<Previous Section>
<Next Section>


The Shû-dze 1, who had the direction of the (other) members of the royal and princely families, inculcated on them filial piety and fraternal duty, harmony and friendship, and kindly consideration; illustrating the righteousness that should prevail between father and son, and the order to be observed between elders and juniors.

When they appeared at court, if it were at a reception in the innermost (courtyard of the palace), they took their places, facing the east, those of the most honourable rank among them, as ministers, being to the north (of the others); but they were arranged according to their age. If it were a reception in the outer (and second courtyard), they were arranged according to their offices;--(as in the former case), by the superintendents of the official lists.

When they were in the ancestral temple, they took their places as at the reception in the outer (and second courtyard); and the superintendent of the temple 2 assigned his business to each according to rank and office. In their ascending (to the hall), partaking of what had been left (by the personator of the dead), presenting (the cup to him), and receiving it (from him) 3, the eldest son by the wife took the precedence. The proceedings were regulated by the Shû-dze. Although one might have received three of the gifts of distinction, he did not take precedence of an uncle or elder cousin.

At the funeral rites for rulers, they were arranged according to the character of their mourning-dress in the fineness or coarseness of the material. In case of such rites among themselves, the same order was observed, the principal mourner, however, always taking precedence of all others.

If the ruler were feasting with his kindred, then all of a different kindred were received as guests. The cook acted as master of the ceremonies 4. The ruler took place among his uncles and cousins according to age. Each generation of kindred took a lower place as it was a degree removed from the parent-stem.

When with the army, the kindred guarded the spirit-tablets that had been brought from their shrines. If any public duties called the ruler beyond the limits of the state, those officers of the kindred employed the members of it, who had not other duties, to guard the ancestral temple and the apartments of the palace, the eldest sons by the proper wives guarding the temple of the Grand ancestor; the various uncles, the most honoured temple-shrines and apartments; the other sons and grandsons, the inferior shrines and apartments.

All descended from any of the five rulers to whom the temple-shrines were dedicated, even those who were now classed among the common people, were required to announce the events of capping and marriage, so long as the temple-shrine of the (Grand ancestor) had not been removed. Their deaths had to be announced; and also their sacrifices during the period of mourning. In the relations of the kindred among themselves, the proper officers punished any neglect of the regulations for condoling and not condoling, leaving off and not leaving off the cap (in mourning). There were the correct rules for the mourning gifts of articles, money, robes, and jade to put into the mouth (of the deceased).

When one of the ruler's kindred was found guilty of a capital offence, he was hanged by some one of the foresters' department. If the punishment for his offence were corporal infliction or dismemberment, it was also handed over to the same department. No one of the ruler's kindred was punished with castration.When the trial was concluded, the proper officer reported the sentence to the ruler. If the penalty were death, he would say, 'The offence of So and So is a capital crime.' If the penalty were less, he would say, 'The offence of So and So has received a lighter sentence.' The ruler would say, 'Let the sentence be remitted for another;' and the officer would say, 'That is the sentence.' This was repeated till the third time, when the officer would make no answer, but hurry off and put the execution into the hands of the appointed forester. Still the ruler would send some one after him, and say, 'Yes, but grant forgiveness,' to which there would be the reply, 'It is too late.' When the execution was reported to the ruler, he put on white clothes, and did not have a full meal or music, thus changing his usual habits. Though the kinsman might be within the degree for which there should be mourning rites, the ruler did not wear mourning, but wailed for him himself (in some family of a different surname).

That the rulers kindred appeared at the reception in the innermost (court) showed how (the ruler) would honour the relatives of his own surname. That they took places according to their age, even those among them of high rank, showed the relation to be maintained between father and son. That they took places at the reception in the outer court according to their offices, showed how (the ruler) would show that they formed one body with (the officers of) other surnames 5.

Their taking their places in the ancestral temple according to rank served to exalt the sense of virtue. That the superintendent of the temple assigned to them their several services according to their offices was a tribute of honour to worth. That the eldest son by the proper wife was employed to ascend, take precedence in partaking of what had been left, and in receiving the cup, was to do honour to their ancestor 6.

That the distinctions at the funeral rites were arranged according to the fineness or coarseness of their mourning robes was not to take from any one the degree of his relationship 7.

The ruler, when feasting with his kindred, took his place among them according to age, and thus development was given to filial piety and fraternal duty. That each generation took a lower place as it was removed a degree from the parent-stem showed the graduation of affection among relatives 8.

The guard maintained during war over the spirit-tablets in the army showed the deep sense of filial piety and love. When the eldest son by the proper wife guarded the temple of the Grand ancestor, honour was done to the temple by the most honoured, and the rule as between ruler and minister was exhibited. When the uncles guarded the most honoured shrines and apartments, and the cousins those that were inferior, the principles of subordination and deference were displayed 9.

That the descendants of the five rulers, to whom the temple-shrines were dedicated, were required, so long as the shrine of the Grand ancestor had not been removed, to announce their cappings and marriages, and their death was also required to be announced, showed how kinship was to be kept in mind 10. While the kinship was yet maintained, that some were classed among the common people showed how mean position followed on want of ability. The reverent observance of condoling, wailing, and of presenting contributions to the funeral rites in articles and money, Was the way taken to maintain harmony and friendliness 11.

Anciently, when the duties of these officers of the royal or princely kindred were well discharged, there was a constant model for the regions and states; and when this model was maintained, all knew to what to direct their views and aims 12.

When any of the ruler's kindred were guilty of offences, notwithstanding their kinship, they were not allowed to transgress with impunity, but the proper officers had their methods of dealing with them:--this showed the regard cherished for the people. That the offender was punished in secret 13, and not associated with common people, showed (the ruler's) concern for his brethren. That he offered no condolence, wore no mourning, and wailed for the criminal in the temple of a different surname, showed how he kept aloof from him as having disgraced their ancestors. That he wore white, occupied a chamber outside, and did not listen to music, was a private mourning for him, and showed how the feeling of kinship was not extinguished. That one of the ruler's kindred was not subjected to castration, showed how he shrank from cutting off the perpetuation of their family.

When the son of Heaven was about to visit the college, the drum was beaten at early dawn to arouse all (the students). When all were come together, the son of Heaven then arrived and ordered the proper officers to discharge their business, proceeding in the regular order, and sacrificing to the former masters and former sages. When they reported to him that everything had been done, he then began to go to the nourishing (of the aged).

Proceeding to the school on the east, he unfolded and set forth the offerings to the aged of former times, and immediately afterwards arranged the mats and places for the three (classes of the) old, and the five (classes of the) experienced, for all the aged (indeed who were present).

He (then) went to look at the food and examine the liquor. When the delicacies for the nourishment of the aged were all ready, he caused the song to be raised (as a signal for the aged to come). After this he retired and thus it was that he provided for (the aged) his filial nourishment.

When (the aged) had returned (to their seats after partaking of the feast), the musicians went up and sang the Khing Miâo 14, after which there was conversation to bring out fully its meaning. They spoke of the duties between father and son, ruler and minister, elders and juniors. This union (of the conversation) with the highest description of virtue in the piece constituted the greatest feature of the ceremony.

Below (in the court-yard), the flute-players played the tune of the Hsiang 15, while the Tâ-wei was danced, all uniting in the grand concert according to their parts, giving full development to the spirit (of the music), and stimulating the sense of virtue. The positions of ruler and minister, and the gradations of noble and mean were correctly exhibited, and the respective duties of high and low took their proper course.

The officers having announced that the music was over, the king then charged the dukes, marquises, earls, counts, and barons, with all the officers, saying, 'Return, and nourish the aged and the young 16 in your eastern schools.' Thus did he end (the ceremony) with (the manifestation of) benevolence.

The above statements show how the sage (sovereign) bore in mind the various steps (of this ceremony) 17. He anxiously thought of it as its greatness deserved; his love for the aged was blended with reverence; he carried the thing through with attention to propriety; he adorned it with his filial nourishing; he connected with it the exhibition of the legitimate distinctions (of rank); and concluded it with (the manifestation of) benevolence. In this way the ancients, in the exhibition of this one ceremony, made all know how complete was their virtue. Among them, when they undertook any great affair, they were sure to carry it through carefully from beginning to end, so that it was impossible for any not to understand them. As it is said in the Yüeh Ming 18, 'The thoughts from first to last should be fixed on (this) learning.'

The Record of (king Wan's) son and heir says, 'Morning and evening he went to the outside of the door of the great chamber, and asked the attendant of the interior whether his father were well, and how he was. If told that he was well, his joy appeared in his countenance. If his father were not so well, the attendant would tell him so, and then his sorrow and anxiety appeared, and his demeanour was disturbed. When the attendant told him that his father was better, he resumed his former appearance. Morning and evening when the food went up, he would examine it and see if it were hot or cold as it ought to be. When it came down, he asked what his father had eaten. He made it a point to know what viands went in, and to give his orders to the cook; and then he retired.'If the attendant reported that his father was ill, then he himself fasted and waited on him in his dark-coloured dress. He inspected with reverence the food prepared by the cook, and tasted himself the medicine for the patient. If his father ate well of the food, then he was able to eat. If his father ate but little, then he could not take a full meal. When his father had recovered, then he resumed his former ways 19.'


1. See Book XLIV, paragraph 1, and note. The Shû-dze or Kû-dze belonged to the department of the Sze-mâ. They were two,--Great officers of the third grade; and under them thirty assistants,--officers and employés. The superintendents of the Lists in nex paragraph belonged to the same department;--also two of the same rank as the Shû-dze, and under them sixty-eight others. The functions of both are described in the Kâu Lî, Book XXXI.

2. See the Kâu Lî, Book XXVII.

3. These ceremonies do not appear to be mentioned here in the order of their occurrence.

4. We have here an instance of the important part which the cook played in the establishments of the kings and princes of those days; see vol. iii, pp. 356, 422. The ruler was too dignified to drink with the guests.

5. See paragraph 2, above.

6. See paragraph 3, above.

7. See paragraph 4, above.

8. See paragraph 5, above.

9. See paragraph 6, above.

10. See paragraph 12, above.

11. See paragraph 7, above.

12. This paragraph is evidently out of place, and should follow the next. Some of the critics endeavour very ingeniously to account for its having been designedly placed where it stands.

13. There is great difference of opinion about 'the three old' and 'the five experienced.' A common view is that the former name denotes the old men of 80, 90, and 100; which appears to have been first propounded by Tû Yü (A. D. 222-284). The Khien-lung editors speak contemptuously of it, and ask what analogous division is to be made of the five classes of the experienced. Callery has a note on the paragraph, to the effect that there were two old men, one called 'the san-lâo,' and the other 'the wû-kang.' The emperor of the Khien-lung period, he tells us, because of the great age at which he had himself arrived, wished to restore the ancient practices in honour of old age. His proposal, however, was so vigorously opposed in council, especially by a Chinese minister, that he was obliged to abandon it. 'Many volumes,' he says, 'have been written on the origin and meaning of the denominations in the text, but nothing certain is known on the subject.'

14. 'Khing Miâo' is the name of the first of 'The Sacrificial Odes of Kâu;' see vol. iii, pp. 313, 314.

15. 'Hsiang' was the name of a piece of music played to the dance Tâ-wû, in memory of the kings wan and Wû. It is hardly possible to give any more detailed description either of the piece or of the dance.

16. 'The young' is supposed to be an interpolation.

17. This sentence is difficult. Callery translates it:--'En vue de tout cela l'empereur vertueux repasse dans sa mémoire ce que (les anciens) ont fait (pour honorer la vieillesse, afin de les imiter).'

18. See the 'Charge to Yueh,' in vol. iii, p. 117.

19. This is evidently an unskilful reproduction of the first paragraph of Section i. We try in vain to discover why the compiler inserted it here.

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