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The son of Heaven was encoffined on the seventh day (after his death), and interred in the seventh month. The prince of a state was encoffined on the fifth day, and interred in the fifth month. A Great officer, (other) officers, and the common people were encoffined on the third day, and interred in the third month. The mourning rites of three years (for parents) extended from the son of Heaven to all.

The common people let the coffin down into the grave by ropes, and did not suspend the interment because of rain. They raised no mound, nor planted trees over the grave. That no other business should interfere with the rites of mourning was a thing extending from the son of Heaven to the common people.

In the mourning rites they followed (the rank of) the dead; in sacrificing to them, that of the living. A son by a concubine did not (preside at) the sacrifices 1.

(The ancestral temple of) the son of Heaven embraced seven fanes (or smaller temples); three on the left and three on the right, and that of his great ancestor (fronting the south):--in all, seven. (The temple of) the prince of a state embraced five such fanes: those of two on the left, and two on the right, and that of his great ancestor:--in all, five. Great officers had three fanes:--one on the left, one on the right, and that of his great ancestor:--in all, three. Other officers had (only) one. The common people presented their offerings in their (principal) apartment 2.

The sacrifices in the ancestral temples of the son of Heaven and the feudal princes were that of spring, called Yo; that of summer, called Tî; that of autumn, called Khang; and that of winter, called Khang 3.

The son of Heaven sacrificed to Heaven and Earth; the princes of the states, to the (spirits of the) land and grain; Great officers offered the five sacrifices (of the house). The son of Heaven sacrificed to all the famous hills and great streams under the sky, the five mountains 4 receiving (sacrificial) honours like the honours paid (at court) to the three ducal ministers, and the four rivers 5 honours like those paid to the princes of states; the princes sacrificed to the famous hills and great streams which were in their own territories.

The son of Heaven and the feudal lords sacrificed to the ancient princes who had no successors to preside over the sacrifices to them, and whose possessions now formed part of the royal domain or of their respective states.

The son of Heaven offered the spring sacrifice apart and by itself alone, but his sacrifices of all the other seasons were conducted on a greater scale in the fane of the high ancestor. The princes of the states who offered the spring sacrifice omitted that of the summer; those who offered that of the summer omitted that of the autumn; those who sacrificed in autumn did not do so in winter; and those who sacrificed in winter did not do so in spring 6.In spring they offered the sacrifice of the season by itself apart; in summer, in the fane of the high ancestor 7; in autumn and winter both the sacrifices were there associated together.

In sacrificing at the altars to the spirits of the land and grain, the son of Heaven used in each case a bull, a ram, and a boar; the princes, (only) a ram and a boar. Great and other officers, at the sacrifices in their ancestral temples, if they had lands, sacrificed an animal; and, if they had no lands, they only presented fruits. The common people, in the spring, presented scallions; in summer, wheat; in autumn, millet; and in winter, rice unhulled. The scallions were set forth with eggs; the wheat with fish; the millet with a sucking-pig; and the rice with a goose.

Of the bulls used in sacrificing to Heaven and Earth, the horns were (not larger than) a cocoon or a chestnut 8. Those of the one used in the ancestral temple could be grasped with the hand; those of the ox used for (feasting) guests were a foot long.Without sufficient cause, a prince did not kill an ox, nor a Great officer a sheep, nor another officer a dog or a pig, nor a common person eat delicate food.The various provisions (at a feast) did not go beyond the sacrificial victims killed; the private clothes were not superior to the robes of sacrifice; the house and its apartments did not surpass the ancestral temple.

Anciently, the public fields were cultivated by the united labours of the farmers around them, from the produce of whose private fields nothing was levied. A rent was charged for the stances in the marketplaces, but wares were not taxed. Travellers were examined at the different passes, but no duties were levied from them. Into the forests and plains at the foot of mountains the people went without hindrance at the proper seasons. None of the produce was levied from the fields assigned to the younger sons of a family, nor from the holy fields. Only three days' labour was required (by the state) from the people in the course of a year. Fields and residences in the hamlets, (when once assigned), could not be sold. Ground set apart for graves could not be sought (for any other purpose) 9.

The minister of Works with his (various) instruments measured the ground for the settlements of the people. About the hills and rivers, the oozy ground and the meres, he determined the periods of the four seasons. He measured the distances of one spot from another, and commenced his operations in employing the labour of the people. In all his employment of them, he imposed (only) the tasks of old men (on the able-bodied), and gave (to the old) the food-allowance of the able-bodied.

In all their settlements, the bodily capacities of the people are sure to be according to the sky and earthly influences, as cold or hot, dry or moist. Where the valleys are wide and the rivers large, the ground was differently laid out; and the people born in them had different customs. Their temperaments, as hard or soft, light or grave, slow or rapid, were made uniform by different measures; their preferences as to flavours were differently harmonised; their implements were differently made; their clothes were differently fashioned, but always suitably. Their training was varied, without changing their customs; and the governmental arrangements were uniform, without changing the suitability (in each case).

The people of those five regions--the Middle states, and the Zung, Î, (and other wild tribes round them)--had all their several natures, which they could not be made to alter. The tribes on the east were called Î. They had their hair unbound, and tattooed their bodies. Some of them ate their food without its being cooked. Those on the south were called Man. They tattooed their foreheads, and had their feet turned in towards each other. Some of them (also) ate their food without its being cooked. Those on the west were called Zung. They had their hair unbound, and wore skins. Some of them did not eat grain-food. Those on the north were called Tî. They wore skins of animals and birds, and dwelt in caves. Some of them also did not eat grain-food.The people of the Middle states, and of those I, Man, Zung, and Tî, all had their dwellings, where they lived at ease; their flavours which they preferred; the clothes suitable for them; their proper implements for use; and their vessels which they prepared in abundance. In those five regions, the languages of the people were not mutually intelligible, and their likings and desires were different. To make what was in their minds apprehended, and to communicate their likings and desires, (there were officers),--in the east, called transmitters; in the south, representationists; in the west, Tî-tîs 10; and in the north, interpreters.

In settling the people, the ground was measured for the formation of towns, and then measured again in smaller portions for the allotments of the people. When the division of the ground, the cities, and the allotments were thus fixed in adaptation to one another, so that there was no ground unoccupied, and none of the people left to wander about idle, economical arrangements were made about food; and its proper business appointed for each season. Then the people had rest in their dwellings, did joy fully what they had to do, exhorted one another to labour, honoured their rulers, and loved their superiors. This having been secured, there ensued the institution of schools.


1. Even though he might attain to higher rank than the son of the wife proper, who represented their father.

2. The technical terms (as they may be called) in the text make it impossible to translate this paragraph concisely, so as to make it intelligible to a foreign reader unacquainted with the significance of those terms. The following ground-plan of an ancestral temple of a king of Kâu is given in the plates of the Khien-lung edition of the Lî Kî:--after Kû Hsî. I introduce it here with some condensations. {illustration} Entering at the gate on the south, we have, fronting us, at the northern end, the fane of the grand ancestor to whom, in the distant past, the family traced its line. South of his fane, on the right and left, were two fanes dedicated to kings Wan and Wû, father and son, the joint founders of the dynasty. The four below them, two on each side, were dedicated to the four kings preceding the reigning king, the sacrificer. At the back of each fane was a comparatively dark apartment, called khin (寢) where the spirit tablet was kept during the intervals between the sacrifices. When a sacrifice was offered, the tablet was brought out and placed in the centre of a screen, in the middle of the fane. As the line lengthened, while the tablets of the grand ancestor and joint ancestors always remained untouched, on a death and accession, the tablet of the next oldest occupant was removed and placed in a general apartment for the keeping of all such tablets, and that of the newly deceased king was placed in the father's fane, and the other three were shifted up, care being always taken that the tablet of a son should never follow that of his father on the same side. The number of the lower fanes was maintained, as a rule, at four. Those on the east were called Kâo (昭) and on the west Mû (穆), the names in the text here. See the Chinese Classics, I, pp. 266, 267, and the note there.

3. The names of some of these sacrifices and their order are sometimes given differently.

4. For four of these mountains, see pages 217, 218, notes. The fifth was that of the centre, mount Sung, in the present district of Sung, department Ho-nan, Ho-nan. The four rivers were the Kiang, the Hwâi, the Ho, and the Kî.

5. For four of these mountains, see pages 217, 218, notes. The fifth was that of the centre, mount Sung, in the present district of Sung, department Ho-nan, Ho-nan. The four rivers were the Kiang, the Hwâi, the Ho, and the Kî.

6. The princes who omitted one sacrifice in the year would probably be absent in that season, attending at the royal court. They paid that attendance in turns from the several quarters.

7. If in this summer service the seasonal and the sacrifice in the fane of the high sacrifice were associated together, the rule for the princes was the same as for the king. There was the ordinary associate sacrifice, and 'the great;' about which the discussions and different views have been endless.

8. The victims must all have been young animals; 'to show,' says Wang Thâo, 'that the sincerity of the worshipper is the chief thing in the view of Heaven.'

9. Compare Mencius III, i, 3, 6-9, et al.; II, i, 5, 2-4; I, i, 3, 3, 4; III, i, 3, 15-17; with the notes. I give here also the note of P. Callery on the first sentence of this paragraph:--'Sous les trois premières dynasties, époque éloignée où il y avait peu de terrains cultivés dans l'empire, le gouvernement concédait les terres incultes par carrés équilatères ayant 900 mâu, ou arpents, de superficie. Ces carrés, qu'on nommait Zing (井), d'après leur analogie de tracé avec le caractère Zing, "a well," étaient divisés en neuf carrés égaux de 100 mâu chacun, au moyen de deux lignes médianes que deux autres lignes coupaient à angle droit à des distances égales. Il résultait de cette intersection de lignes une sorte de damier de trois cases de côté, ayant huit carrés sur la circonférence, et un carré au milieu. Les huit carrés du pourtour devenaient la propriété de huit colons; mais celui du centre était un champ de réserve dont la culture restait bien à la charge des huit voisins, mais dont les produits appartenaient à 1'empereur.'

10. I cannot translate Tî-tî. It was the name of a region (Williams says, 'near the Koko-nor'), the people of which had a reputation for singing.

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IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia