Five Classics‎ > ‎THE I-LI‎ > ‎



I. The Bride visits her Father- and Mother-in-Law. 

(a) Rising at break of day, the bride performs her ablutions, puts on the coif-cloth and pin and the dark clothes, and goes to wait for an interview, outside the private apartments of her parents-in-law. 

(b) When it is fully light an assistant announces to them her coming. Then a mat having been spread at the top of the eastern steps, the father-in-law goes to it, while another is laid to the west of the chamber door, and facing south, and to this the mother-in-law goes. 

(c) Then the bride takes a basket of dates and chestnuts,1 and, entering the door, 2 ascends by the western steps. She goes forward, and bowing, lays the basket 3 before the mat." 4 

(d) The father-in-law lays his hand on her gifts, rises, and returns her bow, whereupon she returns to her former place and bows again. 

(e) Going down the west steps, she takes a basket of dried spiced meat, and, reascending the steps, advances and bows with her face to the north, after which she lays the basket on her mother-in-law's mat. The mother-in-law, sitting, takes the basket, rises, bows, and hands it to the assistant. 


2. Giving Must to the Bride. 

(a) The parents-in-law then help the bride to must. 

(h) The mat for her is spread outside the room, between the door and the window. 

(c) The single wine-holder is a jar of must set in the chamber. The bride stands in an attitude of expectancy to the west of this mat. 

(d) The assistant ladles out the must, and lays on the cup a spoon, with its handle to the front. He issues from the chamber, and stands in front of the mat, with his face to the north. The bride faces east, bows, and takes the cup. Then the assistant, at the top of the west steps, faces north and bows, inviting her to drink. She bows again, and forthwith dried flesh and hash are served. 

(e) The bride goes to her mat, and, grasping the cup in her left hand, makes an offering of the relishes with her right, and thereafter pours a triple libation of must with the spoon. She leaves the mat, and, facing east, sits down and sips the must. Thereafter she puts the spoon in the goblet, and, rising, bows. The assistant then bows in return, whereupon she bows, and lays dov/n the cup to the east of the relishes ; then faces north, and, sitting down, lifts the dried flesh, and, rising, goes down the steps and out, handing the flesh to her attendant outside the door. 

3. The Bride presents Food to her Parents-in-Law. 5 

(a) The parents-in-law then enter the room, and the daughter-in-law washes her hands and presents food to them. 

(6) This consists of a young pig, the two halves 6 of the carcass being laid on separate stands ; but no fish, game, or panelled millet being served with the pork. 


The stands are laid side by side, and graded from the south, the condiments being as at the bridal meal. 

(c) The bride assists the parents-in-law at their offering before eating, and when the eating is finished, one cup is drunk, with nothing to follow it." 

(d) The mat for the bride is spread at the foot of the north wall. 

(e) The bride removes the remains of the meal and places them in front of her mat in the order in which they were laid out before the parents, grading them from the west. She then proceeds to eat these remains ; but the father-in-law declines to allow it, and sets down fresh sauce, because the other had been soiled by his fingers. 

(f) Then the bride proceeds to eat her mother-in- law's leavings, the driver assisting her to offer the relishes, the glutinous millet and the lung. She heaves up the lung and the spine, and then eats of them. When she is finished, her mother-in-law offers her a digestif, which she receives with a bow, the mother- in-law bowing as she invites her to drink it. She sits down, pours a libation, and finishes the cup, which the mother-in-law receives and places in the cup-basket. 

(g) The bride then removes the food to the chamber, where the remains are eaten by the bridesmaid and the driver, 8 the mother-in-law handing them cups of wine. Although the bridesmaid may not happen to be the bride's younger sister, she is given precedence of the driver. On this occasion they use the inversion which obtained when the bride and bridegroom had eaten. 

4. The Parents-in-Law give a Feast 9 to the Bride. 

(a) The father- and mother-in-law unite in giving a feast to the bride, using the ceremonial of the single 


offering of wine. The father-in-law washes the cup at the southern water-jar below the east steps, and the mother-in-law washes hers at the northern jar in the chamber, and at the conclusion of the drinking ceremony the cup is laid down to the east of the relishes. 

(b) The father- and mother-in-law then descend before the bride by the western steps to indicate their demission of their position in the house, and the bride thereafter descends by the eastern steps, assuming the position they have demitted. 

(c) The stand used by the bride is sent back to her people, with the remaining meat on it. 

5. The Entertainment of the Escort. 

(a) The father-in-law, when entertaining the bride's escort, uses the ceremonial of the single presentation of the cup. He accompanies this pledging with bundles of silk brocade. The mother-in-law, in feasting the women of the escort, also presents rolls of brocade along with the cups. 

(b) Should the bride have come from another State, parting presents of rolls of brocade are given to her escort, who in this case are men only. 

6. The Presentation of Vegetables. 

(a) If the parents of the bridegroom have died before the marriage takes place, then three months after the event the bride goes to the ancestral temple and offers vegetables. 10 

(b) The mat is spread for the father's spirit in the lounge, facing east ; another for the spirit of the mother on the north side, facing south, with, in each case, a body-rest to the right. 


(c) The liturgist 11 and the bride both wash their hands at the water -jar outside the temple door. Then the bride takes up her basket of vegetables, and the liturgist leads the way into the room. In making the announcement to the spirit of the father- in-law the liturgist says, using the bride's own surname : " Miss So-and-so, who has come to your family as a wife, presumes to set these beautiful vegetables before her noble father-in-law, his honour So-and-so." 

(d) The bride bows, hands to the ground, 12 and, sitting thereafter, lays down the vegetables to the east of the body-rest, and at the head of the mat. When she has gone back to her place she bows again as before. 

(e) Then she goes down from the hall, and takes another basket of vegetables, with which she enters the room. In announcing her the liturgist says : " Miss So-and-so, who has come as a wife to your family, ventures to announce herself to her noble mother-in- law, né    e So-and-so." She places the vegetables on the mat, and conducts the rest of the ceremony as before. 

(f) The bride leaves, and the liturgist closes the window and the door. 13 

(g) Thereafter an old servant of the family treats the bride to must in the chamber, facing south, and using the same ceremonial as the parents would have used if they were alive. 

7. The Feast, when the Parents-in-Law are Dead. 

The feasting of the men and women of the bride's escort is done by the bridegroom with the same ceremony as his father and mother would have used. 



To face p. 33. 

8. Sixteen Notes. 

(i) The Time and the Things used. 

(a) In the ceremonial at the marriage of an officer's son the acts are timed for dusk 14 (in the case of the bridegroom) or dawn (in the case of the messengers). All the intimations are received in the ancestral temple. 15 There is nothing improper 16 in the language and so disgrace is avoided. 

(b) No dead animals are used as presents, and the skins and silks are such as are capable of being made into articles of use. 

(c) For the dried game they use carcasses that have been freshly killed and cured. The fish used are of the perch kind. The beasts killed must be perfect. 

(2) The '' Pinning" 17 of a Girl (a) When a girl is promised in marriage, she is formally invested with the hairpin, and treated with must, getting her Style at the same time. 

(6) Then, if the shrine 18 of her great-great-grand- father has not been eliminated, she is taught deportment and handiwork for three months in the palace of the reigning Duke ; otherwise her education is conducted for three months in the house of the chief of the sept. 

(3) On Asking the Bride's Name. When the girl's name is being asked, her father, having received the goose, turns and faces west before replying. 

(4) The Regulation for the Libation of the Must and the Taking of the Dried Flesh. 

In offering the must the offerer dips the spoon into the goblet and pours one libation ; then dips again and 


pours two. The guest lifts the dried flesh in his right hand, and then uses the left to hold it up. When he has finished, he takes the flesh with him and holds it when making his report. 

(5) On Carrying the Skins. 

(a) In presenting the evidences they take the skins, and fold them with the coloured surface inside, holding the feet together, the head being to the left. The carriers enter one after the other, and grade from the west. They then advance up one-third of the court. 

(b) When the messenger has communicated his message, the carriers drop the oft'-legs and display the coloured hair. The father of the girl receives the silks, and the attendants appointed to receive the skins come out from the east side, and, passing behind the carriers, stand on their left and take the skins. They then sit down and double up the skins, and return in order the reverse of that in which they came forward, retiring to the east outer wall. 

(6) The Pledging of the Daughter and the Mounting of the Chariot. 

(a) The father pledges his daughter with must in the chamber, and then awaits the bridegroom's coming in person to meet the bride. The mother at the same time stands outside the chamber, facing south. 

(h) The girl goes out by her mother's left hand, and the father, taking his stand at the head of the eastern steps, with his face to the west, admonishes her that she shall preserve her integrity of character. As to her clothes and hairpin, her mother, standing at the head of the western steps, admonishes her with regard to these. Neither of the parents goes with her down the steps. 


(c) As the bride mounts the chariot, she makes use of a body-rest. Two of the attendants steady it, sitting one on each side. 

(7) On the Dark Wine. When the bride enters the door of her husband's private apartments, the cover of the wine-holder is removed by the attendant, and three measures of Dark Wine are ladled into the holder, the rest of the water being thrown out below the hall and between the steps. Thereafter a ladle is put on the jar. 

(8) On the Basket. The covering of this basket is of black cloth on the outside, and crimson within, and it is laid on a stand provided for the purpose. After the father has bowed his reply, the basket is removed by the steward. 

(9) On the Feasting of the Bride, and the Feastings by the Women of Each Other. 

(a) The mat for the bride, and the relishes are laid out in the chamber. 

(b) At the feasting of the bride the mother-in-law brings on the relishes, while the cup is offered by the father-in-law. 

(c) The water-jar for the use of the women is placed in the northern part of the chamber, in a line with the north-east corner of the room, and with a cup-basket to the east of it. They face north to wash their hands. 

(d) When the bride offers a toast to her father-in- law she changes the cup, and herself brings forward the relishes. 

(e) The bride does not dare to accompany her father-in-law down the steps to excuse herself the honour of his washing a cup for her ; so when he descends, she withdraws into the chamber, and does 


not dare to bow in acknowledgment of the washing, as these would be the acts of an equal. 

(f) In their entertainment of one another the women do not go down the steps to wash the cups. 

(10) On the Time after which a Wife may take Part in the Sacrifices. 

It is not until she has been three months in her husband's house that a woman may take part in sacrifices. 

(11) In the Case of the Wife of a Son by a Concubine. 

In such a case someone is deputed to pledge the bride, and she does not offer food to her parents-in-law. 

(12) Forms for the Five Different Occasions in Connection with the Preliminaries of the Marriage Ceremony. 

(a) The form used when first speaking of the marriage is to the usher : " His honour, of his grace, is giving a housewife to So-and-so." 

(b) " My master So-and-so, in accordance with the custom of the ancients, has sent me. Will you be good enough to receive this present ?" 

(c) The reply to this is : " My daughter is dull and unteachable, but if his honour lays his commands on me, I cannot refuse to obey them." 

(d) Then, when the messenger communicates his message to the father of the girl, he says : " I presume to offer this present." 

(e) In asking for the girl's name the messenger says to the usher : " I am instructed that my master is about to submit the name to divination. I venture to ask her name." 19

(f) To this the reply is: "Since it is his honour who commands it, and who, moreover, has selected 


this girl from among my poor stock, I dare not decline to comply." 

(g) At the treating of the messenger the host says : " Since your honour has come on business to my house, I use the custom of ancient time, and ask to be allowed as an assistant to offer you must." 

(h) To which the reply is : " Since the business which I have come upon is already finished, I venture to decline the honour." 

(i) To this the host replies : " According to the custom of the ancients, I venture to press my invitation." 

(j) And the guest answers : '' Since I cannot secure permission to decline, dare I do other than obey ?" 

(k) In taking word of the favourable result of the divination, the messenger says : " Your honour communicated the name, and commanded that it be submitted to divination. The result is favourable, and my master has sent me to report, as I venture to do now." 

(l) The reply of the girl's father is: " My child is without instruction, and I fear that she will be unworthy. But if luck accrues to her, I shall share it, so I dare not decline the alliance." 

(m) At the sending of the evidences the messenger says to the usher : "His honour has communicated his distinguished intention to present a wife to So-and-so. My master, in accordance with the custom of the ancients, sends a pair of skins and a bundle of silk, ordering me to invite your honour to accept these evidences." When he communicates his message to the father, he says : " So-and-so ventures to present these evidences." 

(n) The reply is : " His honour, in accordance with the custom of the ancients, has sent me this rich present, which I dare not refuse. Dare I neglect to implement his instructions ?" 


(o) In asking for the time the messenger says : '' His honour has commanded, and my master has already hastened to receive his commands. There is no occasion for mourning among the three grades 20 of his relations just now, and so he sends me, who dare to ask you to name the happy day." 

(p) The reply to this is : "I have received his honour's commands, and they shall be obeyed." 

(q) The messenger then says: "So-and-so has ordered me to receive your honour's commands." 

(r) The girl's father then replies : " I am determined to give heed to his honour's commands." 21 At which the messenger answers : "So-and-so has sent me to receive your commands ; but if your honour is unwilling to name a day, dare I not do it ?" He there-upon says : " It will take place on such and such a day." 

(s) To this the girl's father replies : " Dare I not respectfully wait on his honour's pleasure?" 

(t) When the messenger returns, he says in reporting : " The work entrusted to me is carried out, and I venture to bring to your notice the ceremonial presents entrusted to me, and report." 

(u) At this the host replies : "I receive the message." 

(13) The Words used at the Pledging of the Son by His Father. 22 

(a) When the father pledges his son, as the latter is about to set out to meet his bride, he commands him saying : " Go meet your helpmeet, and so enable me to fulfil my duties in the ancestral temple. 23 

(b) " Be diligent in taking the lead as husband, but with respectful consideration, for she is the successor of your mother. Thus will the duties of the women in our family show no signs of decay." 24 

(c) To which the son replies : " Yes, but I fear I shall not be equal to the task. Still, I dare not neglect your commands." Whereupon he bows and accepts the cup. 

(14) The Words Used at the Meeting in Person and at the Escorting of the Bride. 

(a) When the son-in-law arrives to claim his bride, the usher invites him to state his business. He re- plies : " His honour has ordered my father to send me this evening with instructions to fulfil his honour's commands." To this the girl's father replies : " I am determined respectfully to provide all that is necessary, and wait on his pleasure." 

(b) As the father is conducting his daughter to the steps, he says: "Be careful and reverent. Day in day out disobey no command of your new parents." 

(c) When the mother is giving the girl her bridal sash, and tying on the handkerchief, she says : " Be diligent and reverent. Day in day out disobey no rule of the household." 

(d) When her father's concubine has accompanied her to the inner side of the temple gate, she gives her a purse-girdle, and emphasizes the parents' commands, instructing her as follows: " Reverently regard what they said to you. Observe what they told you. Day in day out let there be no fault to find with you. When you look at this girdle remember these things." 

(e) In declining the mounting-strap on behalf of the bride, the duenna says : " She has not been taught, and so has not knowledge sufficient to exchange ceremonies with you." 

(15) Instructing the Messenger. 

(a) If the father of the son and heir is dead, then the mother gives the instructions to the messenger 


If both parents are dead, he himself gives the instructions. 

(b) In a like case the son of a concubine issues the instructions in the name of the son and heir. 

(c) In like circumstances also a younger brother issues the instructions in the name of his elder brother. 

(16) If there has been no Meeting in Person of the Bride? 25 

(a) If the bridegroom does not go in person to meet the bride, then three months after 26 the bride has gone to her new home, he goes to visit her parents, and says : "I, who have already secured this alliance without coming to the house, now ask for an interview." 

(b) To this the father-in-law replies : " I have already obtained a share in this alliance accomplished without this house, but as my child has not yet taken part in the washing of the sacrificial vessels, I did not dare to pay you a visit. Now, however, your honour has demeaned himself by coming to my house. I pray you return to your mansion, and I shall hurry off to visit you." 

(c) The son-in-law replies: "I have come with no other purpose than this visit, and I have no sufficient reason for allowing you to demean yourself by doing as you say. I pray you be good enough to end this by granting me an interview." 

(d) The father answers : " Since you give the marriage as your reason, I dare not persist in declining. Dare I not permit the interview ?" 

(e) Then the father-in-law goes out by the left of the door, and stands facing west, while the son-in-law, entering the great door, stands facing east, and lays down 2' the pheasant which he has brought as a present. Then, bowing twice, he goes out. 


(f) The usher then takes the gift out the door, and asks the visitor to take it and hand it to his father- in-law. 

(g) He formally declines, but ultimately consents, and, taking the pheasant, enters. The father-in-law bows twice as he takes it, the son-in-law bowing twice as he invites him to accept it, and then going out. 

(h) In order to visit his mother-in-law he again enters, and she stands within the eastern leaf of the door, which she has shut to. 

(i) The son-in-law stands outside the door, with his face to the east. Then the lady bows once, and he replies. She bows a second time, and he goes away. 

(j) The father-in-law then invites the son-in-law to drink must, and, after mutually bowing and yielding precedence, they enter. In drinking, the single offering of the cup is used, and the mother-in-law serves the relishes. After the son-in-law lays down the cup, there is no present given. 

(k) When the son-in-law goes away the father-in-law takes leave of him with two bows.