 sheng, while the cap was made with one of 8 sheng. When the hempen dress is put away (after the burial), grass-cloth is worn, the sash of it being made of triple twist. At the end of the year, and when the first felicitous sacrifice has been offered, (the son) pas on the cap of dyed silk proper to that sacrifice, and the red collar, still retaining the sash and headband. A son begins at the head, and a woman with the girdle. Why does the son begin at the head, and why does a woman begin with the girdle? Because a man considers the head the most important to him, and a woman the waist. In laying aside the mourning, they began with the most important; in changing it, with what was least. At the end of the second year, and when the greater felicitous sacrifice had been offered, the cap and dress of plain hempen cloth was assumed. After the concluding sacrifice of mourning, in the next month, the black cap and silk of black and white were put on, and all the appendages of the girdle were assumed.
Why is it that in changing the mourning they (first) changed what was the lightest? During the wearing of the sackcloth with jagged edges for a father, if when, after the sacrifice of repose and the end of the wailing, there came occasion to wear the even-edged sackcloth for a mother, that, as lighter, was considered to be embraced in the other, and that which was most important was retained. After the sacrifice at the end of the year, when there occurred occasion for the mourning rites of nine months, both the sackcloth and grass-cloth bands were worn. During the wearing of the sackcloth for a mother, when, after the sacrifice of repose and the end of the wailing, there came occasion to wear the mourning for nine months, the sackcloth and grasscloth bands were worn together. The grass-cloth band with the jagged-edged sackcloth and the hempen band with the even-edged sackcloth were of the same value. The grass-cloth with the even-edged sackcloth and the hempen band of the nine months' mourning were of the same value. The grass-cloth with the nine months' mourning and the hempen band with that of five months were of the same value. The grass-cloth with the five months' mourning and the hempen with that of three months were of the same value. So they wore them together. When they did so, that which was the lighter was changed first.
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