The Rites of the Zhou


The Rites of the Zhou

The Rites of the Zhou is a Confucian classic, one of the Thirteen Classics. It is said to have been written by Zhou Gong Dan, but it was actually written between the two Han dynasties. The Zhou Rites, the Yi Rites and the Li Ji, collectively known as the Three Rites, are the theoretical form of ancient Chinese ritual and music culture, and provide the most authoritative account and explanation of rituals and rituals, and have had the most profound influence on the ritual system throughout the ages. Zheng Xuan, a master of scripture, made an excellent commentary on the Zhou Rites, and because of Zheng’s high academic reputation, the Zhou Rites leapt to the top of the Three Rites and became one of the brilliant canons of Confucianism.

In the Han Dynasty, the Zhou Rites were originally called the Zhou Guan, and were first published in the Shi Ji – Book of the Seal. The Rites of the Zhou are a treasure trove of Chinese cultural history, as they record the socio-political, economic, cultural, customary, ritual and legal systems of the pre-Qin period.

The great project of “making rituals and music”, which had a profound impact on Chinese society, Chinese thought and culture, and Chinese history, was accomplished by the Duke of Zhou in Luoyang.


Zhou Rites

According to the Records of the Five Emperors, Yao appointed Shun to take charge of the government and “repair the five rites”; Shun appointed Bo Yi to be the ranking father and “regulate the three rites”; Shun also appointed Kui to regulate music and “teach the young children”. “Poetry speaks the mind, song speaks long, sound according to the eternal, rhythm and sound, eight tones can harmonize, not to take away from each other, the gods and people to harmonize”. The Records of History – Music records that “In the past, Shun made the five-stringed zither to sing the south wind; Kui began to make music to reward the vassals”. However, as the initial period of Chinese civilization, the Five Emperors’ era still belongs to the budding period of ritual and music culture, or to the period of divine guardianship in the development of Chinese civilization, that is, the period of witchcraft culture. The Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties, especially the Western Zhou, were the period of the formation of Chinese ritual and music culture.

At the beginning of the Zhou dynasty, in order to cooperate with the political maintenance of the feudal system of Zongzhou rule, Zhou Gongdan carried out a comprehensive innovation in the field of ideology, compiling and transforming the rituals and music from the ancient times to Yin and Shang on a large scale, creating a set of specific and operable rituals and music system, including diet, living, sacrifice, funeral …… all aspects of social life, which were incorporated into the “This led to the formation of the ritual and music culture that Confucius admired, i.e., ritual and music became a set of important cultural structures in various fields such as politics, education and faith, and was fully implemented within its jurisdiction. In other words, ritual and music became an important cultural structure in all areas of politics, education, and faith, and the rule of ritual and music was fully implemented within its jurisdiction.

In the Records of the Grand Historian, it is written: “Having missed the order of Yin, he attacked Huaiyi, returned to Feng, and made the Zhou government. The system of rituals and music was then changed, and the people became harmonious and the chanting of praise flourished. In the book of the Chronicle of the Bamboo Book: “King Wu was gone, King Cheng was young, and Zhou Gong Dan was in charge for seven years. Rituals for music, the divine bird Feng Huang see, the lucky penny, is with King Cheng view in the river, Luo, Shen Bi. After the ceremony, the king retired once. As for the afternoon, the glory and out of the curtain river, green clouds floating to, green dragon altar, with the Xuanjia figure, sitting and go. Rites in Luo, also like it.” The book of Wei, volume 108, one of the zhi first ○: Zhou Wen Gong system rituals for music, the example of thousands of leaves, can be sacrificed in Luoyang. The Spring and Autumn Period, Volume 7: The Duke of Zhou assisted King Cheng to be appointed to make a palace in Luoyang, into the system of Wen and Wu, and make the hamstring music to serve heaven. The “Zhou Guan” is the “Zhou Rites” “The Records of the Grand Historian – Zhou Benji” contains: “both dwarfed the order of Yin, attacked Huaiyi, returned to the Feng, made the “Zhou Guan”. The rites and music were corrected, the system was changed, and the people were in harmony, and the sound of praise was raised.” After the Duke of Zhou deposed the Yin rituals and attacked Huaiyi, he returned to Fengjing, the capital of the Western Zhou Dynasty, and wrote the “Zhou Guan”. The Zhou Guan, or the Rites of the Zhou, is a collection of ancient Qin texts acquired from the people by Liu De, the King of Heshan, at the time of Emperor Jing and Emperor Wu of the Western Han Dynasty, and is the most comprehensive record of the rites of the Zhou Dynasty.

Dating of the book

The earliest record of the discovery of the Book of the Rites of the Zhou is found in the “Biography of King Xian of Hefei” in the “Book of the Han Dynasty – Biography of King Jing XIII”.

Jia Gongyan’s “Preface to the Rites of the Zhou” reads: “The “Rites of the Zhou” was first published in the time of Xiaowu, and was kept secret and not transmitted”; “Since it was written in a mountain rock and house wall, and then in a secret house, no Confucian of the five schools could see it. To xiaocheng emperor, up to the talent of the general Liu Xiang, Zixin school secretary, began to get listed in the preface, written in the “record” “slightly”. However, the death of its “winter official” a, to “Kao Gong Ji” foot of the “.

Zhou Guan” until Liu Xiang, Liu Xin father and son proofread the secret documents were found and recorded. At the time of Wang Mang, due to Liu Xin’s request, “Zhou Guan” was included in the school official and renamed as “Zhou Li”. At the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Liu Xin’s disciple Du Zichun taught the study of the “Zhouli”, and the note writers rose up, Zheng Xuan preface cloud: “since the ancestor, the generalist DaZhongDaShi Zheng ShaoGan name Xing, and son of the great Sinon ZhongShi name ZhongZhong, so the discussion of the Lang WeiZiZhong, the middle of the service JiaJunJingBo, the South County Governor MaJiChang, all made the “Zhouli interpretation and commentary”.” (Preface to the Commentary on the Rites of Zhou) By the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Zheng Xuan, a master of scripture, made a commentary on it, and the Rites of Zhou leapt to the top of the “Three Rites”.

Regarding the authorship of the Rites of Zhou and its age, scholars have been debating it for a long time, as stated in the Summary of the Four Books: “(The Rites of Zhou) is the most recent among the scriptures, and its authenticity is as diverse as the litigation, which cannot be cited in detail”. Famous scholars in ancient times, and in modern times, such as Liang Qichao, Hu Shi, Gu Jie Gang, Qian Mu, Qian Xuan Tong, Guo Moruo, Xu Fu Guan, Du Guo Ziang, Yang Xiang Kui and other famous scholars, all intervened in this great discussion, and there are six kinds of statements, such as Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn, Warring States, Qin and Han, early Han, and Wang Mang forgery.

An important fact is that all the pre-Qin documents do not mention the book of Zhouli. In the pre-Qin literature, the more concentrated records of the pre-Qin official system are the “Zhou Official” chapter of the “Shang Shu” and the “King’s System” chapter of the “Xunzi”. Since the “Zhou Rites” was falsely described as a forgery by the modern school of literature, it was once regarded as a forbidden area by those who treat ancient Chinese history, and no one dared to quote it, which is really a great injustice. Through the proof of a large number of gold materials, its precious historical value has become more and more obvious. Although “Zhouli” is not the work of the Western Zhou, more than the Duke of Zhou, but it does preserve a large number of Western Zhou historical materials.

However, the “four library synopsis” of this contradictory explanation is: “the Zhou rites” made in the early Zhou, and the Zhou affairs can be studied only after the Spring and Autumn period, its more than three hundred years before the Eastern relocation of the official system of the evolution, the political code of the loss and gain, remove the old cloth new, I do not know how many. The beginning of the Chengkang is not far away, but because of its old chapter, a little change, and the change of people not all Zhou Gong also. So the law of the latter is tampered with, the book is mixed. Subsequently, the farther away, the time change, not feasible gradually more, the book was abolished. And quoted Zhang Zai “Heng Qu Qu Quotations”: “The Book of the Rites of the Zhou” is the book of the when, but there must be the end of the world added into it.” Until the late Qing dynasty Sun Yi-jean wrote “the justice of the rites of the week”, still insist that “the rites of the week” is the work of the Duke of Zhou: “Yuexie Duke of Zhou, inherit the will of Wen and Wu, light to assist the King, house in making the dire, I described the official government, in order to hang into the constitution, there is a Zhou generation of the code, the big preparation. (The preface of the Zhou Rites of Justice) But this conclusion has been questioned by many scholars in recent times. In fact, Sun Yijang “preface” itself also said: “this scripture on the inheritance of a hundred kings, set its good and remove its shortcomings”, “not only the canon of the Zhou generation also”, “is not all of the Zhou Gong’s GEL set and hand created! Most scholars today believe that the Rites of the Zhou were written during the Warring States period (and even in the early Han Dynasty).

Main contents

The Rites of the Zhou is a book that expresses the governmental system of the state and covers all aspects of social life. It contains the most systematic system of rituals, ranging from the state’s major rituals of sacrifice, pilgrimage, feudalism, patrol, funeral, etc., to specific norms such as the system of tripods, music suspension, chariots and horses, costumes, ritual jade, etc., as well as records of the ranks, combinations, forms, and degrees of various ritual instruments. Many of these systems are only found in this book and are therefore particularly valuable.

These institutional norms are divided into six categories of officials in the Rites of Zhou, which are called the “Six Codes” in “Tian Guan – Dazai”: “One is the Codes of Governance, in order to govern the state, to rule the government, to discipline the people; two is the Codes of Education, in order to secure the state, to teach the government, to disturb the people; three is the Codes of Rites, in order to harmonize the state, to unify the officials, to harmonize the people; four is the Political code, to level the state, to correct the hundred officials, in order to even the people; five is the penal code, to interrogate the state, to punish the hundred officials, to correct the people; six is the affairs of the code, to enrich the state, to appoint the hundred officials, to give birth to the people.” The “heavenly official – small zai” called the “six genera”: “one is the heavenly official, the genus of sixty, in charge of state governance”; “two is the earthly official, the genus of sixty, in charge of state education”; “three is the spring official, the genus of sixty, in charge of state education”. “Third, the spring official, its genus 60, in charge of the state rites”; “Fourth, the summer official, its genus 60, in charge of the state government”; “Fifth, the autumn official, its genus 60, in charge of the state punishment”; “Sixth, the winter official, its genus 60, in charge of the state punishment”. “Sixth, the winter official, its genera 60, in charge of state affairs”. The division of labor is roughly as follows.

Heavenly official Tsukazai, Dazai and the following a total of 63 kinds of officials, responsible for the affairs of the court.

The earth official Sizhu, the great Sizhu and the following 78 kinds of officials, responsible for civil affairs.

Spring official Zongbo, with 70 types of officials up to and including the Grand Zongbo, who are responsible for clan affairs.

the summer official Sima, the Grand Sima and the following 70 types of officials, responsible for military affairs

the autumn official Sikou, a total of 66 types of officials from the Grand Sikou and below, responsible for penal affairs

The winter official Hundred Works, involving the production of a total of 30 kinds of officials, responsible for building affairs.

Pseudo “Ancient Text Shang Shu – Zhou Officials” has a similar statement: “Tsuk Zai holds the rule of the state, unifies the hundred officials, and even the four seas; Situ holds the state education, applies the five codes, and disturbs the people; Zong Bo holds the state rituals, rules the gods, and the upper and lower; Sima holds the state government, unifies the six divisions, and pacifies the state; Sikou holds the state prohibition, interrogates evil thoughts, and punishes riots; Sikong holds the state land, lives in the four people, and the time and place.” But this statement may come out much later, and is just a copy and generalization of the heirloom “Zhouli”.

The reason why the Zhouli was renamed “Zhouli” from “Zhou Guan” means that, in the view of Han Confucians, all institutional norms of society could be summarized as “li”. This is because in traditional Chinese discourse, “rites” is a general term for all institutional norms. Although the earliest and narrowest use of the Chinese word “rites” refers to the rituals of “serving the gods to bring blessings” (Shuowen Jiezi), its broadest use refers to all institutional norms. Therefore, when Jia Gongyan talked about why the office of the spring official, who is in charge of rituals, cannot be said to be “rituals of the hundred officials”, but should be said to be “unifying the hundred officials”, he explained: “Rituals, so unifying all things, so the cloud ‘unifying the hundred officials ‘ also.” (Tianguan – Dazai) The so-called “unification of all things” means that “rites” is the unification of all institutional norms.

The institutional norms of the Rites of Zhou are not the actual institutions of the past society, but an ideal design for the future. If the Rites of the Zhou were indeed a product of the Warring States period, then its creation coincided with a period of transition in Chinese society and must have reflected the historical trends of that period, so its institutional design must have been aimed not at the social era before the transition, but at the social era after the transition. For this reason, it is necessary to briefly address the issue of the phasing of Chinese social history and scholarship. Chinese social history and its scholarship can be divided into three epochs, during which there were two periods of transition, roughly as shown in the following table.

Social History of China
The epochs in the table are called “kingship,” “imperial power,” and “people’s power” to indicate the changes in the exercisers of state sovereignty: king or son of heaven → emperor → citizen. The historical change of sovereignty exercisers is due to the change of life style and social subjects: clan → family → citizen. Although the clan society still speaks of patriarchal law, its patriarchal law no longer has the same status as the “family, state and world” of the patriarchal society, which is the essential difference. Economically, this is reflected in the change of ownership of the most important means of production: public ownership of land → private ownership of landlords → capitalism. Politically, it manifested itself in the change of the basic political system and its subjects: the collective rule of the blood aristocracy under the leadership of the king → the dictatorship of the emperor → the democratic politics of the citizens.

In terms of the context of its time, the Rites of the Zhou belonged to the category of “sub-schools” (Confucianism was one of the hundred schools of thought at that time, so the Book of Han – Art and Literature – A Brief History of the Sons of Confucius); the design of its system was directed toward the trend of social transformation. Only in this way did the actual influence of the Zhou Rites come later in the imperial era. For example, the “six ministries” of the “three provinces and six ministries” system, which was implemented from the Sui Dynasty, was modeled on the “six officials” of the Zhou Rites; in the Tang Dynasty, the six ministries were named as Officials, Household, Rites, Military, Penalties In the Tang Dynasty, the six ministries were named as Officials, Household, Rites, Military, Penalties, and Workers, which were followed by later generations as the main body of the central official system until the Qing Dynasty. Successive dynasties revised the system, such as the Tang “Kaiyuan six classics”, the Song “Kaibao Tongli”, the Ming “Daming set of rites”, etc., are also based on the “Rites of Zhou” as the blueprint, discretionary gains and losses made. Therefore, the Rites of the Zhou were not the classics of the era of kingship, but the classics of the era of imperial power. One of the tasks we face today is how to transform the Zhou Rites into a classic of the civil power era.

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