Five Classics‎ > ‎THE BOOK OF RITES‎ > ‎


1. When wearing the unhemmed sackcloth for a father, the son tied up his hair with a hempen band, and also when wearing it for a mother. When he exchanged this band for the cincture in the case of mourning for his mother, this was made of linen cloth.

A wife, when wearing the one year’s mourning of sackcloth with the edges even, had the girdle of the same, and the inferior hair-pin of hazel-wood, and wore these to the end of the mourning.

2. Ordinarily men wore the cap, and women the hair-pin; in mourning men wore the cincture, and women the same after the female fashion. The idea was simply to maintain in this way a distinction between them.

3. The dark-coloured staff was of bamboo; that paired and fashioned at the end was of eleococca wood.

4. When the grandfather was dead, and afterwards the grandson had to go into mourning for his grandmother, he, being the representative of the family through the death of his father, did so for three years.

5. The eldest son at the mourning rites for his father or mother, before bowing to a visitor who had come to condole with him, first laid his forehead to the ground as an expression of his sorrow.

When a Great officer came to condole with an ordinary officer, though it might be only in a case of the three months’ mourning the latter first laid his forehead to the ground.

A wife, at the rites for her husband or eldest son, bowed her head to the ground before she saluted a visitor; but in mourning for others, she did not do so.

6. The man employed to preside at the mourning rites was required to be of the same surname as the deceased parent; the wife so employed, of a different surname.

7. The son who was his father’s successor as now head of the family did not wear mourning for his mother who had been divorced.

8. In counting kindred and the mourning to be worn of them, the three closest degrees become expanded into five, and those five again into nine. The mourning diminished as the degrees ascended or descended, and the collateral branches also were correspondingly less mourned for; and the mourning for kindred thus came to an end.

9. At the great royal sacrifice to all ancestors, the first place was given to him from whom the founder of the line sprang, and that founder had the place of assessor to him. There came thus to be established four ancestral shrines. In the case of a son by another than the queen coming to be king, the same course was observed.

10. When a son other than the eldest became the ancestor of a branch of the same line, his successor was its Honoured Head, and he who followed him in the line was its smaller Honoured Head. After five generations there was a change again of the Honoured Head; but all in continuation of the High Ancestor.

11. Hence the removal of the ancestor took place high up in the line, and the change of the Honoured Head low down in it. Because they honoured the ancestor, they reverenced the Honoured Head; their reverencing the Honoured Head was the way in which they expressed the honour which they paid to the ancestor and his immediate successor.

12. That any other son but the eldest did not sacrifice to his grandfather showed that only he was in the direct line from the Honoured Head of their branch of the family. So, no son but he wore the three years unhemmed sackcloth for his eldest son, because the eldest son of no other continued the direct line of the grandfather and father.

13. None of the other sons sacrificed to a son of his own who had died prematurely, or one who had left no posterity. The tablet of such an one was placed along with that of his grandfather, and shared in the offerings made to him.

14. Nor could any of them sacrifice to their father; showing that the eldest son was the representative of the Honoured Head.

15. In the distinctions of the mourning for the kindred who are the nearest, the honoured ones to whom honour is paid, the elders who are venerated for their age, and as the different tributes to males and females; there are seen the greatest manifestations of the course which is right for men.

16. Where mourning would be worn from one’s relation with another for parties simply on the ground of that affinity, when that other was dead, the mourning ceased. Where it would have been worn for them on the ground of consanguinity, even though that other were dead, it was still worn.

When a concubine had followed a ruler’s wife to the harem, and the wife came to be divorced, the concubine, following her out of the harem, did not wear mourning for her son.

17. According to the rules, no one but the king offered the united sacrifice to all ancestors.

18. The heir-son of the king or a feudal lord did not diminish the mourning for the parents of his wife. For his wife he wore the mourning which the eldest and rightful son of a Great officer did for his.

19. When the father was an officer, and the son came to be king or a feudal prince, the father was sacrificed to with the rites of a king or a lord; but the personator wore the dress of an officer. When the father had been the son of Heaven, or a feudal lord, and the son was only an officer, the father was sacrificed to with the rites of an officer, but his personator wore only the dress of an officer.

20. If a wife were divorced while wearing the mourning for her father or mother-in-law, she put it off. If the thing took place while she was wearing the mourning for her own parents, and before she had completed the first year’s mourning, she continued to wear it for the three years; but if that term had been completed, she did not resume the mourning.

If she were called back before the completion of the year, she wore it to the end of that term; but if that term had been completed before she was called back, she went on wearing it to the regular term of mourning for parents.

21. The mourning which lasted for two complete years was held to be for three years; and that which lasted for one complete year for two years. The mourning for nine months and that for seven months was held to be for three seasons; that for five months for two; and that for three months for one. Hence the sacrifice at the end of the completed year was according to the prescribed rule; but the putting off the mourning or a part of it then was the course prompted by natural feeling. The sacrifice was not on account of the putting off of the mourning.

22. When the interment for some reason did not take place till after the three years, it was the rule that the two sacrifices proper at the end of the first and second years should then be offered. Between them, but not all at the same time, the mourning was put off.

23. If a relative who had himself to wear only the nine months’ mourning for the deceased took the direction of the mourning rites in the case of any who must continue their mourning for three years, it was the rule that he should offer for them the two annual terminal sacrifices. If one who was merely a friend took that direction, he only offered the sacrifice of Repose, and that at the placing of the tablet in the shrine.

24. When the concubine of an officer had a son, he wore the three months’ mourning for her. If she had no son, he did not do so.

25. When one had been born in another state, and had had no intercourse with his grand-uncles and aunts, uncles and cousins, and his father, on hearing of the death of any of them, proceeded to wear mourning, he did not do so.

26. If one did not through being abroad hear of the death of his ruler’s father or mother, wife or eldest son, till the ruler had put off his mourning, he did not proceed to wear any.

27. If it were a case, however, where the mourning was reduced to that of three months, he wore it.

28. Small servants in attendance on the ruler, who had followed him abroad, when he assumed mourning on his return, for relatives who had died when he was away, also put it on. Other and higher officers in his train also did so; but if the proper term for the mourning in the case were past, they did not do so. Those who had remained at home, though the ruler could not know of their doing so, had worn the regular mourning.

29. The presiding mourner, after the sacrifice of Repose, did not carry his staff in proceeding to his apartment; after the placing of the tablet of the deceased in the shrine of the grandfather, he did not carry it in going up to the hall.

30. The son of another lady of the harem, who had been adopted as the child of the childless wife of the ruler, when that wife died, did not go into mourning for her kindred.

31. The sash was shorter than the headband, by one-fifth of the length of the latter. The staff was of the same length as the sash.

32. For the ruler’s eldest son a concubine wore mourning for the same time as his wife, the son’s mother.

33. In putting off the mourning attire, they commenced with what was considered most important. In changing it, they commenced with what was considered least important.

34. When there was not the regular occasion for it, they did not open the door of the temple. All wailed in the mourning shed at other times.

35. In calling the dead back, and writing the inscription to be exhibited over the coffin, the language was the same for all, from the son of Heaven to the ordinary officer. A man was called by his name. For a wife they wrote her surname, and her place among her sisters. If they did not know her surname, they wrote the branch-name of her family.

36. The girdle of dolychos cloth assumed with the unhemmed sackcloth at the end of the wailing, and the hempen girdle worn when one first put on the hemmed sackcloth of one year’s mourning, were of the same size. The girdle of dolychos cloth assumed as a change in the hemmed sackcloth mourning, and that of hempen cloth at the beginning of the nine months’ mourning, were of the same size. When the occasion for assuming the girdle of the lighter mourning occurred, a man wore both it and the other together.

37. An early interment was followed by an early sacrifice of repose. But they did not end their wailing till the three months were completed.

38. When the mourning rites for both parents occurred at the same time, the sacrifices of repose and of the enshrining of the tablet, for the mother who was buried first, did not take place till after the burial of the father. The sackcloth worn at her interment was the unhemmed and jagged.

39. A Great officer reduced the period of mourning for a son by a concubine; but his grandson, the son of that son, did not reduce his mourning for his father.

40. A Great officer did not preside at the mourning rites for an ordinary officer.

41. For the parents of his nurse a man did not wear mourning.

42. When the husband had become the successor and representative of some other man than his own father, his wife wore the nine months’ mourning for his parents-in-law.

43. When the tablet of an ordinary officer was placed in the shrine of his grandfather who had been a Great officer, the victim due to him as an officer was changed for that due to a Great officer.

44. A son who had not lived with his step-father did not wear mourning for him. They must have lived together and both be without sons to preside at their mourning rites; and the stepfather moreover must have shared his resources with the son, and enabled him to sacrifice to his grandfather and father, in order to his wearing mourning for him;--under these conditions they were said to live together. If they had sons to preside at the mourning rites for them, they lived apart.

45. When people wailed for a friend, they did so outside the door of the principal apartment, on the left of it, with their faces towards the south.

46. When one was buried in a grave already occupied, there was no divination about the site in the second case.

47. The tablet of an ordinary officer or of a Great officer could not be placed in the shrine of a grandfather who had been the lord of a state; it was placed in that of a brother of the grandfather who had been an ordinary officer or a Great officer, The tablet of his wife was placed by the tablet of that brother’s wife, and that of his concubine by the tablet of that brother’s concubine.

If there had been no such concubine, it was placed by the tablet of that brother’s grandfather; for in all such places respect was had to the rules concerning the relative positions assigned to the tablets of father and son. The tablet of a feudal lord could not be placed in the shrine of the son of Heaven from whom he was born or descended; but that of the son of Heaven, of a feudal lord, or of a Great officer, could be placed in the shrine of an ordinary officer from whom he was descended.

48. For his mother’s mother, who had been the wife proper of her father, if his mother were dead, a son did not wear mourning.

49. The son who was the lineal Head of his new branch of the surname, even though his mother were alive, his father being dead, completed the full period of mourning for his wife.

50. A concubine’s son who had been reared by another, might act as son to that other; and she might be any concubine of his father or of his grandfather.

51. The mourning went on to the than ceremony for a parent, a wife, and the eldest son.

52. To a nursing mother, or any concubine who was a mother, sacrifice was not maintained for a second generation.

53. When a grown-up youth had been capped, and died, though his death could not be considered premature; and a young wife, after having worn the hair-pin, died, though neither could her death be said to be premature; yet, if they died childless, those who would have presided at their rites, if they had died prematurely, wore the mourning for them which they would then have done.

54. If an interment were delayed by circumstances for a long time, he who was presiding over the mourning rites was the only one who did not put off his mourning. The others having worn the hempen band for the number of months proper in their relation to the deceased, put off their mourning, and made an end of it.

55. The hair-pin of the arrow-bamboo was worn by an unmarried daughter for her father to the end of the three years’ mourning.

56. That in which those who wore the sackcloth with even edges for three months, and those who wore it for all the nine months’ mourning agreed, was the shoes made of strings of hemp.

57. When the time was come for the sacrifice at the end of the first year’s mourning, they consulted the divining stalks about the day for it, and the individual who was to act as personator of the deceased. They looked that everything was clean, and that all wore the proper girdle, carried their staffs, and had on the shoes of hempen-string. When the officers charged with this announced that all was ready, the son laid aside his staff, and assisted at the divinations for the day and for the personator. The officers having announced that these were over, he resumed his staff, bowed to the guests who had arrived in the meantime, and escorted them away. At the sacrifice for the end of the second year, the son wore his auspicious court robes, and divined about the personator.

58. The son of a concubine, living in the same house with his father, did not observe the sacrifice at the end of the mourning for his mother. Nor did such a son carry his staff in proceeding to his place for wailing.

As the father did not preside at the mourning rites for the son of a concubine, that son’s son might carry his staff in going to his place for wailing. Even while the father was present, the son of a concubine, in mourning for his wife, might carry his staff in going to that place.

59. When a feudal prince went to condole on the death of a minister of another state, being himself there on a visit, the ruler of that state received him and acted as the presiding mourner. The rule was that he should wear the skin cap and the starched sackcloth. Though the deceased on account of whom he paid his condolences had been interred, the presiding mourner wore the mourning cincture. If he had not yet assumed the full mourning dress, the visitor also did not wear that starched sackcloth.

60. One who was ministering to another who was ill did not do so in the mourning clothes which he might be wearing; and if the patient died, he might go on to preside at the mourning rites for him. But if another relative, who had not ministered to the deceased in his illness, came in to preside at the rites for him, he did not change the mourning which he might be wearing. In ministering to one more honourable than himself, the rule required a person to change the mourning he might be wearing, but not if the other were of lower position.

61. If there had been no concubine of her husband’s grandmother by whose tablet that of a deceased concubine might be placed, it might be placed by that of the grandmother, the victim offered on the occasion being changed.

62. In the mourning rites for a wife, at the sacrifices of repose and on the ending of the wailing, her husband or son presided; when her tablet was put in its place, her father-in-law presided.

63. An ordinary officer did not take the place of presiding at the mourning rites for a Great officer. It was only when he was the direct descendant of the Honoured Head of their branch of the surname that he could do so.

64. If a cousin arrived from another state to take part in the rites, before the presiding mourner had put off his mourning, the latter received him in the part of host, but without the mourning cincture.

65. The course pursued in displaying the articles, vessels to the eye of fancy, to be put into the grave, was this:--If they were too many as displayed, a portion of them might be put into the grave; if they were comparatively few as displayed, they might all be put into it.

66. Parties hurrying to the mourning rites for a brother or cousin whose burial had taken place first went to the grave and afterwards to the house, selecting places at which to perform their wailing. If the deceased had only been an acquaintance, they first wailed in the apartment where the coffin had been, and afterwards went to the grave.

67. A father at the mourning rites for any of his other sons did not pass the night in the shed outside the middle door, as for his eldest son by his wife.

68. The brothers and cousins of a feudal prince wore the unhemmed sackcloth in mourning for him.

69. In the five months’ mourning for one who had died in the lowest stage of immaturity, the sash was of bleached hemp from which the roots were not cut away. These were turned back and tucked in.

70. When the tablet of a wife was to be placed by that of her husband’s grandmother, if there were three who could be so denominated, it was placed by that of her who’ was the mother of her husband’s father.

71. In the case of a wife dying while her husband was a Great officer, and his ceasing, after her death, to be of that rank; if his tablet were placed on his death by that of his wife, the victim on the occasion was not changed from that due to an ordinary officer. But if her husband who had been an officer became a Great officer after her death, then the victim at the placing of his tablet by hers was that due to a Great officer.

72. A son who was or would be his fathers successor did not wear mourning for his divorced mother. He did not wear such mourning, because one engaged in mourning rites could not offer sacrifice.

73. When a wife did not preside at the mourning rites and yet carried the staff, it was when her mother-in-law was alive, and she did so for her husband. A mother carried the eleococca staff with its end cut square for the oldest son. A daughter, who was still in her apartment unmarried, carried a staff for her father or mother. If the relative superintending the rites did not carry the staff, then this one child did so.

74. In the mourning for three months and five months, at the sacrifice of repose and the ending of the wailing, they wore the mourning cincture.

After the interment, if they did not immediately go to perform the sacrifice of repose, they all, even the presiding mourner, wore their caps; but when they came to the sacrifice of repose, they all assumed the cincture.

When they had put off the mourning for a relative, on the arrival of his interment, they resumed it; and when they came to the sacrifice of repose and the ending of the wailing, they put on the cincture. If they did not immediately perform the sacrifice, they put it off.

When they had been burying at a distance, and were returning to wail, they put on their caps. On arriving at the suburbs, they put on the cincture, and came back to wail.

75. If the ruler came to condole with mourners, though it might not be the time for wearing the cincture, even the president of the rites assumed it, and did not allow the ends of his hempen girdle to hang loose. Even in the case of a visit from the ruler of another state, they assumed the cincture. The relatives all did so.

76. When they put off the mourning for one who had died prematurely, the rule was that at the accompanying sacrifice, the dress should be dark-coloured. When they put off the mourning for one fully grown, they wore their court robes, with the cap of white, plain, silk.

77. A son, who had hurried to the mourning rites of his father from a distance, bound up his hair in the raised hall, bared his chest, descended to the court, and there performed his leaping. The leaping over, he reascended, covered his chest, and put on his sash in an apartment on the east.

If the rites were for his mother, he did not bind up his hair. He bared his chest, however, in the hall, descended to the court, and went through his leaping. Reascending then, he covered his chest, and put on the cincture in the apartment on the east. In the girdle or the cincture, he proceeded to the appointed place, and completed the leaping. He then went out from the door of the coffin-room, and went to the mourning shed. The wailing commencing at death had by this time ceased. In three days he wailed five times, and thrice bared his chest for the leaping.

78. When an eldest son and his wife could not take the place hereafter of his parents, then, in the event of her death, her mother-in-law wore for her only the five months’ mourning.