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The son of Heaven, when sacrificing 1, wore (the cap) with the twelve long pendants of beads of jade hanging down from its top before and behind, and the robe embroidered with dragons.

When saluting the appearance of the sun 2 outside the eastern gate 3, he wore the dark-coloured square-cut robes; and (also) when listening to the notification of the first day of the month 4 outside the southern gate.

If the month were intercalary, he caused the left leaf of the door to be shut, and stood in the middle of that (which remained open) 5.

He wore the skin cap at the daily audience in the court, after which he proceeded to take the morning meal in it. At midday he partook of what was left in the morning. He had music at his meals. Every day a sheep and a pig were killed and cooked; and on the first day of the month an ox in addition. There were five beverages:--water, which was the principal; rice-water, spirits, must, and millet-water.

When he had done eating, he remained at ease in the dark-coloured square-cut robes 6. His actions were written down by the recorder of the Left, and his utterances by the recorder of the Right. The blind musician in attendance judged whether the music were too high or too low 7.

If the year were not good and fruitful, the son of Heaven wore white and plain robes, rode in the plain and unadorned carriage, and had no music at his meals.

The princes of states, in sacrificing, wore their dark-coloured square-cut robes. At court-audiences (of the king), they wore the cap of the next inferior degree of rank to their own 8. They wore the skin-cap, when listening to the notification of the first day of the month in the Grand temples; and their court robes when holding their daily audience in the inner court-yard.

(Their ministers and officers) entered (the palace) as soon as they could distinguish the dawning light 9, and the ruler came out daily (to the first court, inside the Khû gate), and received them. (After this audience), he retired, and went to the great chamber, there to listen to their proposals about the measures of government. He employed men to see whether the Great officers (were all withdrawn) 10; and when they had left, he repaired to the smaller chamber, and put off his (court) robes.

He resumed his court robes, when he was about to eat. There was a single animal, with three (other) dishes of meat, the lungs forming the sacrificial offering. In the evening he wore the long robe in one piece, and offered some of the flesh of the animal. On the first day of the moon, a sheep and a pig were killed, and there were five (other) dishes of meat, and four of grain. On Dze and Mâo days 11 there were only the glutinous rice and vegetable soup. His wife used the same kitchen as the ruler 12.

Without some cause for it, a ruler did not kill an ox, nor a Great officer a sheep, nor a lower officer a pig or a dog. A superior man had his shambles and kitchen at a distance (from the) house; he did not tread wherever there was such a thing as blood or (tainted) air 13.

When the eighth month came without rain, the ruler did not have full meals nor music. If the year were not abundant, he wore linen, and stuck in his girdle the tablet of an officer 14. Duties were not levied at the barrier-gates and dams; the prohibitions of the hills and meres were enforced, but no contributions were required (from hunters and fishermen). No earthworks were undertaken, and Great officers did not make (any new) carriages for themselves.

The officer of divination by the tortoise-shell fixed the shell (to be used); the recorder applied the ink; and the ruler determined the figures (produced by the fire) 15.

(The cross-board in front of) the ruler was covered with lambskin, edged with tiger's fur; for his sacred carriage and court-carriage a Great officer had a covering of deer skin, edged with leopard's fur; as also had an ordinary officer for his sacred carriage 16.

The regular place for a gentleman was exactly opposite the door, (facing the light). He slept with his head to the east. When there came violent wind, or rapid thunder, or a great rain, he changed (countenance). It was the rule for him then, even in the night, to get up, dress himself, put on his cap, and take his seat.

He washed his hands five times a day. He used millet-water in washing his head, and maize-water in washing his face. For his hair (when wet) he used a comb of white-grained wood, and an ivory comb for it when dry. (After his toilet), there were brought to him the (usual) cup and some delicacy; and the musicians came up 17 and sang.In bathing he used two towels; a fine one for the upper part (of his body), and a coarser for the lower part. When he got out of the tub, he stepped on a straw mat; and having next washed his feet with hot water, he stepped on the rush one. Then in his (bathing) robe of cloth, he dried his body (again), and put on his shoes; and a drink was then brought into him.

When he had arranged to go to the ruler's, he passed the night in vigil and fasting, occupying an apartment outside his usual one. After he had washed his head and bathed, his secretary brought him the ivory tablet, on which were written his thoughts (which he should communicate to the ruler), and how he should respond to orders (that he might receive). When he was dressed he practised deportment and listened to the sounds of the gems (at his girdle pendant). When he went forth, he bowed to all in his own private court elegantly, and proceeded to mount his carriage (to go to the ruler's) in brilliant style.

The son of Heaven carried in his girdle the thing tablet, showing how exact and correct he should be in his relations with all under heaven. The feudal lords had the shû, rounded at the top and straight at the bottom, showing how they should give place to the son of Heaven. The tablet of the Great officers was rounded both at the top and the bottom; showing how they should be prepared to give place in all positions 18.

When (a minister) is sitting in attendance on his ruler, the rule was that he should occupy a mat somewhat behind him on one side. If he did not occupy such a mat, he had to draw the one assigned to him back and keep aloof from the ruler's kindred who were near him 19.One did not take his place on his mat from the front, to avoid seeming to step over it. When seated and unoccupied he did not take up the whole of the mat by at least a cubit. If he were to read any writings or to eat, he sat forward to the edge. The dishes were put down a cubit from the mat 20.

If food were given (to a visitor), and the ruler proceeded to treat him as a guest, he would order him to present the offering, and the visitor would do so. If he took the precedence in eating, he would take a little of all the viands, drink a mouthful, and wait (for the ruler to eat) 21. If there were one in attendance to taste the viands, he would wait till the ruler ate, and then eat himself. After this eating, he would drink (a mouthful), and wait (again).

If the ruler ordered him to partake of the delicacies, he took of that which was nearest to him. If he were told to take of all, he took of whatever he liked. In all cases, in tasting of what was some way off, they began with what was near.(The visitor) did not dare to add the liquid to his rice till the ruler had touched the corners of his mouth with his hands and put them down 22. When the ruler had done eating, he also took of the rice in this fashion, repeating the process three times. When the ruler had the things removed, he took his rice and sauces, and went out and gave them to his attendants.

Whenever pressed (by his host) to eat, one should not eat largely; when eating at another's. one should not eat to satiety. It was only of the water and sauces that some was not put down as an offering;--they were accounted too trivial for such a purpose.

If the ruler gave a cup (of drink) to an officer, he crossed over from his mat, bowed twice, laid his head to the ground and received it. Resuming his place, he poured a portion of it as an offering, drank it off, and waited. When the ruler had finished his cup, he then returned his empty.The rule for a superior man in drinking (with the ruler) was this:--When he received the first cup, he wore a grave look; when he received the second, he looked pleased and respectful. With this the ceremony stopped. At the third cup, he looked self-possessed and prepared to withdraw. Having withdrawn, he knelt down and took his shoes, retired out of the ruler's (sight) and put them on. Kneeling on his left knee, he put on the right shoe; kneeling on the right knee, he put on the left one 23.

(At festive entertainments), of all the vases that with the dark-coloured liquor (of water) was considered the most honourable 24; and only the ruler sat with his face towards it. For the uncultivated people in the country districts, the vases all contained prepared liquors 25. Great officers had the vase on one side of them upon a tray without feet; other officers had it in a similar position on a tray with feet 26.


1. Probably, to Heaven; Kang thought it was to the former kings. Many try to unite both views.

2. At the vernal equinox. Callery has 'Quand de bon matin il sacrifie au soleil.' Probably there was a sacrifice on the occasion; but the text does not say so. The character 朝(khiâo) means 'to appear at audience.'

3. Probably, of the city; many say, of the Hall of Distinction.

4. This announcement was to the spirits of his royal ancestors in the first place. Compare Analects III, 16.

5. This is not easy to understand, nor easy to make intelligible. An intercalary month was an irregular arrangement of the year. It and the previous month formed one double month. The shutting half the door showed that one half of the time was passed. There remained the other leaf to be given--in the temple or in the palace--to the king for all the ceremonies or acts of government appropriate in such a position for the whole intercalary month. Something like this is sketched out as the meaning by the Khien-lung editors.

6. These were so named from the form in which they were made, the cloth being cut straight and square.

7. And judged, it is said, of the character of the measures of government; but this is being 'over-exquisite' to account for the custom.

8. So it seems to be said; but why it was done so, does not clearly appear.

9. Several pieces in the Shih allude to this early attendance at court. See Book II, ii, 8; iii, 8, et al.

10. They sat or waited, not inside the chamber, but outside. Some Great officer might wish to bring a matter before the ruler which he had not ventured to mention in public. The ruler, therefore, would give him a private audience; and did not feel himself free from business till all had withdrawn.

11. See vol. xxvii, p. 180.

12. That is, the wife was supplied with what was left from the ruler's meals.

13. Lû Tien says, 'He would not tread on ants.' The Khien-lung editors characterise this as 'a womanish remark.'

14. A ruler's tablet was of ivory; an officer's only of bamboo, tipt with ivory.

15. See the Kâu Li, Book XXII, 25. The Khien-lung editors say that the methods of this divination are lost.

16. 'The sacred carriage' was one used for going in to some temple service that required previous fasting. The paragraph is strangely constructed. It is supposed that the ruler's carriage at the beginning of it was also a sacred one.

17. Came up on the raised hall, that is.

18. It is not clear what the tablets of this paragraph were, and whether they were carried in the hand or inserted in the girdle. The character 搢(Zin) seems to imply the latter.

19. The Khien-lung editors say that after these two sentences; the subject of the rest of the paragraph is a student before his teacher.

20. And also any tablets or other things to be referred to.

21. Tasting the things before the ruler to see that they were good and safe.

22. That is, touched those parts with his fingers to see that no grains were sticking to them.

23. The subject in the two parts of this paragraph does not appear to be the same. The officer in the former was merely an attendant we may suppose; in the latter, one of a superior rank. The cup in the one case was of special favour; in the second the cups were such as were drunk with the ruler at certain times, but were always confined to three.

24. 'Mindful,' says Kang, 'of the ways of antiquity.' See Book VII, i, 10, 11, et al. on the honour paid to water at sacrifices and feasts, and the reasons for it.

25. The gratification of their taste was the principal thing at festive entertainments of the common people.

26. On the two trays mentioned here,--the yü (composed of 木, and 於 on the right of it) and the kin (禁 ),--see Book VIII, i, 12.

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