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Part 1

1 1. The Summary of the Rules of Propriety says:-Always and in everything let there be reverence; with the deportment grave as when one is thinking (deeply), and with speech composed and definite. This will make the people tranquil.

2. Pride should not be allowed to grow; the desires should not be indulged; the will should not be gratified to the full; pleasure should not be carried to excess.

3. Men of talents and virtue can be familiar with others and yet respect them; can stand in awe of others and yet love them. They love others and yet acknowledge the evil that is in them. They accumulate (wealth) and yet are able to part with it (to help the needy); they rest in what gives them satisfaction and yet can seek satisfaction elsewhere (when it is desirable to do so). When you find wealth within your reach, do not (try to) get it by improper means; when you meet with calamity, do not (try to) escape from it by improper means. Do not seek for victory in small contentions; do not seek for more than your proper share. Do not positively affirm what you have doubts about; and (when you have no doubts), do not let what you say appear (simply) as your own view. 2

4. If a man be sitting, let him do so as a personator of the deceased; 3 if he be standing, let him do so (reverently), as in sacrificing. In (observing) the rules of propriety, what is right (for the time and in the circumstances) should be followed. In discharging a mission (to another state), its customs are to be observed.

5. They are the rules of propriety, that furnish the means of determining (the observances towards) relatives, as near and remote; of settling points which may cause suspicion or doubt; of distinguishing where there should be agreement, and where difference; and of making clear what is right and what is wrong.According to those rules, one should not (seek to) please others in an improper way, nor be lavish of his words,According to them, one does not go beyond the definite measure, nor encroach on or despise others, nor is fond of (presuming) familiarities.To cultivate one's person and fulfil one's words is called good conduct. When the conduct is (thus) ordered, and the words are accordant with the (right) course, we have the substance of the rules of propriety.I have heard that it is in accordance with those rules that one should be chosen by others (as their model); I have not heard of his choosing them (to take him as such). I have heard in the same way of (scholars) coming to learn; I have not heard of (the master) going to teach. The course (of duty), virtue, benevolence, and righteousness cannot be fully carried out without the rules of propriety; nor are training and oral lessons for the rectification of manners complete;nor can the clearing up of quarrels and discriminating in disputes be accomplished;nor can (the duties between) ruler and minister, high and low, father and son, elder brother and younger, be determined;nor can students for office and (other) learners, in serving their masters, have an attachment for them;nor can majesty and dignity be shown in assigning the different places at court, in the government of the armies, and in discharging the duties of office so as to secure the operation of the laws;nor can there be the (proper) sincerity and gravity in presenting the offerings to spiritual Beings on occasions of supplication, thanksgiving, and the various sacrifices. 4Therefore the superior man is respectful and reverent, assiduous in his duties and not going beyond them, retiring and yielding;-thus illustrating (the principle of) propriety.The parrot can speak, and yet is nothing more than a bird; the ape can speak, and yet is nothing more than a beast. 5 Here now is a man who observes no rules of propriety; is not his heart that of a beast? But if (men were as) beasts, and without (the principle of) propriety, father and son might have the same mate.Therefore, when the sages arose, they framed the rules of propriety in order to teach men, and cause them, by their possession of them, to make a distinction between themselves and brutes.

6. In the highest antiquity they prized (simply conferring) good; in the time next to this, giving and repaying was the thing attended to. 6 And what the rules of propriety value is that reciprocity. If I give a gift and nothing comes in return, that is contrary to propriety; if the thing comes to me, and I give nothing in return, that also is contrary to propriety. If a man observe the rules of propriety, he is in a condition of security; if he do not, he is in one of danger. Hence there is the saying, 'The rules of propriety should by no means be left unlearned.'Propriety is seen in humbling one's self and giving honour to others. Even porters and pedlers are sure to display this giving honour (in some cases); how much more should the rich and noble do so (in all)! When the rich and noble know to love propriety, they do not become proud nor dissolute. When the poor and mean know to love propriety, their minds do not become cowardly.

7. When one is ten years old, we call him a boy; he goes (out) to school. When he is twenty, we call him a youth; he is capped. When he is thirty, we say, 'He is at his maturity;' he has a wife. 7 When he is forty, we say, 'He is in his vigour;' he is employed in office. When he is fifty, we say, 'He is getting grey;' he can discharge all the duties of an officer. When he is sixty, we say, 'He is getting old;' he gives directions and instructions. When he is seventy, we say, 'He is old;' he delegates his duties to others. At eighty or ninety, we say of him, 'He is very old.' When he is seven, we say that he is an object of pitying love. Such a child and one who is very old, though they may be chargeable with crime, are not subjected to punishment. At a hundred, he is called a centenarian, and has to be fed.A great officer, when he is seventy, should resign (his charge of) affairs.If he be not allowed to resign, there must be given him a stool and staff. When travelling on service, he must have the attendance of his wife; 8 and when going to any other state, he will ride in an easy carriage. 9(In another state) he will, style himself 'the old man;' in his own state, he will call himself by his name. When from another they ask (about his state), he must tell them of its (old) institutions. 10

Part II 11

1. In going to take counsel with an elder, one must carry a stool and a staff with him (for the elder's use). When the elder asks a question, to reply without acknowledging one's incompetency and (trying to) decline answering, is contrary to propriety.12

2. For all sons it is the rule :-In winter, to warm (the bed for their parents), and to cool it in summer; in the evening, to adjust everything (for their repose), and to inquire (about their health) in the morning; and, when with their companions, not to quarrel.

3. Whenever a son, having received the three (first) gifts (of the ruler), declines (to use) the carriage and horses, the people of the hamlets and smaller districts, and of the larger districts and neighbourhoods, will proclaim him filial; his brothers and relatives, both by consanguinity and affinity, will proclaim him loving; his friends who are fellow-officers will proclaim him virtuous; and his friends who are his associates will proclaim him true. 13

4. When he sees an intimate friend of his father, not to presume to go forward to him without being told to do so; nor to retire without being told; nor to address him without being questioned:-this is the conduct of a filial son,A son, when he is going abroad, must inform (his parents where he is going); when he returns, he must present himself before them. Where he travels must be in some fixed (region); what he engages in must be some (reputable) occupation.In ordinary conversation (with his parents), he does not use the term 'old' (with reference to them). 14He should serve one twice as old as himself as he serves his father, one ten years older than himself as an elder brother; with one five years older he should walk shoulder to shoulder, but (a little) behind him.When five are sitting together, the eldest must have a different mat (by himself). 15A son should not occupy the south-west corner of the apartment, nor sit in the middle of the mat (which he occupies alone), nor walk in the middle of the road, nor stand in the middle of the doorway. 16He should not take the part of regulating the (quantity of) rice and other viands at an entertainment.He should not act as personator of the dead at sacrifice. 17He should be (as if he were) hearing (his parents) when there is no voice from them, and as seeing them when they are not actually there.He should not ascend a height, nor approach the verge of a depth; he should not indulge in reckless reviling or derisive laughing. A filial son will not do things in the dark, nor attempt hazardous undertakings, fearing lest he disgrace his parents.14. While his parents are alive, he will not promise a friend to die (with or for him), 18 nor will he have wealth that he calls his own.A son, while his parents are alive, will not wear a cap or (other) article of dress, with a white border. 19An orphan son, taking his father's place, will not wear a cap or (other article of) dress with a variegated border. 20

5. A boy should never he allowed to see an instance of deceit 21.A lad should not wear a jacket of fur nor the skirt 22 . He must stand straight and square, and not incline his head in hearing. When an elder is holding him with the hand, he should hold the elder's hand with both his hands. When the elder has shifted his sword to his back and is speaking to him with the side of his face bent down, he should cover his mouth with his hand in answering 23.When he is following his teacher , he should not quit the road to speak with another person. When he meets his teacher on the road, he should hasten forward to him, and stand with his hands joined across his breast. If the teacher speak to him, he will answer; if he do not, he will retire with hasty steps.When, following an elder, they ascend a level height, he must keep his face towards the quarter to which the elder is looking. When one has ascended the wall of a city, he should not point, nor call out 24. When he intends to go to a lodging-house, let it not be with the feeling that he must get whatever he asks for. When about to go up to the hall (of a house), he must raise his voice. When outside the door there are two (pairs of) shoes 25, if voices be heard, he enters; if voices be not heard, he will not enter. When about to enter the door, he must keep his eyes cast down. As he enters, he should (keep his hands raised as high as if he were) bearing the bar of the door. In looking down or up, he should not turn (his head). If the door were open, he should leave it open; if it were shut, he should shut it again. If there be others (about) to enter after him, while he (turns to) shut the door, let him not do so hastily. Let him not tread on the shoes (left outside the door), nor stride across the mat (in going to take his seat); but let him hold up his dress, and move hastily to his corner (of the mat). (When seated), he must be careful in answering or assenting.

6. A great officer or (other) officer should go out or in at the ruler's doors 26, on the right of the middle post, without treading on the threshold.

7. Whenever (a host has received and) is entering with a guest, at every door he should give place to him. When the guest arrives at the innermost door (or that leading to the feast-room), the host will ask to be allowed to enter first and arrange the mats. Having done this, he will come out to receive the guest, who will refuse firmly (to enter first). The host having made a low bow to him, they will enter (together). When they have entered the door, the host moves to the right, and the guest to the left, the former going to the steps on the east, and the latter to those on the west. If the guest be of the lower rank, he goes to the steps of the host (as if to follow him up them). The host firmly declines this, and he returns to the other steps on the west 27. They then offer to each other the precedence in going up, but the host commences first, followed (immediately) by the other. They bring their feet together on every step, thus ascending by successive paces. He who ascends by the steps on the east should move his right foot first, and the other at the western steps his left foot. Outside the curtain or screen 28 (a visitor) should not walk with the formal hasty steps, nor above in the hall, nor when carrying the symbol of jade. Above, in the raised hall, the foot-prints should be alongside each other, but below it free and separate. In the apartment the elbows should not be held out like wings in bowing. When two (equals) are sitting side by side, they do not have their elbows extended crosswise. One should not kneel in handing anything to a (superior) standing, nor stand in handing it to him sitting.


1. In all cases of (a lad's) carrying away the dirt that has been swept up from the presence of an elder, it is the rule that he (place) the brush on the basket, keeping his sleeve before it as he retires. The dust is not allowed to reach the elder, because he carries the basket with its mouth turned towards himself. He carries the (elder's) mat in his arms like the cross-beam of a shadoof. If it be a mat to sit on, he will ask in what direction (the elder) is going to turn his face; if it be to sleep on, in what direction he is going to turn his feet. If a mat face the south or the north, the seat on the west is accounted that of honour; if it face the east or the west, the seat on the south.

2. Except in the case of guests who are there (simply) to eat and drink, in spreading the mats a space of ten cubits should be left between them 29. When the host kneels to adjust the mats (of a visitor), the other should kneel and keep hold of them, declining (the honour) 30. When the visitor (wishes to) remove one or more, the host should firmly decline to permit him to do so. When the visitor steps on his mats, (the host) takes his seat. If the host have not put some question, the visitor should not begin the conversation.

3. When (a pupil) is about to go to his mat, he should not look discomposed. With his two hands he should hold up his lower garment, so that the bottom of it may be a cubit from the ground. His clothes should not hang loosely about him, nor should there be any hurried movements of his feet. If any writing or tablets of his master, or his lute or cithern be in the way, he should kneel down and remove them, taking care not to disarrange them. When sitting and doing nothing, he should keep quite at the back (of his mat); when eating, quite at the front of it 31 . He should sit quietly and keep a watch on his countenance. If there be any subject on which the elder has not touched, let him not introduce it irregularly. Let him keep his deportment correct 32, and listen respectfully. Let him not appropriate (to himself) the words (of others), nor (repeat them) as (the echo does the) thunder. If he must (adduce proofs), let them be from antiquity, with an appeal to the ancient kings. When sitting by his side, and the teacher puts a question, (the learner) should not reply till (the other) has finished. When requesting (instruction) on the subject of his studies, (the learner) should rise; when requesting further information, he should rise. When his father calls, (a youth) should not (merely) answer 'yes,' nor when his teacher calls. He should, with (a respectful) 'yes,' immediately rise (and go to them). When one is sitting in attendance on another whom he honours and reveres, he should not allow any part of his mat to keep them apart 33, nor will he rise when he sees others (come in) of the same rank as himself. When the torches come, he should rise; and also when the viands come in, or a visitor of superior rank 34. The torches should not (be allowed to burn) till their ends can be seen. Before an honoured visitor we should not shout (even) at a dog. When declining any food, one should not spit.

4. When one is sitting in attendance on another of superior character or rank, and that other yawns or stretches himself, or lays hold of his staff or shoes, or looks towards the sun to see if it be early or late, he should ask to be allowed to leave. In the same position, if the superior man put a question on a new subject, he should rise up in giving his reply. Similarly, if there come some one saying (to the superior man), 'I wish, when you have a little leisure, to report to you,' he should withdraw to the left or right and wait. Do not listen with the head inclined on one side, nor answer with a loud sharp voice, nor look with a dissolute leer, nor keep the body in a slouching position 35. Do not saunter about with a haughty gait, nor stand with one foot raised. Do not sit with your knees wide apart, nor sleep on your face. Have your hair gathered up, and do not use any false hair 36. Let not the cap be laid aside; nor the chest be bared, (even) when one is toiling hard; nor let the lower garment be held up (even) in hot weather.

5. When (going to) sit in attendance on an elder, (a visitor) should not go up to the hall with his shoes on, nor should he presume to take them off in front of the steps. (When any single visitor is leaving), he will go to his shoes, kneel down and take them up, and then move to one side. (When the visitors retire in a body) with their faces towards the elder, (they stand) by the shoes, which they then, kneeling, remove (some distance), and, stooping down, put on 37.

6. When two men are sitting or standing together, do not join them as a third. When two are standing together, another should not pass between them. Male and female should not sit together (in the same apartment), nor have the same stand or rack for their clothes, nor use the same towel or comb, nor let their hands touch in giving and receiving. A sister-in-law and brother-in-law do not interchange inquiries (about each other). None of the concubines in a house should be employed to wash the lower garment (of a son) 38. Outside affairs should not be talked of inside the threshold (of the women's apartments), nor inside (or women's) affairs outside it. When a young lady is promised in marriage, she wears the strings (hanging down to her neck) 39; and unless there be some great occasion, no (male) enters the door of her apartment 40. When a married aunt, or sister, or daughter returns home (on a visit), no brother (of the family) should sit with her on the same mat or eat with her from the same dish. (Even) the father and daughter should not occupy the same mat 41. Male and female, without the intervention of the matchmaker, do not know each other's name. Unless the marriage presents have been received, there should be no communication nor affection between them. Hence the day and month (of the marriage) should be announced to the ruler, and to the spirits (of ancestors) with purification and fasting; and (the bridegroom) should make a feast, and invite (his friends) in the district and neighbourhood, and his fellow-officers :--thus giving its due importance to the separate position (of male and female). One must not marry a wife of the same surname with himself. Hence, in buying a concubine, if he do not know her surname, he must consult the tortoise-shell about it 42. With the son of a widow, unless he be of acknowledged distinction, one should not associate himself as a friend.

7. When one congratulates (a friend) on his marrying, his messenger says, 'So and So has sent me. Having heard that you are having guests, he has sent me with this present.'

8. Goods and wealth are not to be expected from the poor in their discharge of the rules of propriety; nor the display of sinews and strength from the old.

9. In giving a name to a son, it should not be that of a state, nor of a day or a month, nor of any hidden ailment, nor of a hill or river 43. Sons and daughters should have their (relative) ages distinguished 44. A son at twenty is capped, and receives his appellation 45. Before his father a son should be called by his name, and before his ruler a minister 46. When a daughter is promised in marriage, she assumes the hair-pin, and receives her appellation.

10. The rules for bringing in the dishes for an entertainment are the following:--The meat cooked on the bones is set on the left, and the sliced meat on the right; the rice is placed on the left of the parties on the mat, and the soup on their right; the minced and roasted meat are put outside (the chops and sliced meat), and the pickles and sauces inside; the onions and steamed onions succeed to these, and the drink and syrups are on the right. When slices of dried and spiced meat are put down, where they are folded is turned to the left, and the ends of them to the right. If a guest be of lower rank (than his entertainer), he should take up the rice 47, rise and decline (the honour he is receiving). The host then rises and refuses to allow the guest (to retire). After this the guest will resume his seat. When the host leads on the guests to present an offering (to the father of cookery), they will begin with the dishes which were first brought in. Going on from the meat cooked on the bones they will offer of all (the other dishes) 48. After they have eaten three times, the host will lead on the guests to take of the sliced meat, from which they will go on to all the other dishes. A guest should not rinse his mouth with spirits till the host has gone over all the dishes.

11. When (a youth) is in attendance on an elder at a meal, if the host give anything to him with his own hand, he should bow to him and eat it. If he do not so give him anything, he should eat without bowing.

12. When eating with others from the same dishes, one should not try to eat (hastily) to satiety. When eating with them from the same dish of rice, one should not have to wash his hands 49.

13. Do not roll the rice into a ball; do not bolt down the various dishes; do not swill down (the soup). Do not make a noise in eating; do not crunch the bones with the teeth; do not put back fish you have been eating; do not throw the bones to the dogs; do not snatch (at what you want). Do not spread out the rice (to cool); do not use chopsticks in eating millet 50. Do not (try to) gulp down soup with vegetables in it, nor add condiments to it; do not keep picking the teeth, nor swill down the sauces. If a guest add condiments, the host will apologise for not having had the soup prepared better. If he swill down the sauces, the host will apologise for his poverty 51. Meat that is wet (and soft) may be divided with the teeth, but dried flesh cannot be so dealt with. Do not bolt roast meat in large pieces.

14. When they have done eating, the guests will kneel in front (of the mat), and (begin to) remove the (dishes) of rice and sauces to give them to the attendants. The host will then rise and decline this service from the guests, who will resume their seats.

15. If a youth is in attendance on, and drinking with, an elder, when the (cup of) spirits is brought to him, he rises, bows, and (goes to) receive it at the place where the spirit-vase is kept. The elder refuses (to allow him to do so), when he returns to the mat, and (is prepared) to drink. The elder (meantime) lifts (his cup); but until he has emptied it, the other does not presume to drink his.

16. When an elder offers a gift, neither a youth, nor one of mean condition, presumes to decline it.

17. When a fruit is given by the ruler and in his presence, if there be a kernel in it, (the receiver) should place it in his bosom 52.

18. When one is attending the ruler at a meal, and the ruler gives him anything that is left, if it be in a vessel that can be easily scoured, he does not transfer it (to another of his own); but from any other vessel he should so transfer it 53.

19. Portions of (such) food should not be used as offerings (to the departed). A father should not use them in offering even to a (deceased) son, nor a husband in offering to a (deceased) wife 54.

20. When one is attending an elder and (called to) share with him (at a feast), though the viands may be double (what is necessary), he should not (seek) to decline them. If he take his seat (only) as the companion of another (for whom it has been prepared), he should not decline them.

21. If the soup be made with vegetables, chopsticks should be used; but not if there be no vegetables.

22. He who pares a melon for the son of Heaven should divide it into four parts and then into eight, and cover them with a napkin of fine linen. For the ruler of a state, he should divide it into four parts, and cover them with a coarse napkin. To a great officer he should (present the four parts) uncovered. An inferior officer should receive it (simply) with the stalk cut away. A common man will deal with it with his teeth.


1. When his father or mother is ill, (a young man) who has been capped should not use his comb, nor walk with his elbows stuck out, nor speak on idle topics, nor take his lute or cithern in hand. He should not eat of (different) meats till his taste is changed, nor drink till his looks are changed 55. He should not laugh so as to show his teeth, nor be angry till he breaks forth in reviling. When the illness is gone, he may resume his former habits. He who is sad and anxious should sit with his mat spread apart from others; he who is mourning (for a death) should sit on a single mat 56.

2. When heavy rains have fallen, one should not present fish or tortoises (to a superior) 57. He who is presenting a bird should turn its head on one side; if it be a tame bird, this need not be done. He who is presenting a carriage and horses should carry in his hand (to the hall) the whip, and strap for mounting by 58. He who is presenting a suit of mail should carry the helmet (to the hall). He who is presenting a staff should hold it by its end 59. He who is presenting a captive should hold him by the right sleeve 60. He who is presenting grain unhulled should carry with him the left side of the account (of the quantity); if the hull be off, he should carry with him a measure-drum 61. He who is presenting cooked food, should carry with him the sauce and pickles for it. He who is presenting fields and tenements should carry with him the writings about them, and give them up (to the superior). In every case of giving a bow to another, if it be bent, the (string of) sinew should be kept upwards; but if unbent, the horn. (The giver) should with his right hand grasp the end of the bow, and keep his left under the middle of the back. The (parties, without regard to their rank as) high and low, (bow to each other) till the napkins (at their girdles) hang down (to the ground). If the host (wish to) bow (still lower), the other moves on one side to avoid the salutation. The host then takes the bow, standing on the left of the other. Putting his hand under that of the visitor, he lays hold of the middle of the back, having his face in the same direction as the other; and thus he receives (the bow). He who is giving a sword should do so with the hilt on his left side 62. He who is giving a spear with one hook should do so with the metal end of the shaft in front, and the sharp edge behind. He who is presenting one with two hooks, or one with a single hook and two sharp points, should do so with the blunt shaft in front. He who is giving a stool or a staff should (first) wipe it. He who is presenting a horse or a sheep should lead it with his right hand. He who is presenting a dog should lead it with his left hand. He who is carrying a bird (as his present of introduction) should do so with the head to the left 63. For the ornamental covering of a lamb or a goose, an embroidered cloth should be used. He who receives a pearl or a piece of jade should do so with both his hands. He who receives a bow or a sword should do so (having his hands covered) with his sleeves 64. He who has drunk from a cup of jade should not (go on to) shake it out 65. Whenever friendly messages are about to be sent, with the present of a sword or bow, or of (fruit, flesh, and other things, wrapped in) matting of rushes, with grass mats, and in baskets, round and square, (the messenger) has these things (carried with him, when he goes) to receive his commission, and deports himself as when he will be discharging it 66. Whenever one is charged with a mission by his ruler, after he has received from him his orders, and (heard all) he has to say, he should not remain over the night in his house. When a message from the ruler comes (to a minister), the latter should go out and bow (to the bearer), in acknowledgment of the honour of it. When the messenger is about to return, (the other) must bow to him (again), and escort him outside the gate. If (a minister) send a message to his ruler, he must wear his court-robes when he communicates it to the bearer; and on his return, he must descend from the hall, to receive (the ruler's) commands.

3. To acquire extensive information and remember retentively, while (at the same time) he is modest; to do earnestly what is good, and not become weary in so doing:--these are the characteristics of him whom we call the superior man. A superior man does not accept everything by which another would express his joy in him, or his devotion to him 67; and thus he preserves their friendly intercourse unbroken.

4. A rule of propriety says, 'A superior man may carry his grandson in his arms, but not his son.' This tells us that a grandson may be the personator of his deceased grandfather (at sacrifices), but a son cannot be so of his father 68. When a great officer or (other) officer sees one who is to personate the dead (on his way to the ancestral temple), he should dismount from his carriage to him. The ruler himself, when he recognises him, should do the same 69. The personator (at the same time) must bow forward to the cross-bar. In mounting the carriage, he must use a stool.

5. One who is fasting (in preparation for a sacrifice) should neither listen to music nor condole with mourners 70.

6. According to the rules for the period of mourning (for a father), (a son) should not emaciate himself till the bones appear, nor let his seeing and hearing be affected (by his privations). He should not go up to, nor descend from, the hall by the steps on the east (which his father used), nor go in or out by the path right opposite to the (centre of the) gate. According to the same rules, if he have a scab on his head, he should wash it; if he have a sore on his body, he should bathe it. If he be ill, he should drink spirits, and eat flesh, returning to his former (abstinence) when he is better. If he make himself unable to perform his mourning duties, that is like being unkind and unfilial. If he be fifty, he should not allow himself to be reduced (by his abstinence) very much; and, if he be sixty, not at all. At seventy, he will only wear the unhemmed dress of sackcloth, and will drink and eat flesh, and occupy (the usual apartment) inside (his house).

7. Intercourse with the living (will be continued) in the future; intercourse with the dead (friend) was a thing of the past 71. He who knows the living should send (a message of) condolence; and he who knew the dead (a message also of his) grief. He who knows the living, and did not know the dead, will send his condolence without (that expression of) his grief; he who knew the dead, and does not know the living, will send the (expression of) grief, but not go on to condole.

8. He who is condoling with one who has mourning rites in band, and is not able to assist him with a gift, should put no question about his expenditure. He who is enquiring after another that is ill, and is not able to send (anything to him), should not ask what he would like. He who sees (a traveller), and is not able to lodge him, should not ask where he is stopping. He who would confer something on another should not say, 'Come and take it;' he who would give something (to a smaller man), should not ask him what he would like.

9. When one goes to a burying-ground, he should not get up on any of the graves. When assisting at an interment, one should (join in) holding the rope attached to the coffin 72. In a house of mourning, one should not laugh. In order to bow to another, one should leave his own place. When one sees at a distance a coffin with the corpse in it, he should not sing. When he enters among the mourners, he should not keep his arms stuck out. When eating (with others), he should not sigh. When there are mourning rites in his neighbourhood, one should not accompany his pestle with his voice. When there is a body shrouded and coffined in his village, one should not sing in the lanes. When going to a burying-ground, one should not sing, nor on the same day when he has wailed (with mourners). When accompanying a funeral, one should not take a by-path. When taking part in the act of interment, one should not (try to) avoid mud or pools. When presenting himself at any mourning rite, one should have a sad countenance. When holding the rope, one should not laugh. When present on an occasion of joy, one should not sigh. When wearing his coat of mail and helmet, one's countenance should say, 'Who dares meddle with me?' Hence the superior man is careful to maintain the proper expression of his countenance before others.

10. Where the ruler of a state lays hold of the cross-bar, and bends forward to it, a great officer will descend from his carriage. Where a great officer lays hold of the bar and bends forward, another officer will descend. The rules of ceremony do not go down to the common people 73. The penal statutes do not go up to great officers 74. Men who have suffered punishment should not (be allowed to) be by the side of the ruler 75.


1. A fighting chariot has no cross-board to assist its occupants in bowing; in a war chariot the banner is fully displayed; in a chariot of peace it is kept folded round the pole. A recorder should carry with him in his carriage his implements for writing 76; his subordinates the (recorded) words (of former covenants and other documents). When there is water in front, the flag with the green bird 77 on it should be displayed. When there is (a cloud of) dust in front, that with the screaming kites. For chariots and horsemen, that with wild geese in flight 78. For a body of troops, that with a tiger's (skin). For a beast of prey, that with a leopard's (skin). On the march the (banner with the) Red Bird should be in front; that with the Dark Warrior behind; that with the Azure Dragon on the left; and that with the White Tiger on the right; that with the Pointer of the Northern Bushel should be reared aloft (in the centre of the host):--all to excite and direct the fury (of the troops) 79. There are rules for advancing and retreating; there are the various arrangements on the left and the right, each with its (proper) officer to look after it.

2. With the enemy who has slain his father, one should not live under the same heaven. With the enemy who has slain his brother, one should never have his sword to seek (to deal vengeance). With the enemy who has slain his intimate friend, one should not live in the same state (without seeking to slay him).

3. Many ramparts in the country round and near (a capital) are a disgrace to its high ministers and great officers 80. Where the wide and open country is greatly neglected and uncultivated, it is a disgrace to the officers (in charge of it).

4. When taking part in a sacrifice, one should not show indifference. When sacrificial robes are worn out, they should be burnt: sacrificial vessels in the same condition should be buried, as should the tortoise-shell and divining stalks, and a victim that has died. All who take part with the ruler in a sacrifice must themselves remove the stands (of their offerings).

5. When the ceremony of wailing is over 81, a son should no longer speak of his deceased father by his name. The rules do not require the avoiding of names merely similar in sound to those not to be spoken. When (a parent had) a double name, the avoiding of either term (used singly) is not required. While his parents (are alive), and a son is able to serve them, he should not utter the names of his grandparents; when he can no longer serve his parents (through their death), he need not avoid the names of his grandparents. Names that would not be spoken (in his own family) need not be avoided (by a great officer) before his ruler; in the great officer's, however, the names proper to be suppressed by the ruler should not be spoken. In (reading) the books of poetry and history, there need be no avoiding of names, nor in writing compositions. In the ancestral temple there is no such avoiding. Even in his presence, a minister need not avoid the names improper to be spoken by the ruler's wife. The names to be avoided by a wife need not be unspoken outside the door of the harem. The names of parties for whom mourning is worn (only) nine months or five months are not avoided 82. When one is crossing the boundaries (of a state), he should ask what are its prohibitory laws; when he has fairly entered it, he should ask about its customs; before entering the door (of a house), he should ask about the names to be avoided in it.

6. External undertakings should be commenced on the odd days, and internal on the even 83. In all cases of divining about a day, whether by the tortoise-shell or the stalks, if it be beyond the decade, it is said, 'on such and such a distant day,' and if within the decade, 'on such and such a near day.' For matters of mourning a distant day is preferred; for festive matters a near day 84. It is said, 'For the day we depend on thee, O great Tortoise-shell, which dost give the regular indications; we depend on you, O great Divining Stalks, which give the regular indications.' Divination by the shell or the stalks should not go beyond three times. The shell and the stalks should not be both used on the same subject 85. Divination by the shell is called pû; by the stalks, shih. The two were the methods by which the ancient sage kings made the people believe in seasons and days, revere spiritual beings, stand in awe of their laws and orders; the methods (also) by which they made them determine their perplexities and settle their misgivings. Hence it is said, 'If you doubted, and have consulted the stalks, you need not (any longer) think that you will do wrong. If the day (be clearly indicated), boldly do on it (what you desire to do).'

7. When the ruler's carriage is about to have the horses put to it, the driver should stand before them, whip in hand. When they are yoked, he will inspect the linch pin, and report that the carriage is ready. (Coming out again), he should shake the dust from his clothes, and mount on the right side, taking hold of the second strap 86. he should (then) kneel in the carriage 87. Holding his whip, and taking the reins separately, he will drive the horses on five paces, and then stop. When the ruler comes out and approaches the carriage, the driver should take all the reins in one hand, and (with the other) hand the strap to him. The attendants should then retire out of the way. They should follow quickly as the carriage drives on. When it reaches the great gate, the ruler will lay his hand on that of the driver (that he may drive gently), and, looking round, will order the warrior for the seat on the right to come into the carriage 88. In passing through the gates (of a city) or village, and crossing the water-channels, the pace must be reduced to a walk.

8. In all cases it is the rule for the driver to hand the strap (to the person about to mount the carriage). If the driver be of lower rank (than himself) that other receives it. If this be not the case, he should not do so 89. If the driver be of the lower rank, the other should (still) lay his own hand on his (as if to stop him). If this be not the case (and the driver will insist on handing it), the other should take hold of the strap below (the driver's hand).

9. A guest's carriage does not enter the great gate; a woman does not stand up in her carriage; dogs and horses are not taken up to the hall 90.

10. Hence 91, the ruler bows forward to his cross-board to (an old man of) yellow hair; he dismounts (and walks on foot) past the places of his high nobles (in the audience court) 92. He does not gallop the horses of his carriage in the capital; and should bow forward on entering a village. When called by the ruler's order, though through a man of low rank, a great officer, or (other) officer, must meet him in person. A man in armour does not bow, he makes an obeisance indeed, but it is a restrained obeisance. When the carriage of a deceased ruler is following at his interment, the place on the left should be vacant. When (any of his ministers on other occasions) are riding in (any of) the ruler's carriages, they do not presume to leave the seat on the left vacant, but he who occupies it should bend forward to the cross-board 93. A charioteer driving a woman should keep his left hand advanced (with the reins in it), and his right hand behind him 94. When driving the ruler of a state, (the charioteer) should have his right hand advanced, with the left kept behind and the head bent down. The ruler of a state should not ride in a one-wheeled carriage 95. In his carriage one should not cough loudly, nor point with his hand in an irregular way. Standing (in his carriage) one should look (forward only) to the distance of five revolutions of the wheels. Bending forward, he should (do so only till he) sees the tails of the horses. He should not turn his head round beyond the (line of the) naves. In the (streets of the) capital one should touch the horses gently with the brush-end of the switch. He should not urge them to their speed. The dust should not fly beyond the ruts. The ruler of a state should bend towards the cross-board when he meets a sacrificial victim, and dismount (in passing) the ancestral temple. A great officer or (other) officer should descend (when he comes to) the ruler's gate, and bend forward to the ruler's horses 96. (A minister) riding in one of the ruler's carriages must wear his court robes. He should have the whip in the carriage with him, (but not use it). He should not presume to have the strap handed to him. In his place on the left, he should bow forward to the cross-board. (An officer) walking the ruler's horses should do so in the middle of the road. If he trample on their forage, he should be punished, and also if he look at their teeth, (and go on to calculate their age).


1. On the names of the whole work and of this book, see the Introduction, pp. 9-12 and 15-17. Part I is occupied with general principles and statements about Propriety rather than with the detail of particular rules. It may be divided into seven chapters, containing in all thirty-one paragraphs.Ch. 1. 1, tells how reverence and gravity, with careful speech, are essential in Propriety; and shows its importance to a community or nation. 2. 2, specifies habits or tendencies incompatible with Propriety. 3. 3-5, gives instances of Propriety in superior men, and directions for certain cases. 4. 6, 7, states the rules for sitting, standing, and a mission to another state. 5. 8-22, sets forth how indispensable Propriety is for the regulation of the individual and society, and that it marks in fact the distinction between men and brutes. 6. 23-26, indicates how the rules, unnecessary in the most ancient times, grew with the progress of society, and were its ornament and security. 7. 27-31, speaks of the different stages of life, as divided into decades from ten years to a hundred; and certain characteristics belonging to them.

2. The text in the second part of this sentence is not easily translated and interpreted. I have followed in my version the view of Kang, Kû Hsi,.and the Khien-lung editors. Callery gives for'the whole sentence, ' Ne donnez pas comme certain ce qui est douteux, mais exposez-le clairement sans arrière-pensée.' Zottoli's view of the meaning is probably the same as mine: 'Dubiu's rerurn noli praesumere, sed sincerus ne tibi arroges.'

3. On the personator of the deceased, see vol. iii, pp. 300, 301, According to the ritual of Kau, the representatives of the dead always sat, and bore themselves with the utmost gravity.

4. Four religious acts are here mentioned, in connexion with which the offerings to spiritual Beings were presented. What I have called 'various sacrifices' is in Chinese Kî sze. Wû Khang says: 'Kî means sacrificial offerings to the spirit (or spirits) of Earth, and sze those to the spirits of Heaven. Offerings to the manes of men are also covered by them when they are used together.'

5. We know that the parrot and some other birds can be taught to speak; but I do not know that any animal has been taught to enunciate words even as these birds do. Williams (Dict. p. 8og) thinks that the shang shang mentioned here may be the rhinopithecus Roxellana of P. David, found in Sze-khüan; but we have no account of it in Chinese works, so far as I know, that is not evidently fabulous.

6. Compare with this paragraph the state of 'the highest antiquity' described in the Tâo Teh King, chapters 18, 19, et al.

7. When it is said that at thirty a man has a wife, the meaning must be that he ought not to reach that age without being married. Early marriages were the rule in ancient China, as they are now. Confucius was married when barely twenty. In the same way we are to understand the being in office at forty. A man might take office at thirty; if he reached forty before he did so, there was something wrong in himself or others.

8. Perhaps we should translate here in the plural-'his women,' which would include his wife.

9. An 'easy carriage' was small. Its occupant sat in it, and did not stand.

10. It is supposed here that the foreign envoys first question the ruler, who then calls in the help of the aged minister.


Part II enters more into detail about the rules of Propriety. It has been divided into seven chapters, containing in all thirty-two paragraphs.

Part II enters more into detail about the rules of Propriety. It has been divided into seven chapters, containing in all thirty-two paragraphs.

Ch. 1. 1, speaks of a junior consulting an elder. 2. 2, describes services due from all sons to their parents. 3. 3, shows a filial son when raised to higher rank than his father. 4. 4-16, contains rules for a son in various circumstances, especially with reference to his father. 5. 17-26, gives the rules for younger men in their intercourse with their teachers and elders generally, and in various cases. 6. 27, is the rule for an officer in entering the gate of his ruler or coming out by it. 7. 28-32, deals with a host and visitor, and ceremonious visiting and intercourse generally.

Ch. 1. 1, speaks of a junior consulting an elder. 2. 2, describes services due from all sons to their parents. 3. 3, shows a filial son when raised to higher rank than his father. 4. 4-16, contains rules for a son in various circumstances, especially with reference to his father. 5. 17-26, gives the rules for younger men in their intercourse with their teachers and elders generally, and in various cases. 6. 27, is the rule for an officer in entering the gate of his ruler or coming out by it. 7. 28-32, deals with a host and visitor, and ceremonious visiting and intercourse generally.

12. The reply of Tsang Shan to Confucius, as related in vol. iii, pp. 465, 466, is commonly introduced in illustration of this second sentence.

13. The gifts of distinction, conferred by the sovereign on officers, ministers, and feudal princes, were nine in all; and the enumerations of them are not always the same. The three intended here are the appointment to office, or rank; the robes belonging to it; and the chariot and horses. We must suppose that the rank placed the son higher than the father in social position, and that he declines the third gift from humility,-not to parade himself as superior to his father and others in his circle.

14. Some understand the rule to be that the son is not to speak of himself as old; but the meaning in the translation is the more approved.

15. Four men were the proper complement for a mat; the eldest of the five therefore was honoured with another mat for himself.

16. The father is supposed to be alive; the south-west part of an apartment was held to be the most honourable, and must be reserved for him. So of the other things.

17. This was in the ancestral worship. A son, acting such a part, would have to receive the homage of his father.

18. I have known instances of Chinese agreeing to die with or for a friend, who wished to avenge a great wrong. See the covenant of the three heroes of the 'romance of the Three Kingdoms,' near the beginning.

19. White was and is the colour worn in mourning.

20. The son here is the eldest son and heir; even after the regular period of mourning is over, he continues to wear it in so far. The other sons were not required to do so.

21. This maxim deserves to be specially noted. It will remind the reader of Juvenal's lines:-- 'Maxima debetur puero reverentia. Si quid Turpe paras, nec tu pueri contempseris annos.'

22. To make him handy, and leave him free to execute any service required of him.

23. The second sentence here is difficult to construe, and the critics differ much in dealing with it. Zottoli's version is--'Si e dorso vel latere transverso ore (superior) eloquatur ei, tunc obducto ore respondebit.'

24. And thus make himself an object of general observation.

25. It was the custom in China, as it still is in Japan, to take off the shoes, and leave them outside the door on entering an apartment. This paragraph and the next tell us how a new-comer should not enter an apartment hastily, so as to take those already there by surprise.

26. It is necessary to translate here in the plural. Anciently, as now, the palace, mansion, or public office was an aggregate of courts, with buildings in them, so that the visitor passed from one to another through a gateway, till he reached the inner court which conducted to the hall, behind which again were the family apartments. The royal palace had five courts and gates; that of a feudal lord had three. Each gate had its proper name. The whole assemblage of buildings was much deeper than it was wide.

27. The host here is evidently of high dignity, living in a mansion.

28. The screen was in front of the raised hall, in the courtyard; until they passed it visitors might not be in view of their host, and could feel at ease in their carriage and movements.

29. To allow space and freedom for gesticulation.

30. Two or more mats might be placed over each other in honour of the visitor.

31. The dishes were placed before the mats.

32. Here, and in some other places, we find the second personal pronoun; as if the text were made up from different sources. I have translated, however, as if we had only the third person.

33. He should sit on the front of his mat, to be as near the other as possible.

34. The torches were borne by boys. They were often changed, that the visitors might not be aware how the time was passing.

35. The style and form of 23-26 differ from the preceding. Perhaps they should form a paragraph by themselves.

36. Which women were accustomed to do.

37. The host would be seeing the visitors off, and therefore they would keep their faces towards him.

38. Concubines might be employed to wash clothes; delicacy forbade their washing the lower garments of the sons.

39. Those strings were symbolic of the union with and subjection to her husband to which she was now pledged.

40. Great sickness or death, or other great calamity, would be such an occasion.

41. This is pushing the rule to an extreme. The sentence is also (but wrongly) understood of father and son.

42. Not to find out what her surname is, but to determine whether it be the same as that of the gentleman or not.

43. Such names were so common, that if it became necessary to avoid them, as it might be, through the death of the party or on other grounds, it would be difficult and inconvenient to do so.

44. As primus, prima; secundus, secunda, &c.

45. The appellation was thus the name given (at a family meeting) to a youth who had reached man's estate. Morrison (Dict. i. 627) calls it the name taken by men when they marry. Such a usage testifies to the early marriages in ancient China, as referred to in note 2, p. 65.

46. There might be some meaning in the appellation which would seem to place its bearer on the level of his father or his ruler.

47. The rice is called 'the principal article in a feast.' Hence the humbler guest takes it up, as symbolical of all the others.

48. This paragraph refers to a practice something like our 'saying grace.' According to Khung Ying-tâ, a little was taken from all the dishes, and placed on the ground about them as an offering to 'the father of cookery.'

49. As all ate from the same dish of rice without chopsticks or spoons, it was necessary they should try to keep their hands clean. Some say the 'washing' was only a rubbing of the hands with sand.

50. A spoon was the proper implement in eating millet.

51. The sauce should be too strong to be swallowed largely and hurriedly.

52. Lest he should seem to throw away anything given by the ruler.

53. A vessel of potter's ware or metal can be scoured, and the part which his mouth has touched be cleansed before the ruler uses it again.

54. The meaning of this paragraph is not clear.

55. Does the rule about eating mean that the anxious son should restrict himself to a single dish of meat?

56. Grief is solitary. A mourner afflicts himself.

57. Because the fish in such a case are so numerous as not to be valuable, or because the fish at the time of the rains are not clean. Other reasons for the rule have been assigned.

58. The whip and strap, carried up to the hall, represented the carriage and horses, left in the courtyard.

59. For convenience; and because the end, going into the mud, was not so honourable.

60. So that he could not attempt any violence.

61. The account was in duplicate, on the same tablet. The right was held to be the more honourable part. 'Drum' was the name of the measure.

62. That the receiver may take it with his right hand.

63. Compare paragraph 4. In this case the bird was carried across the body of the donor with its head on his left.

64. A different case from that in paragraph 11. It is supposed that here the two things were presented together, and received as on a cushion.

65. Because of the risk to a thing so valuable.

66. A rehearsal of what he would have to do.

67. E. g., it is said, festive entertainments and gifts.

68. The tablets of a father and son should not be in the same line of shrines in the ancestral temple; and the fact in the paragraph--hardly credible--seems to be mentioned as giving a reason for this.

69. The personator had for the time the dignity of the deceased whom he represented.

70. The fasting and vigil extended to seven days, and were intended to prepare for the personating duty. What would distract the mind from this must be eschewed.

71. This gives the reasons for the directions in the next paragraph. We condole with the living--to console them; for the dead, we have only to express our grief for our own loss. P. Zottoli's translation is:--'Vivis computatur subsequens dies; mortuo computatur praecedens dies;' and he says in a note:--'Vivorum luctus incipit quarta a morte die, et praecedente die seu tertia fit mortui in feretrum depositio; luctus igitur et depositio, die intercipiuntur; haec precedit ille subsequetur.' This is after many critics, from Kang Khang-khang downwards; but it does great violence to the text. I have followed the view of the Khien-lung editors.

72. The rope here may also be that, or one of those, attached to the low car on which the coffin was drawn to the grave. Compare paragraph 45.

73. Not that the common people are altogether freed from the rules. But their occupations are engrossing, and their means small. Much cannot be expected from them.

74. It may be necessary to punish them, but they should be beyond requiring punishment. The application of it, moreover, will be modified by various considerations. But the regulation is not good.

75. To preserve the ruler from the contamination of their example, and the risk of their revenge.

76. The original character denotes what is now used for 'pencils;' but the ordinary pencil had not yet been invented.

77. Some kind of water-bird.

78. A flock of geese maintains a regular order in flying, and was used to symbolise lines of chariots and horsemen. Khung Ying-tâ observes that chariots were used in the field before cavalry, and that the mention of horsemen here looks like the close of the Kau dynasty. One of the earliest instances of riding on horseback is in the Zo Kwan under the year B.C. 517.

79. 'The Red Bird' was the name of the seven constellations of the southern quarter of the Zodiac; 'the Dark Warrior' embraced those of the northern; 'the Azure Dragon,' those of the eastern; and 'the Tiger,' those of the western. These flags would show the direction of the march, and seem to suggest that all heaven was watching the progress of the expedition.

80. As showing that they had not been able to keep invaders at a distance.

81. After the burial. Till then they would not allow themselves to think of the departed as dead.

82. As, in the first place, for uncles; and in the second, for cousins and grand-uncles.

83. The odd days are called 'strong,' as belonging to the category of yang; the even days 'weak,' as of the category of yin.

84. 'A distant day' gave a longer period for cherishing the memory of the departed; 'a near day' was desired for festive celebrations, because at them the feeling of 'respect' was supposed to predominate.

85. To reverse by the one the indication of the other.

86. In a carriage the ruler occupied the seat on the left side; the driver avoided this by mounting on the right side. Each carriage was furnished with two straps to assist in mounting; but the use of one was confined to the chief occupant.

87. But only till the ruler had taken his seat.

88. This spearman occupied the seat on the right; and took his place as they were about to pass out of the palace precincts.

89. That is, I suppose, he wishes the driver to let go the strap that he may take hold of it himself.

90. The carriage halted outside in testimony of the guest's respect. A man stood up in the carriage; a woman, as weaker, did not do so. For horses, see the rules in Part IV, 5. Dogs were too insignificant to be taken up.

91. We do not see the connexion indicated by the 'hence.'

92. Leaving the palace, he walks past those places to his carriage. Returning, he dismounts before he comes to them.

93. The first sentence of this paragraph has in the original only four characters; as P. Zottoli happily renders them in Latin, 'Fausti currus vacante sinistra;' but they form a complete sentence. The left seat was that of the ruler in life, and was now left vacant for his spirit. Khung Ying-tâ calls the carriage in question, 'the Soul Carriage' (hwan kü). A ruler had five different styles of carriage, all of which might be used on occasions of state; as in the second sentence.

94. The woman was on the driver's left, and they were thus turned from each other as much as possible.

95. Common so long ago as now, but considered as beneath a ruler's dignity. So, Wang Tâo. See also the Khang-hsî dictionary under 奇 (kî).

96. The text says that the ruler should dismount before a victim, and bow before the temple. The verbal characters have been misplaced, as is proved by a passage of the commentary on the Official Book of Kâu, where one part is quoted. The Khien-lung editors approve of the alteration made in the version above.

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