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Sacred books of China: The texts of



[27] a



Oxford University Press Warehouse
Amen Corner, E.C.









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THE Lt A' I, I— X


[ All rights reserved ]







Three different Li King, or Ritual Books, acknow-
ledged in China. The recovery of the first two,
and formation of the third, under the han

How Confucius spoke of the Li. How Mencius spoke of
them. Now there are three Li King or three Rituals. State of
the Li books at the rise of the Han dynasty. Work of the
emperors of Han in recovering the ancient books, i. Recovery
of the 1 Li. ii. King Hsien of Ho-yfien, and his recovery of
the Kau Li. iii. Formation of the Li K\. Council of B.C. 51.
Condition in B.C. 26. Hau 3hang and the two Tais. Ma
Yung and Aang Hsiian. 3hai Yung and his manusculpt. Li of
the Greater Tai.

II. Significance of the Chinese character called Li.

Meaning of the title Li Kl. Value of the Work .

Li is a symbol of religious import, and a symbol for the feeling
of propriety. Translation of the title. The value of the
Li fd. The Li ATi as one of the five King.

III. Brief Notices of the different Books which make

up the Collection

1. KM\ Li .

2. Than Kung

3. Wang ATih

4. Yiieh Ling

5. 3ang-jze Wan

6. Wan Wang Shih-jze

7. Li Yun .

8. Li Khx .

9. ATiao Theh Sang
10. Nei 3eh .









11. Yu3ao .... 27

12. Ming Thang Wei 28

13. Sang FQ Hsiao K\ . . ... 30

14. Ta £\van . 3°

15. Shao t 3 1

16. Hsio £1 32

17. Yon . . 32

18. 3a Ki .... 34

19. SangTaKl 34

20. Ka Fa 35

21. Kit 36

22. K\ Thung 37

23. ATing iTieh .... ... 38

24. Ai Kung Wan 39

25. isTung-m Yen Kn ... 40

26. Khung-^ze Hsien Kii . . 4 1

27. Fang K\ -41

28. /(Tung Yung 42

29. Piao K\ -44

30. 3ze I -45

31. Pan Sang 46

32. Wan Sang 47

33. Fu Wan . . 4§

34. Kien Kwan . . 4$

35. San Nien Wan 49

36. Shan 1 -5°

37. Thau Hu 5°

38. ZQHsing 5 1

39. Ta Hsio 53

40. Kwan 1 54

41. Hwan I .......... 55

42. Hsiang Yin ATiu t 56

43. She f 56

44. Yen I 57

45. Phing t 58

46. Sang Fu Sze Kih 59


I. Khu LI or Summary of the Rules of Propriety.

Section I.

Part I 61

„ II . ... .67

„ III • • 73

,. IV 83

„ V . . . . . . 90


Section II.

Part I .

„ II • • •
„ III . . .

II. The Than Rung.

Section I.










Section II.

„ III . . .

Appendix to Book II
Plates I-VI after page 208.

III. The Royal Regulations.

Section I








Yueh Ling or Proceedings of Governmen
different Months.

Section I.

Part I





Part I .
„ II . . .
„ III . . .

Supplementary Section

Section II.

Section III.









Part I 283

„ II 286

„ HI 291

Section IX.

Part I 296

„ H 301

„ HI 306



V. The Questions of 3ang-jze.

Section I 3 11

» II 328

VI. Wan Wang Shih-jze or King Wan as Son and Heir.
Section I 343

„ II - 353

VII. The Li Yun or Ceremonial Usages ;— their Origin,

Development, and Intention.

Section I 364

„ II . . . 372

III 38o

„ iv 385

VIII. The LI Kh\ or Rites in the Formation of Character.

Section I 394

„ II 404

IX. The Kiko Theh Sang or the Single Victim at the

Border Sacrifices.

Section I 416

„ II 426

„ III 437

X. The Nei 3eh or the Pattern of the Family.

Section I 449

„ II 464

Transliteration of Oriental Alphabets adopted for the Trans-
lations of the Sacred Books of the East . . . .481


I MAY be permitted to express my satisfaction that, with
the two volumes of the Li K\ now published, I have done,
so far as translation is concerned, all and more than all
which I undertook to do on the Chinese Classics more than
twenty-five years ago. When the first volume was pub-
lished in 1861, my friend, the late Stanislas Julien, wrote to
me, asking if I had duly considered the voluminousness of
the Li K\, and expressing his doubts whether I should be
able to complete my undertaking. Having begun the task,
however, I have pursued it to the end, working on with some
unavoidable interruptions, and amidst not a few other

The present is the first translation that has been published
in any European language of the whole of the Li K\. In
1853 the late J. M. Callery published at the Imprimerie
Royale, Turin, what he called 'Li Ki, ou Memorial des
Rites, traduit pour la premiere fois du Chinois, et accom-
pagne de Notes, de Commentaires, et du Texte Original.'
But in fact the text which P. Callery adopted was only an
expurgated edition, published by Fan 3ze-tang, a scholar
of the Yuan dynasty, as commented on and annotated by
A"au K'xh, whose well-known work appeared in 171 1, the
50th year of the Khang-hsi reign or period 1 . Callery has
himself called attention to this in his introduction, and it is
to be regretted that he did not indicate it in the title-
page of his book. Fan's text omits entirely the 5th, 12th,
13th, 19th, 28th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th, 37th, and
39th Books in my translation, while of most of the others,

' The Si IE f I si A £. O* S^' for which Callery gives ~

; Combinaison des Commentaires Ta Tsiien (le Grand Complet) et Chu (l'expli-
cation), d'apres le sens original du Memorial des rites.' Aau A'ih (yJJJ jw&)
has the alias of Aau Tan-lin (Q M(\.


' a good third ' has been expurgated. I do not think that
Callery's version contains above one half of the Li K\, as
it is found in the great editions of the Thang and present
dynasties. The latter of these was commanded in an
imperial rescript in 1748, the 13th year of the AVnen-lung
period. The committee charged with its execution con-
sisted of 85 dignitaries and scholars, who used the previous
labours of 244 authors, besides adding, on many of the
most difficult passages, their own remarks and decisions,
which are generally very valuable.

My own version is based on a study of these two im-
perial collections, and on an extensive compilation, made
specially for my use by my Chinese friend and former
helper, the graduate Wang Thao, gathered mostly from
more recent writers of the last 250 years. The AV/ien-lung
editors make frequent reference to the work of K/ia.n Hao,
which appeared in 1322 under the modest title of, ' A
Collection of Remarks on the Li ATI 1 .' This acquired so
great a celebrity under the Ming dynasty, that, as Callery
tells us, an edict was issued in 1403 appointing it the
standard for the interpretation of the Classic at the public
examinations ; and this pre-eminence was accorded to it
on to the K/iien-lung period. The whole of the Li K\ is
given and expounded by K/tan, excepting the 28th and
39th Books, which had long been current as portions of 'The
Four Books.' I may say that I have read over and over,
and with much benefit, every sentence in his comments.
Forming my own judgment on every passage, now agreeing
with him and now differing, and frequently finding reason
to attach a higher value to the views of the AT/zien-lung
editors, I must say that ' he deserves well ' of the Li K\.
His volumes are characterised by a painstaking study of
the original text, and an honest attempt to exhibit the
logical connexion of thought in its several parts.

1 ftja. HE ^H 1>L' The author has the aliases for Hao of Kho Ta

(^f JZ)> Yiin ^ wan S (# $£)• and Tun S H "i OH |S) J the last,
I suppose, from his having lived near the lake so called.


P. Callery's translation of his expurgated text is for the
most part well executed, and his notes, of which I have
often made use, are admirable. I have also enjoyed the
benefit of the more recent work, ' Curs us Litteraturae
Sinicae,'by P. Angelo Zottoli, in whom the scholarship of
the earlier Jesuit missionaries has revived. In his third
volume, published at Shang-hai in 1880, there are good
translations of the 1st, 5th, 10th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd
Books ; while the 28th and 39th are in his second volume.
In the Latin which he employs, according to the traditions
of his church and what is still a practice of some scholars,
he is able to be more brief in his renderings than Caller}'
and myself, but perhaps not so satisfactory to readers
generally. I also referred occasionally to Signor Carlo
Puini's ' Li-Ki : Instituzioni. Usi e Costumanze della Cina
antica ; Traduzione, Commento e Note (Fascicolo Primo ;
Firenze, 1883).'

The present translation is, as I said above, the first pub-
lished in any European language of the whole of the Li K\ ;
but another had existed in manuscript for several years, —
the work of Mr. Alexander Wylie, now unhappily, by loss
of eye-sight and otherwise failing health, laid aside from his
important Chinese labours. I was fortunate enough to
obtain possession of this when I had got to the 35th Book
in my own version, and, in carrying the sheets through
the press, I have constantly made reference to it. It was
written at an early period of Mr. Wylie's Chinese studies,
and is not such as a Sinologist of his attainments and
research would have produced later on. Still I have been
glad to have it by me, though I may venture to say that,
in construing the paragraphs and translating the cha-
racters, I have not been indebted in a single instance to
him or P. Callery. The first six Books, and portions of
several others, had been written out, more than once,
before I finally left China in 1873; but I began again at
the beginning, early in 1883, in preparing the present
version. I can hardly hope that, in translating so ex-
tensive and peculiar a work, descriptive of customs and


things at so remote a period of time, and without the
assistance of any Chinese graduate with whom I could
have talked over complicated and perplexing paragraphs,
I may not have fallen into some mistakes ; but I trust
they will be found to be very few. My simple and only
aim has been, first, to understand the text for myself,
and then to render it in English, fairly and as well as
I could in the time attain to, for my readers.


July 10, 1885.









Three different Li King, or Ritual Books, ac-
knowledged in China. The recovery of the
first two, and formation of the third,
under the Han Dynasty.

i. Confucius said, 'It is by the Odes that the mind is
aroused ; by the Rules of Propriety that the character is
How Confucius established ; from Music that the finish is
spoke of the Li. received 1 .'' On another occasion he said,
' Without the Rules of Propriety, respectfulness becomes
laborious bustle; carefulness, timidity; boldness, insubor-
dination ; and straightforwardness, rudeness 1 .'

These are two specimens of the manner in which Confu-
cius expressed himself about the Li, the Rules of Propriety
or Ceremonial Usages, recognised in his time. It is a
natural inference from his language that there were Collec-
tions of such Rules which could be read and studied ; but
he does not expressly say so.

The language of Mencius was more definite. In at least
two passages of his works we find the usual form of quota-
How Mencius tion Li Yueh, 'The Li says 2 ,' which, ac-
spoke of them. cort ji n g to the analogy of Shih Yueh, ' The
Shih King, or Book of Poetry, says,' might be rendered,

1 Confucian Analects, Book VIII, S and i.

2 Works of Mencius, II, Part ii, 2.5; III, Part ii, 3. 3.

[27] B

2 THE LI kL CH. I.

'The Li King says.' In another passage, he says to a Mr.
A"ing K/iun, ' Have you not read the Li 1 ?' It does not
appear that Mencius was always referring to one and the
same collection of Li ; but it is clear that in his time there
were one or more such collections current and well known
among his countrymen.

There are now three Chinese classics into which the name
_ T _, Li enters: — the I Li, the A'au Li, and the Li

Now there are

three Li King, K\, frequently styled, both by the Chinese
or three Rituals. themselves and by sinologists, 'The Three

Rituals 2 .' The first two are books of the A^au dynasty
(B.C. 1122-225). The third, of which a complete trans-
lation is given in the present work, may contain passages
of an earlier date than either of the others ; but as a collec-
tion in its present form, it does not go higher than the Han
dynasty, and was not completed till our second century. It
has, however, taken a higher position than those others, and
is ranked with the Shu, the Shih, the Yi, and the Khun
K/tiu, forming one of 'The Five King,' which are acknow-
ledged as the books of greatest authority in China. Other
considerations besides antiquity have given, we shall see,
its eminence to the Li K\.

2. The monuments of the ancient literature, with the
exception, perhaps, of the Yi King, were in a condition of
State of the Li disorder and incompleteness at the rise of the
b °of k the t Han riSe Han dynasty (B. C. 206). This was the case
dynasty. especially with the I Li and Kkw Li. They
had suffered, with the other books, from the fires and pro-
scription of the short-lived dynasty of Khin, the founder of
which was bent especially on their destruction 3 ; and during
the closing centuries of A"au, in all the period of 'The War-
ring Kingdoms,'" they had been variously mutilated by the
contending princes 4 .

1 Works of Mencius, III, ii, 2> 2.

2 See Wylie's Notes on Chinese Literature, p. 4, and Mayers' Chinese Reader's
Manual, p. 300.

3 Sze-ma. Alien's Biographies, Book 61 (fs|f JfiK T=y- )• P- 5 b . Other
testimonies to the fact could be adduced.

4 Mencius V, ii, 2. 2. See also the note of Liu Hsin, appended to his
catalogue of Li works, in the Imperial library of Han.



The sovereigns of Han undertook the task of gathering
Work of the up and arranging the fragments of the ancient

?e C cov S edn, H the books > and executed it well. In B.C. 213
ancient books. Shih Hwang Ti of KJivsx had promulgated
his edict forbidding any one to hide and keep in his posses-
sion the old writings. This was repealed in B. C. 191 by the
emperor Hui, so that it had been in existence only twenty-
two years, during most of which, we may presume, it had been
inoperative. Arrangements were also made to receive and
preserve old tablets which might be presented 1 , and to take
down in writing what scholars might be able to repeat. In
B. c. 164, the emperor Wan ordered 'the Great Scholars' of
his court to compile ' the Royal Ordinances,' the fifth of
the Books in our Li KV 1 .

i. Internal evidence shows that when this treatise was

Recovery of made, the 1 Li, or portions of it at least,
the 1 Li. h ac [ b een recovered ; and with this agrees the
testimony of Sze-ma K/nen, who was born perhaps in that
very year 3 , and lived to between B. c. 90 and 80. In the
61st Book of his Biographies, referred to in a note above,
K/nen says, ' Many of the scholars repeated (parts of) the
Li ; but no other of them so much as Kao Thang of Lu ;
and now we have only the Shih Li, which he was able to
recite.' In harmony with this statement of the great
historian, is the first entry in Liu Hsin's Catalogue of Li
books in the Imperial library of Han: — '56 £uan or
sections of Li in the old text, and 17 phi en in the (current)
text (of the time) ;' forming, as is universally believed, the
present 1 Li, for which the Shih Li of A7/ien is merely
another name.

That Kao Thang should have been able to dictate so much
of the work will not be thought wonderful by those who

1 Such was the ' Stone-Conduit Gallery,' which Mayers (Manual, p. 185)
describes as a building erected by Hsiao Ho at A7/ang-an for the reception of the
records of the extinct A7/in dynasty, about B.C. 200, adding that 'in B.C. 51, the
emperor Hsiian appointed a commission of scholars to assemble in this build-
ing, and complete the revision of the classical writings.' But it had also been
intended from the first as a repository for those writings as they were recovered.

2 See the General Mirror of History under that year.

3 Mayers puts his birth ' about B. C. 163,' and his death ' about 85.'

B 2


are familiar with the power of memory displayed by many
Chinese scholars even at the present day. The sections in
the old text were found in the reign of the emperor Wu
(B.C. 140-87), and came into the possession of his brother,
known as king Hsien of Ho-klen, We do not know how
much this mass of tablets added to the 1 Li, as we now
have it, but they confirmed the genuineness of the portion
obtained from Kao.

ii. The recovery of the A'au Li came not long after, and
through the agency of the same king Hsien. No one did
King Hsien of so much as he in the restoration of the ancient
h^recm-erytf literature. By name Teh, and one of the four-
ths A'au Li. teen sons of the emperor King (b. c. 156-141 ),
he was appointed by his father, in B. C. 155, king of Ho-£ien,
which is still the name of one of the departments of ATih-li,
and there he continued till his death, in 129, the patron of
all literary men, and unceasingly pursuing his quest for
old books dating from before the A7/in dynasty. Multi-
tudes came to him from all quarters, bringing to him the
precious tablets which had been preserved in their families
or found by them elsewhere. The originals he kept in his
own library, and had a copy taken, which he gave to the
donor with a valuable gift. We are indebted to him in
this way for the preservation of the Tao Teh King, the
works of Mencius, and other precious treasures ; but I have
only to notice here his services in connexion with the Li
books 1 .

Some one 2 brought to him the tablets of the A'au Li,
then called A'au Kwan, 'The Official Book of A'au/ and
purporting to contain a complete account of the organised
government of the dynasty of A'au in six sections. The
sixth section, however, which should have supplied a list
of the officers in the department of the minister of Works,

1 See the account of king Hsien in the twenty - third chapter of the Bio-
graphies in the History of the first Han dynasty. Hsien was the king's

• posthumous title ( jejw, denoting ' The Profound and Intelligent.'

2 The Catalogue of the Sui Dynasty's (a. D. 589-618) Imperial library says
this was a scholar of the surname Li (35)- I have been unable to trace the
authority for the statement farther back.

CH. I.


with their functions, was wanting, and the king offered to
pay iooo pieces of gold to any one who should supply the
missing tablets, but in vain 1 . He presented the tablets
which he had obtained at the court of his half-brother, the
emperor Wu ; but the treasure remained uncared for in one
of the imperial repositories till the next century ; when it
came into the charge of Liu Hsin. Hsin replaced the
missing portion from another old work, called Khao Kung
Ki, which Wylie renders by 'The Artificers' Record.' This
has ever since continued to appear as the sixth section of
the whole work, for the charge of which Hsin obtained the
appointment of a special board of scholars, such as had
from the first been entrusted with the care of the 1 Li.
The Ka.u Li is a constitutional and not a ritual work.
The last entry in Hsin's Catalogue of Li Books is : — 'The
Kan Kwan in six sections; and a treatise on the A'au
Kwan in four sections.' That is the proper name for it.
It was not called the Kku Li till the Thang dynasty 2 .

iii. We come to the formation of the text of the Li K\,
in which we are more particularly interested. We cannot

Formation of speak of its recovery, for though parts of
the Li A'i. j t h ac j been j n existence during the Ka\u
dynasty, many of its Books cannot claim a higher anti-
quity than the period of the Han. All that is known
about the authorship of them all will be found in the
notices which form the last chapter of this Introduction.

After the entry in Liu Hsin's Catalogue about the re-

1 This is related in the Catalogue of the Sui dynasty. It could not be in
A'/uen's sixty-first chapter of Biographies, because the A'au Kwan was not
known, or, at least, not made public, in AVnen's time. The Sui writers, no
doubt, took it from some biography of the Han, which has escaped me.

2 A complete translation of the A'au Li appeared at Paris in 1851, the work
of Edward Biot, who had died himself before its publication, before his fiftieth
year. According to a note in Callery's ' Memorial des Rites ' (p. 191), the
labour of its preparation hastened Biot's death. There are some errors in the
version, but they are few. I have had occasion to refer to hundreds of passages
in it, and always with an increasing admiration of the author's general resources
and knowledge of Chinese. His early death was the greatest loss which the
cause of sinology has sustained. His labours, chiefly on Chinese subjects, had
been incessant from 1835. The perusal of them has often brought to my
memory the words of Newton, 'If Mr. Cotes had lived, we should have known
something.' Is there no sinologist who will now undertake a complete transla-
tion of the 1 Li?

6 THE -LI k1. CH. I.

covered text of the 1 Li, there follows — '131 phien of
K\j that is, so many different records or treatises on
the subject of Li. These had also been collected by king
Hsien, and Ki\ Hsi's note about them is that they were
'Treatises composed by the disciples of the seventy dis-
ciples,' meaning by 'the seventy disciples' those of Con-
fucius' followers who had been most in his society and
profited most from his instructions. These 131 phien
contained, no doubt, the germ of our Li K\; but there
they remained for about a century in the imperial re-
positories, undigested and uncared for, and constantly
having other treatises of a similar nature added to them.

At last, in B.C. 51, the emperor Hsiian (B.C. 73-47)
convoked a large assembly of Great Scholars to meet in

Council of tne Stone-Conduit Gallery, and discuss the
BC -5 I - text of the recovered classics 1 . A prominent
member of this assembly, the president of it I suppose,
was Liu Hsiang, himself a celebrated writer and a scion
of the imperial house, who appears to have had the prin-
cipal charge of all the repositories. Among the other
members, and in special connexion with the Li works,
we find the name of Tai Shang, who will again come
before us 2 .

We do not know what the deliberations of the Great
Scholars resulted in, but twenty-five years later the em-
peror K/iang caused another search to be
made throughout the empire for books that
might hitherto have escaped notice ; and, when it was
completed, he ordered Hsiang to examine all the contents
of the repositories, and collate the various copies of the
classics. From this came the preparation of a catalogue ;
and Hsiang dying at the age of seventy-two, in B. c. 9,
before it was completed, the work was delegated to his
third and youngest son Hsin. His catalogue we hap-
pily possess. It mentions, in addition to the I Li and

1 See the Details in the General Mirror of History, under B. c. 51.

2 See the 58th Book of Biographies (j^ %k) in the History of the first
Han, and the Catalogue of the Sui Library.


Ka.u Li, 199 phien of Li treatises. The resume ap-
pended to the Li books in the Catalogue of the Sui
Dynasty, omitting works mentioned by Hsin, and inserting
two others, says that Hsiang had in his hands altogether
214 phien. What was to be done with this mass of
tablets, or the written copies made from them ?

The most distinguished of the Li scholars in the time
of the emperors Hsiian and K/iang was a Hau 3 nan g> the
H£u 3hang and author of the compilation called in Hsin's

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