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All about the Rites

 | 
Anne Cheng
, 
Stéphane Feuillas

The pre-imperial Book of Rites

From ritual to text, the heuristic value of improprieties in the Liji 禮記

Gilles Boileau

Texte intégral

Introduction

1Ritual activities were an essential part of the cultural, religious and political life of ancient China. While always evolving through times, they constituted a series of norms regulating (at least for the elite) behaviour and relationship. They determined propriety and impropriety. Ritual but also historical texts often made mention of those improprieties. In some instances, a ritual norm was only indirectly referred to in occasions where an act was deemed ritually improper. Therefore, the exploration of ritual improprieties has the potential to yield “hidden” information on the ritual norms, to reveal more clearly what was implied in the positive mention of those standard forms of behaviour.

2In this article, I will first present some aspects of ritual in ancient China. It will be followed by a short examination of the relationship between ritual per se and its textualization. In the final part, the heuristic value of two expressions, feili ye 非禮也 and wuli ye 無禮也, in the Liji and other received sources will be explored. This will give me the opportunity to argue that those expressions participated in the strategy of interpretation deployed in those ritual compedia.

The Chinese ritual, definition and historical characteristics

3The Chinese definition of ritual is borne by the character li  which is defined by the Shuowen jiezi 說文解字 as such:

: 履也所以事神致福也.

  • 1 This definition might be derived from the Liji 禮記, chapter “Jiyi” 祭義 (ed. of the Shisanjing zhushu (...)

[The character] li [means] ‘implementation,’ [it designates] what is (employed) to offer sacrifices to the gods in order to obtain [their] benediction.1

4The Han dynasty lexicon, Erya 爾雅, links three characters, jia , li  and chang , in order to define li:

禮也.

《釋訓》云「戛常也.

  • 2 SZ. 3. 18.

Jia [has the same meaning as] li and, by extension, jia [means] constant.2

5Rituals are defined as the religious operations through which the gods are offered a cult and as a series of constant ways of conducting a variety of socially sanctioned actions. In those two texts, li has the meaning of “correct and appropriate countenance or behaviour.” This is valid in various contexts, ranging from military operations to marriages, symposiums and sacrifices.

  • 3 Cf. Liu 2010.

6Liu Xinlan 劉昕嵐 has examined the different meanings of the character li, its etymologies and some of the most important Western anthropological theories on the question.3 According to him, those theories point toward a religious origin of the term: rituals are a politico-religious tool destined to give society its norms. Indeed, sacrifice, in the Liji chapter “Jitong” 祭統, is the most important type of ritual:

凡治人之道莫急於禮. 禮有五經莫重於祭. 夫祭者非物自外至者也自中出生於心也心怵而奉之以禮. 是故唯賢者能盡祭之義.

  • 4 SZ. 49.374, translation James Legge (modified) (Legge 1885, Part IV, 236).

Of all the methods for the good ordering of men, there is none more urgent than the use of ceremonies. Ceremonies are of five kinds, and there is none of them more important than sacrifices. Sacrifice is not a thing coming to a man from without; it issues from within him, and has its birth in his heart. When the heart is deeply moved, expression is given to it by ceremonies; and hence, only men of ability and virtue can give complete exhibition to the idea of sacrifice.4

7The ritual is immediately inscribed in the domain of politics. The Liji adds also moral considerations linking the completion of actual ceremonies with a certain state of mind. It bears witness to the evolution of the theories of ritual developed since the end of the Spring and Autumn period: under the influence of the Ru  (or Confucianists), ritual as a pure praxis has been reinterpreted in the framework of self-cultivation.

8This evolution of the ritual has been paralleled in the political domain by theories emerging at the end of the Spring and Autumn period. Yanzi 晏子 (578-500 BC), daifu (大夫 minister) of the State of Qi , established a political theory founded on rituals, backed by the immutability of Nature:

禮之可以為國也久矣與天地並.

  • 5 Zuozhuan, Duke Zhao 昭公 26th year, SZ 52. 413.

Since time immemorial, rituals, born with Heaven and Earth, can establish and affirm the States.5

9If we take into account both the moral and the cosmic discourses on ritual, it is easy to see how the category of ritual (as li ) has been construed to structure Chinese society, from its insertion in Nature to the moral formation of its elites.

  • 6 Ma 2017.

10This situation changed with the development of bureaucratic apparatuses, at the end of the Warring States period. Ma Tsang Wing has described how the profession of scribe, a low-level official in charge of record-keeping, was opened to non-hereditary scribes because of the growing demand for administration under the First Empire.6 This, of course, related to administrative duties, and was not about the study of ancient texts specialised in ritual, or the future Five Classics, canonised by the Han. It is nevertheless an interesting evolution worth highlighting. It was connected to the more general opening of knowledge following the collapse of the ancient Zhou order. It coincided with the surge of written documents (attested by archaeological findings), which included, for a number of them, information regarding ritual.

Archaic Chinese rituals and the process of textualisation

11This being said, what was the interaction between ritual as a praxis and ritual texts? This problematic can be formulated in a series of statements:

  • Logically Ritual texts do not originate in other texts: their origin is the actual ritual practices. Therefore, rituals and texts belong to two different categories, the primacy belonging to ritual in actu.

    • 7 On this topic, see Venture 2002, 225-227 on the Shang oracular inscriptions and some of their ritua (...)

    The beginning of writing in the Chinese civilisation is considered to occur with the oracular inscriptions of the Shang. From this dynasty on, writing was bound together with rituals.7

  • The existence of ritual compendia is proof of an intellectual movement oriented toward a problematisation of ritual.

  • 8 Ritual texts retained nonetheless some characteristics of those two ancient media of writing, as no (...)
  • 9 Falkenhausen 2011, 269.

12This effort of clarification is linked to the augmentation of writing materials on cheaper medium than bronze. With the passing of time, ritual text became less and less constrained by the use of bones or tortoise shells in ritual practice.8 The multiplication of writing forms might furthermore have been facilitated by the constitution of a database of rituals in the form of verbatim recording of ritualised dialogues in Zhou times bronze inscriptions. Lothar von Falkenhausen suggests in this vein that “[t]he custom of fixing in writing what was said at court must have been an important factor in the early transmissions of documents that eventually found their way into the early Classical texts.”9

  • 10 Cf. Meyer 2014.
  • 11 In later times, ritual notions became a source of literary and cultural metaphors. See for example (...)

13According to Dirk Meyer, the development of writing material during the Warring States fostered the development of philosophical discourse.10 The same theory could be applied to the development of discourses and analysis of the ritual as such.11 This effort, concretised in Han times ritual compendia, resulted in statements demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of the matter.

14For example, the chapter “Jiaotesheng” 郊特牲 (“The single victim at the border sacrifices”) gives the following list of goals for the sacrifices:

祭有祈焉有報焉有由辟焉.

  • 12 SZ. 26. 229.

Sacrifices were for the purpose of prayer, or of thanksgiving, or of deprecation.12

  • 13 Eliade 1993, 549.
  • 14 Cf. Nylan 2005, 9–10.
  • 15 See Nylan 2005, 8. The cultural memory was constructed in part as an attempt to provide the “correc (...)

15This list is in fact similar to the one found in the recent Encyclopedia of Religion edited by Mircea Eliade.13 Would this theorisation have been possible in a context devoid of the objectification and the extrospection permitted by the writing form? Several researchers have also noted that there is a certain structural resemblance between texts and ritual. Michael Nylan suggests that the common point between ritual and text comes from another, psychological, characteristic: rituals and ritual texts “produce (…) compressed versions of reality that are more vivid and focused than ordinary perception.”14 For Nylan, there is a homothetic relationship between texts and ritual, since both (to use the author’s expression) “compress” human experience. If restrained to the temporal aspect of ritual, this compressed effect structures ritual time and constitutes an a posteriori historical effect for texts. It operates in the guise of cultural memory.15

  • 16 Nylan 2005 wrote on the historical evolution leading to what she calls a “public display culture” ( (...)

16There is another point of contact between ritual and texts, at least in the Chinese pre-imperial and imperial context: ostentation. Ritual is by definition ostentatious; it is meant to be seen and practiced in order to be observed. This ostentation has been one of the characteristics of writing since the Shang dynasty, but its scope has been modified, from a clan-based affair to a vast circle of participants or spectators, at least from the Western Han dynasty on.16

17This ostentation had a political undertone as the story of Shusun Tong 叔孫通, a Qin dynasty scholar, shows. When emperor Han Gaozu 漢高祖 (Liu Bang 劉邦, founder of the Han dynasty), faced with the unruly behaviour of his comrades in arms after the pacification, wanted to find a solution:

叔孫通 [⋯] 說上曰「夫儒者難與進取可與守成. 臣願徵魯諸生與臣弟子共起朝儀.」高帝曰「得無難乎」叔孫通曰「五帝異樂三王不同禮. 禮者因時世人情為之節文者也. [⋯] 臣願頗采古禮與秦儀雜就之.」上曰「可試為之令易知度吾所能行為之.」遂與所徵三十人西及上左右為學者與其弟子百餘人為綿蕞野外. 習之月餘叔孫通曰「上可試觀.」上既觀使行禮「吾能為此.

  • 17 Biographies of Liu Jing and Shusun Tong 劉敬叔孫通列傳 in Shiji 1985, 99. 2722–2723. We have also consulte (...)

“Shusun Tong… spoke to the emperor, saying: ‘If it is difficult to be helped by scholars to conquer [the world], one can keep [the world with their help]. Your servant is willing to request the help of the scholars of the State of Lu, to work with my disciples so to establish rules of the court and [imperial] ritual.’ The emperor asked (then): ‘Will it be difficult [to put in place those rituals]?’ Shusun Tong said: ‘The five emperors had different styles of music; the three dynasties had different rituals. Rituals are embellished according to the spirit of the times… Your servant will as much as possible use old [royal] rituals, mixed with Qin court rituals.’ The emperor said: ‘Let us try it [but] you have to gauge my capabilities.’ …Then, [Shusun Tong] brought [the scholars of the State of Lu] with him to the west and, with the collaboration of the emperor’s scholars and his own disciples, altogether more than one hundred of them, made a ritual area on the ground by ways of ropes outside [the capital, for practice]. After one month of repetitions, Shusun Tong told [the emperor]: ‘Your Majesty can attend our repetition.’ The emperor came to attend the repetition and when the rituals were finished, he said: ‘I can do that.’”17

18How should we read this passage? The most obvious lesson is about the nature of ritual: it is understood as an instrument of political order. The second lesson is that aristocratic or royal rituals are complex affairs. Liu Bang had not received a formal education in this domain. Two elements must be considered: a. Liu Bang asks whether the rituals can be (literally) “obtained” (de ); Shusun Tong immediately answers with a discourse on the historical variability of rituals and what is probably implied here is that Han scholars were already very well aware of the historical nature of the rituals; b. ritual complexity demanded the attention of specialists: it could not be improvised. Liu Bang’s reaction acknowledged that what was demanded from him was very limited. The “end result” was a ceremony that made the Han imperial court the true heir of the ancient royal houses: it determined a new order while retaining the “flavour” of antiquity.

19There is another lesson to be gained from this story: the three ritual compendia contain very detailed descriptions of ceremonies and it would be tempting to treat that information as reconstructions or inventions. The painstaking process through which Shusun Tong “constructed” the new ritual, taking one month of repetition by experts, shows that those descriptions are not necessarily far-fetched. In this case, the complexity of the ritual is demonstrated directly; but what about ritual texts? What was their relationship with actual ceremonies?

The heuristic value of ritual mishaps

Texts and reality

  • 18 Cf. Sterckx 2008, 856-857.

20The problem is almost intractable in archaeological terms, as shown by the example of the lists of gifts (qiance 遣策 or fengshu 賵書) in Warring States tombs: they, indeed, cannot be matched with the actual content of the tomb. That could indicate that texts could symbolically provide the equivalent of the objects evoked. Alternatively, gifts were indeed presented during the funerals but not included in the tomb.18

  • 19 For the most famous of those texts, the treaty of alliance of Houma 侯馬盟書, see Poo 2008. Williams 20 (...)

21Another example shows that the situation is not always clear-cut. Such is the case for the “treaties of alliance” (mengshu 盟書). The material and the writing on it were intrinsically part of the ceremony as a whole and the archaeological data provides the proof that very elaborate and costly ceremonies were indeed performed “in real” before the ritual compendia even mentioned them.19

22For received texts, what constitutes for the modern scholar a difficulty is the sheer number of details. However, this might be in part a matter of perspective: a lot of our own ritualised ways have disappeared by force of habit.

The problematics of ritual, misconducts and judgements

23Ritual texts contain descriptive and normative elements. This latter aspect authorises and proscribes some forms of behaviour. A proscription is a negative judgement which can reveal aspects of ceremonies, in some cases the underlying social order sustained by the ritual. It can also highlight the hermeneutic strategies followed by redactors and commentators. In our exploration of these proscriptions, we will utilise two expressions as guides: feili ye 非禮也 and wuli (ye) 無禮(), which must be translated according to the context of each passage. In some instances, a negative judgement reveals one of the characteristics of actual ceremonies. We illustrate this point through an anecdote found in the Zuozhuan 左傳:

十五年邾隱公來朝子貢觀焉邾子執玉高其容仰公受玉卑其容俯子貢曰以禮觀之二君者皆有死亡焉夫禮死生存亡之體也將左右周旋進退俯仰於是乎取之朝祀喪戎於是乎觀之今正月相朝而皆不度心巳亡矣嘉事不體何以能久高仰驕也卑俯替也驕近亂替近疾君為主其先亡乎.

  • 20 Zuozhuan, fifteen year of the Duke Ding 定公, SZ 56.450, translation by James Legge (modified). See L (...)

During the fifteenth years [of the Duke Ding], in spring, when Duke Yin of Zhu appeared at the court of Lu, Zi Gong (Duanmu Ci 端木賜, a disciple of Confucius) witnessed [the ceremony between the two princes]. The lord of Zhu bore his symbol of jade too high with his countenance turned upwards; the duke of Lu received it too low, with his countenance bent down. Zi Gong said: “Looking on and judging according to the rules of ceremony, the two rulers will soon die or go into exile. Those rules are the stem from which grow life or death, preservation or ruin. We draw our conclusion from the manner in which parties move to the right or to the left, advance and recede, look down and look up; and we observe this at court meetings and sacrifices, funerals and military rituals. It is now in the first month that these princes meet at court together, and they both violate the proper rules; their minds are gone. On a festive occasion like this, not behaving physically the way they should, how is it possible for them to continue long? The high symbol and upturned look are indicative of pride; the low symbol and look bent down are indicative of negligence. Pride is not far removed from disorder, and negligence is near to sickness. Our ruler is the host, and will probably be the first to die.”20

24This passage introduces a dichotomy between ceremonies as normative and their interpretations. Furthermore, we can say that it is the difference between the primary “goal” of the ritual and the ceremony’s actual execution that gave way to a new interpretation of the ritual itself. Ritual is a “fleshed-out” performance, depending for its efficacy on the way it is actually done.

25The mention of ritual impropriety can sometimes be used to detect historical changes, a clash even between two types of concepts regarding (for example) the government. A passage in the Chunqiu and the Zuozhuan epitomises this. The Chunqiu has:

五年公矢魚于棠.

  • 21 Shiji 1985 (part “十二諸侯年表”, 14. 551) has: 公觀魚于棠君子譏之 “(the fifth year, the duke went to look at the (...)

“The fifth year, in spring, the duke [went] to shoot fishes in Tang.”21

26In the Zuozhuan, one of the advisors to the duke tries to rebuke his master, saying:

若夫山林川澤之實器用之資皁隸之事官司之守非君所及也. [⋯] 公矢魚于棠非禮也.

  • 22 Fifth year of the Duke Yin 隱公五年: SZ, 3.24-25, translation taken from Legge 1994, 19. According to P (...)

“With the creatures found in the mountains, forests, streams and marshes; with the material for ordinary articles of use; with the business of underlings; and with the charges of inferior officers: with all these the ruler has nothing to do… It is improper for the duke to go spear fishes in Tang.”22

  • 23 On this point, see Boileau 2013, chapter II, 109.

27This passage indicates a change in perception of the ancient ways. At first the monarch had a mystical link with the land, but the emergence of a more streamlined and bureaucratic government led to this link being cut. The advisor deemed improper that the inspection of mountains, rivers, and lakes be part of the normal activities of the prince. For him, the link had to be mediated by a bureaucratic hierarchy.23

28The heuristic value of the judgements of improprieties can be observed abundantly in the Liji.

The Liji and ritual improprieties

Brief remarks on the three ritual compendia and their relationship

  • 24 Cf. Nylan 2001, 174.

29To understand ancient Chinese ritual, the importance of the compendia cannot be overstated. Yet, the redactors of the ritual texts were not neutral vis-à-vis their material. To a certain extent, they were in the position of being both external and internal participants as they, themselves, were involved in the ceremonies practised during their lifetime. According to Michael Nylan, the great Eastern Han commentator Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 (127–200 AD) saw the relationship between the three ritual compendia as such: they were to be taken as complementary, notably in the particular case of the Liji and the Yili. Because of “explicit ties between the Yili and the final seven chapters of the Liji,” Zheng Xuan considered that those chapters were explanatory passages that “function as explanatory notes or appended essays (…) on the Yili’s ceremonials.”24

The Composition of the Liji

  • 25 Cf. Baker 2006, 149-168.
  • 26 Cf. Huang 2009, 21-54 & 404-406 for the “Ziyi” chapter, 428–436.
  • 27 The composition of the Shangshu is notoriously difficult to trace. Some chapters were transmitted i (...)
  • 28 Cf. Jingmenshi bowuguan 1998. Voir également Ma 2004, 177; Jingmenshi bowuguan 1998, 129, 132, n. 1 (...)

30The dating of the Liji different chapters is a notoriously difficult task, for one faces the the problem of the origin of the material composing them. For Timothy Baker, there might have been a collection that resembled the transmitted Liji during the late Western Han.25 For Huang Wuzhi 黃武智, who has studied the historical value, composition and origins of the received Liji, most materials have a pre-Qin origin, but are supplemented by Han dynasty interpolations.26 The received version available since the Song –which may even date back to the end of the Han dynasty– is composed of 49 chapters. Two versions (or prototypes) of chapter 33 “Ziyi” 緇衣 (The Black Robes) have been discovered in two series of bamboo strips, one in the Guodian Chu tomb, the other in the collection of manuscripts published by the Museum of Shanghai. They mention quotes from a chapter called “Yinji” 尹吉, traditionally attributed to Yi Yin 伊尹, corresponding partly to the chapter “Xian you yi de” 咸有一德 (“Common Possession of Pure Virtue”) of the received Shangshu, a chapter classified guwen.27 Those discoveries show that prototypes to the received “Ziyi” were already in circulation during the fourth century BC.28

31Some passages in the Liji have an even more ancient origin. For example, a gift sequence in the Liji, in the chapter “Jitong” 祭統, has elicited comparison to bronze inscriptions of the Western Zhou period. The “Jitong” has:

古者明君爵有德而祿有功必賜爵祿於大廟示不敢專也. 故祭之日一獻君降立于阼階之南南鄉. 所命北面史由君右執策命之. 再拜稽首. 受書以歸而舍奠于其廟. 此爵賞之施也.

  • 29 SZ. 49.377, translation Legge 1885, Part IV,247.

In ancient times the intelligent rulers conferred rank on the virtuous, and emoluments on the meritorious; and the rule was that this should take place in the Grand temple, to show that they did not dare to do it on their own private initiative. Therefore, on the day of sacrifice, after the first presenting [of the cup to the representative], the ruler descended and stood south of the steps on the east, with his face to the south, while those who were to receive their appointments stood facing the north. The recorder was on the right of the ruler, holding the tablets on which the appointments were written. He read these, and [each man] bowed twice, with his head to the ground, received the writing, returned [home], and presented it in his [own] ancestral temple –such was the way in which rank and reward were given.29

  • 30 The dates of reign of this king are given according to Shaughnessy 1991, xix.

32This text can be compared to a gift sequence carved on a bronze vase from the Zhou dynasty, the Yihou Ze gui 宜侯夨簋, which dates from the reign of king Kang 康王 (1005/3–978 BC)30:

王省武王、成王伐商圖遂省東或. 王卜於宜口土南. 王令虞侯夨曰遷侯於宜.

  • 31 Yihou Ze gui” 宜侯夨簋 in Ma 1988, 34.

The king [Kang], having examined the documents [written about] kings Wu and Cheng’s military expeditions against the Shang, also examined the documents [written about military expeditions against] northern territories. The king, standing near the altar of the meat offerings, entered the area of the god of soil altar, facing south. The king gave Ze, the lord of Wu, the [following] instructions: “Very well, I am enfeoffing you as the lord of Yi.” 31

  • 32 Cf. Chen 1986, 101-130.
  • 33 Falkenhausen 2011.

33The Western Zhou ritual sequences of gift-offering have been analysed in detail by Chen Hanping 陳漢平.32 The author concludes in his book that, while numerous details in the ritual compendia correspond to the reconstructed ritual sequences mentioned in Western Zhou inscriptions, there are some variations (in particular regarding the exact place of the king during the ceremony). These could be explained by different chronological layers constituting the compendia. Lothar von Falkenhausen has studied the content of the dialogues in the inscriptions and has concluded that those dialogues were at least in part transcripts of actual oral exchanges which took place during Zhou royal court ceremonies.33

34The chapters of the Liji also bear witness to the flurry of theoretical activities revolving around the “historical” origins, the characteristics and the role of the rites. This, of course, reflects the general atmosphere of intellectual frenzy characteristic of the Warring States period, but the Liji, inasmuch as a lot of its components originate from this period, shows that discourses on the li were a privileged topos to reflect on and establish order. To a certain degree, one can surmise that the discourses on ritual were parts of an attempt to establish (or more precisely re-establish) the foundations of the society as a whole, before and after the unification made by the Qin empire.

Two characteristics of the text

35The Liji is constituted by a series of abstract records, not simplified but made out of an amalgamation of different historical strata: a. it has abstracted its data from historical ceremonies, sometimes in excruciating details; b. those ceremonies have been commented upon directly in the text or interpreted in a way characteristic of Ru (Confucian) morality.

  • 34 SZ. 37. 300, translation from Legge 1885, Part IV, 94.

36The abstractive process is showcased by the minimal amount of geographic and historical references present in the rituals. I have sampled the Liji for those references, beginning with the mention of some of the most important States of the Warring States period. Here is the result: the State of Han  is not mentioned at all. The State of Wei  is mentioned once in the chapter “Yueji” 樂記 in a discussion between lord Wen of Wei and Zi Gong, on music.34 There are two mentions of the State of Zhao , one in the chapter “Tangong b” 檀弓下 and the second in the chapter “Jiaotesheng” 郊特牲. The latter mention is interesting:

庭燎之百由齊桓公始也. 大夫之奏《肆夏》也由趙文子始也.

  • 35 SZ. 25.219, Legge 1885, Part III, 420.

(The use of) a hundred torches in his courtyard began with Duke Huan of Qi. The playing of the Si Xia (at receptions) of Great officers began with Zhao Wenzi.35

37Here, the lord of Zhao is mentioned because of a ritual change attributed to his reign. In some instances, ritual modifications, because of their visible and direct impacts, made them particularly opportune to be included in historical records. These rituals were identified by a chronological reference and, henceforth, they were also a marker of diachronicity. Since rituals established constants, their change was notified very easily.

  • 36 Of note is a mention in the “Liqi” 禮器 chapter, mentioning several details on sacrifices, interprete (...)

38The State of Chu is mentioned in the chapter “Daxue” 大學 (The great learning) where it is cited as an example of virtue. There are three mentions of the State of Qin , one in the chapter “Tangong b” 檀弓下, describing in moral terms a political manoeuvre of the Duke Mu of Qin 秦穆公 to extoll the virtue of Chong Er 重耳, the future lord of Jin 晉文公. The second one, in the same chapter, reports on an attack on Qin interrupted by the funerals of one of the allies. The third one, from the “Daxue” chapter, quotes from the chapter “Qinshi” 秦誓 of the Shangshu extolling the virtue of the monarch, who was able to choose a good minister. There are six mentions of the State of Jin , most of them in the chapter “Tangong b,” recording moral lessons in relations with historical anecdotes.36 The State most mentioned in the Liji (48 mentions in 12 different chapters) is the State of Lu , which is not entirely surprising. Most of those mentions are connected with anecdotes on Confucius.

39In the two other compendia, there is a dearth of historical and geographic mentions. In the Liji, those references are disseminated in the chapters, often to be treated as the starting point of a moral lesson. We can say that the chronological references give the impression that the redactors were highly conscious of at least some ritual transformations having happened in the past. However, those transformations were interpreted under quite a homogenous, Ru-style, way of moral interpretation.

  • 37 The royal (and imperial) sacrifices to Heaven and their historical transformations have been studie (...)

40Those interpretations were in some cases directly affixed to the precise description of ceremonies; they also sought to give a meaning to described ceremonies. We can say that those passages constitute “primary comments” on the ceremonies, prior to and distinct from the secondary comments recorded (for example) in the Song dynasty edition of the Thirteen Classics. Here is an example from the “Jiyi” 祭義 chapter, describing a sacrifice of the monarch to Heaven. It was located in the suburb and involved the sacrifice of an ox:37

郊之祭也,[⋯] 祭之日君牽牲穆答君卿大夫序從. 既入廟門麗于碑卿大夫袒而毛牛尚耳鸞刀以刲取膟菺乃退. 爓祭祭腥而退敬之至也.

  • 38 Literally: “bare their chest.”
  • 39 SZ, 47. 366, translation (modified) by Legge 1885, Part IV, 217–218.

At [the time of] the border sacrifice to Heaven […] On the day of sacrifice, the ruler led the victim forward, along with and assisted by his son on the opposite side; while the Great officers followed in order. When they had entered the gate of the temple, they fastened the victim to the stone pillar. The ministers and Great officers then bared their arms38, and proceeded to inspect the hair, paying particular attention to that of the ears. They then, with the knife with the bells attached to it, cut the animal open, took out the fat about the inwards, and withdrew (for a time). Afterwards they offered some of the flesh boiled, and some raw, then (finally) withdrawing. There was the highest reverence about everything.39

41This passage is composed of two parts; the longest one is a description of physical sequences (that is to say, gestures, displacements and actions) and the shortest one (only one sentence, 敬之至也) is a comment which gives the meaning of the sequence. This is only an example of the kinds of arrangements that can be found in the Liji. The chapter from which the above quoted passage is extracted, is named, aptly, “Jiyi,” the meaning of sacrifices. It can therefore be considered as a primary annotation and a general reflection on sacrifices as such.

42The second passage is extracted from the “Liqi” (禮器, “Ritual vessels”):

是故七介以相見也不然則已愨. 三辭三讓而至不然則已蹙.

  • 40 SZ. 24.211, Legge 1885, Part III, 407.

When [two princes] have an interview, there are seven attendants to wait on them and direct them. Without these the interview would be too plain and dull. They reach (the ancestral temple) after the visitor has thrice declined the welcome of the host, and the host has thrice tried to give precedence to the other. Without these courtesies the interview would be too hurried and abrupt.”40

43This passage reveals a characteristic of ancient diplomatic encounters: assistants were needed, probably to do two things: a. to show the princes’ entourage and thus, indirectly, his power; b. to make sure that the political discussions would follow a fixed agenda, in order to avoid individual initiatives taken by the princes themselves. Here, a more “cynical” interpretation of the encounter between two princes is possible (or even more probable), but the primary interpretation of the Liji (functioning as a primary comment) was to mask this harsh reality of political prudence by means of vague courteous intent; in other words, while the Liji might have recorded the existence of actual ceremonies, it was interpreted in a moral way. In that regard, the ritualistic interpretations cover those realities with the veil of politeness.

44This example must be compared with other instances, where harshness in the Liji takes the form of scathing judgements.

Ritual judgement in the Liji, impropriety and humanisation

45Records of mishaps also allowed the redactors to comment on specific aspects of the ritual, in order to provide a first layer of explanation. They constitute another editorial tool for the purpose of establishing an authoritative tradition of interpretation: what constitutes a proper behaviour reveals at the same time the moral virtues favoured by the redactors.

46There are 25 mentions of the expression feili ye 非禮也 ([this is] ritually improper) in the Liji with some passages containing more than one mention. The corpus is composed of the following passages:

1. “Quli” a (曲禮上, “Summary of the rules of propriety, part 1”):

太上貴德其次務施報. 禮尚往來. 往而不來非禮也來而不往亦非禮也. 人有禮則安無禮則危. 故曰禮者不可不學也.

  • 41 SZ. 1.03, Legge 1885, Part III, 65.

In the highest antiquity, they prized [simply conferring] good; in the time next to this, giving and repaying was the thing attended to. 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 observes the rules of propriety, he is in a condition of security; if he does not, he is in one of danger. Hence there is the saying “The rules of propriety should by no means be left unlearned.”41

47The passage underlines the importance of the rules of reciprocity in society, rules cementing all relationship, not only in early China but even nowadays. The expression lai er bu wang, yi fei li ye 來而不往亦非禮也 (being given something and not reciprocating is contrary to ritual) has even taken a proverbial value today.

2. “Quli” a:

謀於長者必操几杖以從之。長者問,不辭讓而對,非禮也。

  • 42 SZ. 1.05, Legge 1885, Part III, 67.

In going to take counsel with an elder, one must carry a stool and a staff (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.42

48What is illustrated here is the hierarchical nature of society; the last passage probably originates in court exchanges when a word said too precipitously could lead to death.

3. “Tangong” b (檀弓下):

陳子車死於衛其妻與其家大夫謀以殉葬而後陳子亢至以告曰「夫子疾莫養於下請以殉葬.」子亢曰「以殉葬非禮也雖然則彼疾當養者孰若妻與宰得已則吾欲已不得已則吾欲以二子者之為之也.」於是弗果用.

  • 43 SZ., Legge 1885, Part III, 181-182. There are two other mentions in the same “Tangong b” chapter wi (...)

Chen Ziju having died in Wei, his wife and the principal officer of the family consulted together about burying some living persons (to follow him). When they had decided to do so, (his brother), Chen Zikang arrived, and they informed him about their plan, saying, “When the master was ill, (he was far away) and there was no provision for his nourishment in the lower world; let us bury some persons alive (to supply it).” Zikang said, “To bury living persons (for the sake of the dead) is contrary to what is proper. Nevertheless, in the event of his being ill, and requiring to be nourished, who are so fit for that purpose as his wife and steward? If the thing can be done without, I wish it to be so. If it cannot be done without, I wish you two to be the parties for it.” On this the proposal was not carried into effect.43

  • 44 孔子謂爲芻靈者善爲俑者不仁。不殆於用人乎哉 “Confucius said that the making of the straw figures was good, and that th (...)

49The custom of burying persons in tombs of the aristocracy has been a common feature since the Shang dynasty. The same chapter contains a saying attributed to Confucius condemning the use of figures in tombs.44 Here the condemnation is illustrated by an amusing anecdote, illustrating the fact that even ritual can be a source of humour.

4. “Tangong” b:

陳乾昔寢疾屬其兄弟而命其子尊已曰「如我死則必大為我棺使吾二婢子夾我.」陳乾昔死其子曰「以殉葬非禮也況又同棺乎」弗果殺.

  • 45 SZ. 10.82, Legge 1885, Part III,183–184.

When Chen Ganxi was lying ill, he assembled his brethren, and charged his son Zunji, saying, “When I am dead, you must make my coffin large, and make my two concubines lie in it with me, one on each side.” When he died, his son said, “To bury the living with the dead is contrary to propriety; how much more must it be so to bury them in the same coffin!” Accordingly, he did not put the two ladies to death.45

5. “Tangong” b:

襄公朝于荊康王卒. 荊人曰「必請襲.」魯人曰「非禮也.」荊人強之. 巫先拂柩. 荊人悔之.

  • 46 SZ, 10. 84., Legge 1885, Part III, 186–187. This episode is also mentioned in the Zuozhuan, 29th ye (...)

Duke Xiang being in attendance at the court of Jing, king Kang died. The people of Jing said to him, “We must beg you to cover (the corpse with your gift of a robe).” The men of Lu (who were with him) said, “The thing is contrary to propriety.” They of Jing, however, obliged him to do what they asked; and he first employed a wu (sorcerer) with his reed brush to brush (and purify) the bier. The people of Jing then regretted what they had done.46

  • 47 On this point, see Boileau 2013, 47, 263.

50Death was a taboo and the monarch could not be put in contact with it. The mention of impropriety here must be linked to the more general context of the relationship between monarchs and death.47

6. “Zengzi wen” (曾子問, “The questions of Zengzi”):

孔子曰「諸侯適天子必告于祖奠于禰. 冕而出視朝命祝史告於社稷、宗廟、山川. 乃命國家五官而後行道而出. 告者五日而遍過是非禮也.

  • 48 SZ. 18.161, Legge 1885, Part III, 314.

Confucius said, “When princes of states are about to go to the (court of the) son of Heaven, they must announce (their departure) before (the shrine of) their grandfather, and lay their offerings in that of their father. They then put on the court cap, and go forth to hold their own court. (At this) they charge the invocator and the court scribe to announce (their departure) to the (spirits of the) land and grain, in the ancestral temple, and at the (altars of the) hills and rivers. They then give (the business of) the state in charge to the five (subordinate) officers, and take their journey, presenting the offerings to the spirits of the road as they set forth. All the announcements should be completed in five days. To go beyond this in making them is contrary to rule.”48

51This passage bears witness to the relaxation of the visit-rules to the royal court, after the Zhou kings entered into a spiral of decline. It evokes a rule of 5 days applied to those visits; whether this rule existed or not (or was generalised) is another question but at least, it gives the researchers a hint about the existing rules.

7. “Zengzi wen” (曾子問, “The questions of Zengzi”):

曾子問曰「祭如之何則不行旅酬之事矣」孔子曰「聞之小祥者主人練祭而不旅奠酬於賓賓弗舉禮也.昔者魯昭公練而舉酬行旅非禮也孝公大祥奠酬弗舉亦非禮也.

  • 49 SZ. 18. 163, translation Legge 1885, Part IV, 317–318. There are two other passages in the same cha (...)

Zeng-zi asked, “Under what circumstances is it that at sacrifice they do not carry out the practice of all drinking to one another?” Confucius said, “I have heard that at the close of the one year’s mourning, the principal concerned in it sacrifices in his inner garment of soft silk, and there is not that drinking all round. The cup is set down beside the guests, but they do not take it up. This is the rule. Formerly Duke Zhao of Lu, while in that silken garment, took the cup and sent it all round, but it was against the rule; and Duke Xiao, at the end of the second year’s mourning, put down the cup presented to him, and did not send it all round, but this also was against the rule.”49

52There are two elements in this passage. The first one is a diachronic one: it documents a change in ritual. As we have said, ritual is the scene where visible changes are most easily noticed. The second one has more direct heuristic value: offering a cup of wine during certain occasions is followed or not by drinking. The inner logic of this must be worked up according to ritual circumstances.

8. “Liyun” (禮運, “Ritual usages”):

孔子曰「於呼哀哉我觀周道幽、厲傷之吾舍魯何適矣魯之郊禘非禮也周公其衰矣杞之郊也禹也宋之郊也契也是天子之事守也. 故天子祭天地諸侯祭社稷.

  • 50 SZ. 21. 189, translation (modified) from Legge 1885, Part III, 372.

Confucius said: “Ah! Alas! I look at the ways of Zhou. (Kings) You and Li corrupted them indeed, but if I leave Lu, where shall I go (to find them better)? The border sacrifice of Lu, (however,) and (the association with it of) the founder of the line (of Zhou) are contrary to propriety –how have (the institutions of) the duke of Zhou fallen into decay! At the border sacrifice in Qi, Yu was the assessor, and at that in Song, it was Xie; but these were observances of the Sons of Heaven, preserved (in those states by their descendants). The rule is that (only) the Son of Heaven sacrifices to heaven and earth, and the princes of states sacrifice at the altars to the spirits of the land and grain.”50

53Since the State of Lu was created by one of the brothers of King Wu, the famous duke of Zhou, this passage could be read as a veiled criticism of lineage-based form of power or at least as a plea for a more exclusive handling of power by the ruling Han emperor. It comes at odds with other sources asserting the right of the State of Lu to practise kingly sacrifices.

9. “Liyun”:

祝嘏莫敢易其常古是謂大假. 祝嘏辭說藏於宗祝巫史非禮也是謂幽國. 醆斝及尸君非禮也是謂僭君. 冕弁兵革藏於私家非禮也是謂脅君. 大夫具官祭器不假聲樂皆具非禮也是謂亂國.

  • 51 SZ. 21. 189–190, translation (modified) from Legge 1885, Part III, 374.

When no change is presumptuously made from the constant practice from the oldest times between the prayer and blessing (at the beginning of the sacrifice), and the benediction (at the end of it), we have what might be called a very great (service). For the words of prayer and blessing and those of benediction to be kept hidden away by the officers of prayer of the ancestral temple, and the sorcerers and recorders, is a violation of the rules of propriety. This may be called keeping a state in darkness. [The use of] the zhan cup (of Xia) and the jia cup (of Yin), and (the pledging in them) between the impersonator of the dead and the ruler are contrary to propriety; these things constitute “a usurping ruler.” [For ministers and Great officers to] keep the cap with pendants and the leather cap, or military weapons, in their own houses is contrary to propriety. To do so constitutes “restraint of the ruler.” For Great officers to maintain a full staff of employees, to have so many sacrificial vessels that they do not need to borrow any; and have singers and musical instruments all complete, is contrary to propriety. For them to do so leads to “disorder in a state.”51

54This text is rhythmed by several utterances of the same ritual judgment and is very complex to analyse. I will note here two elements. The first one is the general tone of condemnation of the independent initiatives taken by officers with regard to their status and the position of the ruler: it is obviously a political lesson. The second is a phenomenon linked to the composite nature of the Liji itself: while this passage says that a great officer should borrow at least some of his ritual vessels, another chapter (“Quli b”), says the opposite.

10. “Liyun”:

故仕於公曰臣仕於家曰仆. 三年之喪與新有昏者期不使. 以衰裳入朝與家仆雜居齊齒非禮也是謂君與臣同國.

  • 52 SZ. 21. 190, translation Legge 1885, Part III, 374–375.

Thus, one sustaining office under the ruler is called a minister, and one sustaining office under the head of a clan is called a servant. Either of these, who is in mourning for a parent, or has newly married, is not sent on any mission for a year. To enter court in decayed robes, or to live promiscuously with his servants, taking place among them according to age: —all these things are contrary to propriety. Where we have them, we have what is called “ruler and minister sharing the state.”52

  • 53 On this point, Pines 2002 is particularly useful.

55This passage is probably linked with the decaying authority of territorial lords vis-à-vis the daifu (ministers).53

11. “Jiaotesheng”:

朝覲大夫之私覿非禮也. 大夫執圭而使所以申信也不敢私覿所以致敬也而庭實私覿何為乎諸侯之庭為人臣者無外交不敢貳君也.

  • 54 SZ. 25. 219, translation Legge 1885, Part III, 420-421.

When appearing at another court, for a Great officer to have a private audience was contrary to propriety. If he were there as a commissioner, bearing his own prince’s token of rank, this served as his credentials. That he did not dare to seek a private audience showed the reverence of his loyalty. What had he to do with the tribute offerings in the court of the other prince that he should seek a private audience? The minister of a prince had no intercourse outside his own state, thereby showing how he did not dare to serve two rulers.54

56The mention of ritual impropriety is indicative of political wheeling and dealing abundantly illustrated by numerous anecdotes in pre-Han history. It reads like a warning to monarchs. The following passage is in the same tone.

12. “Jiaotesheng”:

大夫而饗君非禮也. 大夫強而君殺之義也由三桓始也.

  • 55 SZ. 25.219, translation Legge 1885, Part III, 421. Those Three Huan 三桓 were sons of the father of t (...)

For a Great officer to receive his ruler to an entertainment was contrary to propriety. For a ruler to put to death a Great officer who had violently exercised his power was (held) an act of righteousness; and it was first seen in the case of the three Huan.55

57There is another mention of the three Huan in the same chapter. It follows the same line of reasoning: they established private temples to the ruler of Lu, thus weakening the power of the rightful lord of Lu by asserting the legitimacy of their own lineages.

13. The chapter “Zaji” b (雜記下, “Miscellaneous records”, Part II) includes three mentions of impropriety, for minor behaviour:

58The expression wuli 無禮 is present in the Liji: there are 11 mentions in 8 passages. What it denotes is quite different from the expression feili ye. The political overtone of condemnation is also present but only in some instances. In most cases, the expression is simply to state that this or that behaviour is improper. It seems to denote the capacity of ritual to act as an instrument of culture understood as differentiation from animals. A passage in the “Liyun” chapter illustrates that:

言偃復問曰「如此乎禮之急也」孔子曰「夫禮先王以承天之道以治人之情. 故失之者死得之者生. 《詩》曰『相鼠有體人而無禮人而無禮胡不遄死』是故夫禮必本於天殽於地列於鬼神達於喪祭、射御、冠昏、朝聘. 故聖人以禮示之故天下國家可得而正也.

  • 56 This is a quote from the Ode “Xiangshu” 相鼠 (Odes of the countries, style of Yong 國風 鄘風), SZ 3-2, 51 (...)
  • 57 SZ. 21.186-187, translation Legge 1885, Part III, 367.

Yan Yan again asked, “Are the rules of propriety indeed of such urgent importance?” Confucius said, “It was by those rules that the ancient kings sought to represent the ways of Heaven, and to regulate the feelings of men. Therefore he who neglects or violates them may be (spoken of) as dead, and he who observes them, as alive. It is said in the Book of Poetry, ‘Look at a rat –how small its limbs and fine! Then mark the course that scorns the proper line. Propriety’s neglect may well provoke; a wish the man would quickly court death’s stroke.’56 Therefore those rules are rooted in Heaven, have their correspondences in Earth, and are applicable to spiritual beings. They extend to funeral rites, sacrifices, archery, chariot driving, capping, marriage, audiences, and friendly missions. Thus the sages made known these rules, and it became possible for the kingdom, with its states and clans, to reach its correct condition.”57

  • 58 Ritual, and particularly sacrifice, has been regarded in the Warring States period as such a mentor (...)

59Here, backed up by a quote from the Canon of odes, the concept of ritual is expressed as both the main constituent of true human nature (as opposed to animality) and, the mentor of human civilisation.58

  • 59 There is another passage in the “Quli b” chapter which does not quote from the Mao Shi, but is equa (...)

60The expression wuli is not specific to the Liji but this concept is; it probably reflects in part the school of Xunzi.59

61In the Zuozhuan, there are three mentions of wuli 無禮 that I shall briefly present to offer a contrast. The first one is in the tenth year of the Duke Zhuang (莊公十年); it is the first mention of the complete destruction and absorption of a territory by another:

齊侯之出也過譚譚不禮焉及其入也諸侯皆賀譚又不至齊師滅譚譚無禮也.

  • 60 SZ. 8.65.

When the lord of the State of Qi fled [his state], he came to the territory of Tan, [and the lord of] Tan did not treat him well; when he entered [this territory again], the lords congratulated him but not the lord of Tan who did not come; in winter, the army of Qi destroyed Tan, because Tan did not behave properly.60

62What we have translated by “Tan did not behave properly” is in fact, literally, “Tan did not have ritual.” The second anecdote is mentioned in the 27th year of the Duke Xi (僖公二十七年):

二十七年杞桓公來朝用夷禮故曰子公卑杞杞不共也. [⋯] 秋,入杞,責無禮也.

  • 61 SZ. 16.120.

On the 27th year of the Duke Xi, the Duke Huan of Qi came for a state visit. He made use of the rites of the Yi (barbarians), that is why (the Annals only give him) the title of zi (nobility title inferior to duke), the duke of Lu despised Qi because of its lack of respect. […] In autumn, (we, that is to say Lu) invaded Qi, reproaching them their lack of (proper) ritual.61

63The third one is found in the 19th year of the Duke Xiang (襄公十九年)

且夫大伐小取其所得以作彝器銘其功烈以示子孫昭明德而懲無禮也.

  • 62 SZ. 34.266.

When a great [state] attacks a small one, it takes the booty to make bronze vessels, inscribed with its glorious deeds, in order to show its descendants, how manifest was its own brilliant virtue and how it had punished [those] who did not have (proper) ritual (rules).62

64In all those instances, the expression wuli (ye) 無禮 () is linked with the destruction of states, interpreted as a punishment for disrespecting the ritual rules. While it can be interpreted in a very cynical way, the fact is that the pretext for invasion is deemed to be a ritual offence. Of course, it might also be an editorial tool used by the redactors, but it seems to have been more than a trope in the political rhetoric of the times.

Conclusion

65The Liji compendium offers a variety of texts, some rather descriptive, other commentarial. All those passages, heterogeneous in nature and representative of several layers of historical accretions, constitute a synthetic understanding of what ritual stood for. If we go back to two of the main uses of ritual, that is to say the prescriptive and the proscriptive, the mention of ritual impropriety allows one to see at work how those uses are deployed in the editorial process. Many elements yielded by the two expressions feili ye and wuli (ye) remain to be studied, but this preliminary research has shown that they function as useful signposts. They stand either as a posteriori judgements on ritual matters or as mentions of rituals otherwise not known.

  • 63 The two other primary commentaries of the Chunqiu (the annals of Lu) also have numerous mentions of (...)

66The heuristic value of those expressions has at least been emphasised. In future research, I will explore other, non-ritual, pre-Han texts. I have already begun to work on the Zuozhuan, where the expression 非禮也 is present in abundance: 52 occurrences in 44 passages. All those passages should be analysed in detail in order to acquire a finer understanding of the “life” of ritual concepts in ancient China.63 Indeed, there is as much information to gain from ritual improprieties as from descriptions of them: ritual mishaps constitute, in a manner, a roadmap to historical changes and contradictions in the ancient Chinese societies.

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Notes

1 This definition might be derived from the Liji 禮記, chapter “Jiyi” 祭義 (ed. of the Shisanjing zhushu 1983 noted below as SZ) where this passage (a definition of filial piety) associates li and : 禮者履此者也. “The ritual, it is its deployment.”

2 SZ. 3. 18.

3 Cf. Liu 2010.

4 SZ. 49.374, translation James Legge (modified) (Legge 1885, Part IV, 236).

5 Zuozhuan, Duke Zhao 昭公 26th year, SZ 52. 413.

6 Ma 2017.

7 On this topic, see Venture 2002, 225-227 on the Shang oracular inscriptions and some of their ritual characteristics.

8 Ritual texts retained nonetheless some characteristics of those two ancient media of writing, as noticed by Nylan 2001, 51.

9 Falkenhausen 2011, 269.

10 Cf. Meyer 2014.

11 In later times, ritual notions became a source of literary and cultural metaphors. See for example Jullien 1991, 2-37 on the metaphors of blandness developed from a sacrificial dish, the great soup.

12 SZ. 26. 229.

13 Eliade 1993, 549.

14 Cf. Nylan 2005, 9–10.

15 See Nylan 2005, 8. The cultural memory was constructed in part as an attempt to provide the “correct” meaning of ritual through commentaries.

16 Nylan 2005 wrote on the historical evolution leading to what she calls a “public display culture” (23-24, 26).

17 Biographies of Liu Jing and Shusun Tong 劉敬叔孫通列傳 in Shiji 1985, 99. 2722–2723. We have also consulted Wang 2001, and Nylan 2001, 176.

18 Cf. Sterckx 2008, 856-857.

19 For the most famous of those texts, the treaty of alliance of Houma 侯馬盟書, see Poo 2008. Williams 2013 proposes to date those covenants between 442 and 424 B.C.

20 Zuozhuan, fifteen year of the Duke Ding 定公, SZ 56.450, translation by James Legge (modified). See Legge 1994, 791.

21 Shiji 1985 (part “十二諸侯年表”, 14. 551) has: 公觀魚于棠君子譏之 “(the fifth year, the duke went to look at the fishes in Tang. The gentleman faulted [him] for that.”

22 Fifth year of the Duke Yin 隱公五年: SZ, 3.24-25, translation taken from Legge 1994, 19. According to Paul Goldin, the text of the Zuozhuan dates from the fourth century BC. Cf. Goldin 2010.

23 On this point, see Boileau 2013, chapter II, 109.

24 Cf. Nylan 2001, 174.

25 Cf. Baker 2006, 149-168.

26 Cf. Huang 2009, 21-54 & 404-406 for the “Ziyi” chapter, 428–436.

27 The composition of the Shangshu is notoriously difficult to trace. Some chapters were transmitted in the reformed characters post-Qin (they are called the jinwen chapters, chapters in “new characters”), some others were transmitted in older forms (hence the name guwen, chapter in “old characters”). On this topic see Cheng 2008, 2-22.

28 Cf. Jingmenshi bowuguan 1998. Voir également Ma 2004, 177; Jingmenshi bowuguan 1998, 129, 132, n. 14-15.

29 SZ. 49.377, translation Legge 1885, Part IV,247.

30 The dates of reign of this king are given according to Shaughnessy 1991, xix.

31 Yihou Ze gui” 宜侯夨簋 in Ma 1988, 34.

32 Cf. Chen 1986, 101-130.

33 Falkenhausen 2011.

34 SZ. 37. 300, translation from Legge 1885, Part IV, 94.

35 SZ. 25.219, Legge 1885, Part III, 420.

36 Of note is a mention in the “Liqi” 禮器 chapter, mentioning several details on sacrifices, interpreted in moral terms.

37 The royal (and imperial) sacrifices to Heaven and their historical transformations have been studied by Bujard 2000. While the author casts doubt on the existence of such sacrifices before the Han, it is still a useful introduction to the topic.

38 Literally: “bare their chest.”

39 SZ, 47. 366, translation (modified) by Legge 1885, Part IV, 217–218.

40 SZ. 24.211, Legge 1885, Part III, 407.

41 SZ. 1.03, Legge 1885, Part III, 65.

42 SZ. 1.05, Legge 1885, Part III, 67.

43 SZ., Legge 1885, Part III, 181-182. There are two other mentions in the same “Tangong b” chapter with pseudo-historical anecdotes aimed at discouraging the practice of “followers” in tombs, that is to say persons sacrificed to accompany the defunct.

44 孔子謂爲芻靈者善爲俑者不仁。不殆於用人乎哉 “Confucius said that the making of the straw figures was good, and that the making of the (wooden) automaton was not benevolent. Was there not a danger of its leading to the use of (living) men?

45 SZ. 10.82, Legge 1885, Part III,183–184.

46 SZ, 10. 84., Legge 1885, Part III, 186–187. This episode is also mentioned in the Zuozhuan, 29th year of the Duke Xiang 襄公, SZ, 39. 302–303.

47 On this point, see Boileau 2013, 47, 263.

48 SZ. 18.161, Legge 1885, Part III, 314.

49 SZ. 18. 163, translation Legge 1885, Part IV, 317–318. There are two other passages in the same chapter containing criticisms of impropriety during –or linked to– funerals.

50 SZ. 21. 189, translation (modified) from Legge 1885, Part III, 372.

51 SZ. 21. 189–190, translation (modified) from Legge 1885, Part III, 374.

52 SZ. 21. 190, translation Legge 1885, Part III, 374–375.

53 On this point, Pines 2002 is particularly useful.

54 SZ. 25. 219, translation Legge 1885, Part III, 420-421.

55 SZ. 25.219, translation Legge 1885, Part III, 421. Those Three Huan 三桓 were sons of the father of the Duke Zhuang of Lu 魯莊公, Duke Huan 魯桓公, and their clans displaced the legitimate power of the duke during the following period.

56 This is a quote from the Ode “Xiangshu” 相鼠 (Odes of the countries, style of Yong 國風 鄘風), SZ 3-2, 51. Qu Wanli 屈萬里 dates those odes from the Spring and Autumn period (Shijing shiyi 1961, 49-50).

57 SZ. 21.186-187, translation Legge 1885, Part III, 367.

58 Ritual, and particularly sacrifice, has been regarded in the Warring States period as such a mentor. We have studied this question in detail in Boileau 2013.

59 There is another passage in the “Quli b” chapter which does not quote from the Mao Shi, but is equally apt to illustrate the same concept.

60 SZ. 8.65.

61 SZ. 16.120.

62 SZ. 34.266.

63 The two other primary commentaries of the Chunqiu (the annals of Lu) also have numerous mentions of the expression feili ye. For the Gongyangzhuan 公羊傳, there are 30 occurrences; for the Guliangzhuan 春秋穀梁傳, only 14 occurrences.

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