Chu Hsi's "Family Rituals"

Chu Hsi's "Family Rituals": A Twelfth-Century Chinese Manual for the Performance of Cappings, Weddings, Funerals, and Ancestral Rites

Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 272
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Chu Hsi's "Family Rituals"
    Book Description:

    Compiled by the great Neo-Confucian philosopher Chu Hsi (1130-1200), theFamily Ritualsis a manual for the private performance of the standard Chinese family rituals: initiations, weddings, funerals, and sacrifices to ancestral spirits. This translation makes the work, which is the most important text of its kind in the last thousand years of Chinese history, fully accessible to scholars and students in a wide range of fields. The militantly ConfucianFamily Ritualswas designed to combat the practices of Buddhist and other non-Confucian rites, and it was quickly recognized as the standard authority by the state, the educated elite, and even by many uneducated commoners. With the spread of Neo-Confucianism, it was honored also in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. Patricia Buckley Ebrey has added notes showing how theFamily Ritualsenhances our understanding of Chinese society and culture. She cites many of the commentaries on the work to give a sense of its uses in the centuries after its publication.

    Originally published in 1991.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6195-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)

    TheFamily Rituals,compiled by the great Neo-Confucian philosopher Chu Hsi (1130–1200), is a manual for the private performance of the standard Chinese family rituals: initiations, weddings, funerals, and sacrifices to ancestral spirits. It was among the best-known books of late imperial China. In the 1720s the French missionary Jean-Francois Foucquet (1665–1741) reported that the book was second in popularity only to theAnalects,and that copies of it could be found in almost every home in China.¹ In the 1880s Charles de Harlez said theFamily Ritualswas one of the best known of Chu Hsi’s works...

    (pp. 3-4)
  8. CHAPTER ONE General Principles of Ritual
    (pp. 5-34)

    The content of this chapter is devoted to the regular forms of the daily courtesies of families, the ones that cannot be neglected for even one day.

    This section originally was part of the chapter on sacrificial rites.³ Now I have purposely placed it here, making it the first subject, because its contents form the heart of “repaying one’s roots and returning to the beginning,”⁴ the essence of “honoring ancestors and respecting agnatic kin,”⁵ the true means of preserving status responsibilities in the family, and the foundation for establishing a heritage and transmitting it to later generations. My arrangement will...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Capping Ceremony
    (pp. 35-47)

    Any young man from fifteen to twenty years of age may be capped.¹

    The venerable Ssu-ma [Kuang] said, “The ancients performed capping at twenty as a ritual through which a youth was charged with acting as an adult. That is, ‘one then expected of the young man the conduct of a son, a younger brother, a subject, and a junior.’² Therefore the ceremony had to be treated seriously. In recent times, people are flippant in their attitude toward it.³ Very few boys are still wearing ‘hair horns’ beyond ten.⁴ What can such boys know about expectations of the four kinds...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Weddings
    (pp. 48-64)

    Men from sixteen to thirty and women from fourteen to twenty are permitted to marry, so long as neither the principals nor those presiding at the marriage are in mourning graded at a year or longer.

    The venerable Ssu-ma [Kuang] said, “In antiquity men married at thirty and women at twenty. In our current law the minimum permissible age for marriage is fifteen for men and thirteen for women.¹ In setting the ages as I have here, I examined both ancient and recent moral principles, considered the middle ground of the rituals and laws, and tried to accord with natural...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Funerals
    (pp. 65-152)

    When the illness is acute, move the dying person to the main room.

    Whenever an illness gets acute, move the person to the main room.¹ Those within and without should be calm, waiting for the breath to stop.² A man should not expire in the hands of a woman, nor a woman in the hands of a man.³

    Once the person has expired, wail, then perform the calling-back ceremony.

    A servant takes an outer garment that the deceased has worn, the collar in his left hand and the waist in his right, and climbs up onto the front eaves of...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Sacrificial Rites
    (pp. 153-178)

    For the seasonal sacrifices, use the second month of the season.²

    During the preceding ten-day period, divine to choose the day.³

    At the beginning of the last ten-day period of the first month of spring select atingor ahaiday in each of the three ten-day periods of the second month.⁴

    The presiding man, in full attire, stands outside the inner door of the offering hall, facing west, his brothers to the south and a little behind him, the most senior to the north; his sons and grandsons behind him in rows, facing north, in order of rank...

  13. APPENDIX A: Editions of Chu Hsi’s Family Rituals
    (pp. 179-182)
  14. APPENDIX B: Chinese Text of Chu Hsi’s Family Rituals
    (pp. 183-212)
    (pp. 213-220)
    (pp. 221-228)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 229-234)