Five Classics‎ > ‎THE I-LI‎ > ‎



I. The Commissioner Comes to Court. 

(a) Early on the morrow an under great officer goes to call on the commissioner at his quarters. 

(b) The commissioner, dressed in the skin cap suit, 1 goes to execute his commission. On arriving at the palace he enters the waiting-tent. 

(c) Then the presents are laid out. 2

2. Meeting the Commissioner. 

(a) A minister acts as principal usher, and a great and ordinary officer as second and third ushers respectively. 

(b) The ushers go out and ask the commissioner to state his business. 

(c) The Prince, in the skin cap suit, awaits the commissioner inside the great gate, 3 and the great officer, acting as usher, receives the commissioner. 

(d) The commissioner enters at the left* of the door. 

(e) The Prince bows twice, and the commissioner draws aside, as not daring to receive his bow. 

(f) The Prince then salutes and invites him to enter, 4 and at every gate and turn of their progress again salutes. 


(g) When they come to the door of the temple the Prince salutes, and, entering, stands in the centre of the court. 

(h] The commissioner enters and stands close to the western gate-house. 

3. The Ceremonial Used in Executing the Mission. 

(a) When the body-rest and mat for the spirit have been set in front of the stand on which the tablet 6 is displayed, the ushers come out of the temple and ask for instructions. 

(b) Then the commissioner's appraiser faces east, sits, opens the case, takes the symbol of authority, lets the wrapper hang down, and, without rising, hands the symbol to the chief of suite. 

(c) The chief of suite, without drawing together his coat,'' takes the symbol, and, folding it in its wrapper, hands it to the commissioner. 

(d) The commissioner draws his coat together and takes the symbol. 

(e) Then the usher enters to announce him, and, coming out, declines, on behalf of the Duke, the honour of receiving the symbol. 

(f) Then he receives the commissioner, w-ho enters by the left of the door. 

(g) The attendants all enter by the left of the door and stand facing north, and graded from the west. 

(h) The Prince and the commissioner salute one another in their progress up the court. 

(i) When they come to the steps each yields precedence thrice. 

(j) The Prince then ascends two of the eastern steps, and the commissioner, ascending, goes to the west of the western pillar and faces east. 


(k) Then the ushers withdraw to the centre of the court. 

(l) And the commissioner communicates his instructions to the Prince. 

(m) The Prince turns round by the left and faces north. 

(n) The ushers then advance to the west of the eastern steps, and the Prince, abreast the second rafter, bows twice. 

(o) The commissioner makes three steps backwards, until he stands with his back to the inner wall. 

(p) The Prince then draws forward one side of his coat^ and receives the jade symbol, standing between the central line of the court and the eastern pillar. 

(q) Then the usher withdraws, and stands with his back to the eastern gate-house. 

(r) Then the commissioner descends the steps, and the members of his suite go out in the reverse order of their entrance, followed by the commissioner. 

(s) Then the Prince hands the symbol to the steward, who is standing to one side. 

(t) And thereafter he lets his coat fall back to its usual position, and, going down the steps, stands in the centre of the court. 

4. The Presentation. 

(a) The usher goes out and asks the intentions of the commissioner, 

(b) The commissioner, with his coat open, and holding the bundle of silks with the round jade token laid on it, says he wishes to make this present. The usher enters and announces this, and comes out again to announce the Prince's consent. 

(c) Of the things to be laid in the court, the tiger and leopard skins are folded with the hair inside, and the 

hands of the bearers brought together. They are taken up thus and laid in place. 

(d) The commissioner enters by the left of the door, the salutes and yieldings of precedence being as before. 

(e) He ascends the steps, and, as he communicates his instructions, the skins are displayed. 

(f) The Prince bows twice and receives the presents. 

(g) The officers who receive the pelts come up from behind, keeping the strangers on their right hand. 

(h) The commissioner goes out, and as he arrives opposite the skins the officers receiving them sit and fold them up. 

(i) Then the Prince, at the side of the hall, hands over the present to the steward, and the skins are taken out as they were brought in, the heads being to the right, and are carried off to the east side. 

5. The Visit and Presentation to the Prince's Lady. 

When asking after the welfare of the Prince's lady, a jade half symbol is presented, and the jewel presented with the silks is star-shaped, the ceremonial being as above. 

6. When there is a Further Communication, 

If there be any further communication in addition to the friendly expressions of the usual mission, then rolls of silk are presented, with the ceremonial of the usual presentation. 

7. Pledging the Commissioner in Must. 

(a) The usher goes out and asks what business the commissioner still has, and receives the reply that the public business is finished. 


(b) Then the commissioner lifts a roll of brocade in both hands and asks for a private interview. 

(c) The usher goes in to announce this, and issues to decline on behalf of the Prince. 

(d) And then, on the Prince's behalf, he asks to be allowed to present a cup of must to the commissioner. The latter formally declines, but eventually consents, and the usher goes in and announces this. 

(e) The deputy-steward then removes the body-rest and takes away the mat. 

(f) And the Prince goes out to meet the com- missioner and brings him in, the salutes and yieldings of precedence being as before. 

(g) Then the Prince ascends the steps, and, going to the side, receives the body-rest at the end of the eastern inner wall. 

(h) The deputy dusts the inner side of the body-rest three times, and, taking it by the two ends, goes forward. 

(i) The Prince, facing south-east, dusts the outer side of the rest three times, and when that is done, shakes out his sleeve to remove the dust, and, taking the rest with both hands grasping the centre, goes forward and faces west. 

(j) Then the usher announces the Duke's intention to the commissioner. 

(k) The commissioner then goes forward to meet the Duke, and receives the body-rest in front of his mat, and stands at attention, facing east. 

(l) The Prince hands the rest to him with one bow, and the commissioner, taking the rest, draws aside. 

(m) Then he turns, and, facing north, sets the rest in its place. Without descending, he responds to the Duke's salutation with three kowtows at the top of the steps. 


(n) Then the deputy-steward fills a goblet with must, and lays a spoon on the goblet, with its handle from him.. 

(o) The Prince, at the side of the hall, receives the goblet. 

(p) The commissioner does not descend, but, bowing once, advances to the front of his mat, and taking the must, returns to his place, the Prince bowing as he invites him to drink. 

(q) Then the deputy-steward brings forward the splint and wooden holders with the dried flesh and hash, and the commissioner going on to his mat, the usher retires and stands with his back to the east gate- house. 

(r) The commissioner then makes an offering from the relishes, and uses the spoon to pour a triple libation of the must. Whereupon the things to be laid in the court are set out. 9

(s) The commissioner then descends from his mat, and, facing north, takes the spoon and goblet together, with the bowl of the spoon uppermost, and, sitting, sips the must. 

(t) The Prince presents the commissioner with rolls of silk. 

(u) Then the commissioner fixes the spoon securely, and, turning north, lays the goblet to the east of the relishes. 

(v) Then the usher comes forward to assist in the present-giving. 

(w) The commissioner descends the steps and declines the present. 

(x) The Prince also descends one step to decline the honour of his descending. 

(y) Then the commissioner strides up the steps two at a time, and says that he will do as he is ordered. 10


(z) After which he descends and bows. 

(aa) The Prince declines the honour of this salutation. 

(bb) And the commissioner ascends and kowtows twice, receiving the presents as he stands abreast of the eastern pillar, facing north. After this he retires, and, facing east, stands at attention. 

(cc) The Prince then bows once, and the guest descends, the Prince bowing twice. 

(dd) Then the commissioner takes hold of the horse on the left of the team to lead them all away. 

(ee) And the chief of suite receives the present at the commissioner's hand, while his followers meet the commissioner, and, taking the horses, lead them away. 

8. The Commissioner's Private Visit. 

(a) When the commissioner goes to have a private interview, he carries a roll of brocade in both hands, and has a team of four horses, led by their bridles by two men, one between each pair. He enters by the right 1^ of the door, and, facing north, lays down the present and kowtows twice. 

(b) The usher declines the gifts on behalf of the Prince, and the commissioner goes out. 

(c) Then the usher sits down, and, taking up the present, goes out, followed by two assistants leading the horses, and gives them back to the commissioner. They go out the door, and, facing west, stand to the south of the east gate-house. 

(d) Then the usher says : " Please receive the presents back." 

(e) The commissioner formally declines, but eventually does as he is asked. 

(f) The horses are led in again, the men in charge 


keeping them on their right, and are halted in the court, 

(g) The commissioner carries the present of silk in his two hands, and goes in by the left 12 of the door, the suite all going in by the same side and ranging themselves, graded from the west. 

(h) The Prince salutes, and yields precedence as before, when they go up, and the Duke, facing north, bows twice. 

(i) The commissioner steps back three times, and, turning about, goes round and stands with his back to the inner wall. 

(j) Then he shakes out the silk and presents it, standing abreast of the east pillar, and facing north. 

(k) The officers, who are to receive the horses on behalf of the Prince, go round from the front to the back of those who lead them, and, coming up on their right hand, receive them. 

(l) Those who have led the horses go forward, bear to the west, and so out. 

(m) The commissioner descends, and at the east of the steps bows, inviting the Prince to take the gift, and he declines. 

(n) The commissioner bows again, and the Prince, descending one step, declines. 

(o) Then the usher says : " My unworthy Prince follows your honour." The commissioner, although he is about to bow, goes up again. 

(p) He strides up the steps, the Prince standing, facing west. Then the commissioner at the head of the steps kowtows twice. 

(q) Whereupon the Prince withdraws slightly. 

(r) And the commissioner descends and goes out, the Prince at the side of the hall handing the


gifts to the steward, and the horses being taken away. 

(s) Then the Prince descends and stands in the court. 

9. The Private Visit of the Suite. 

(a) When the suite come to pay a private visit, the usher goes out and asks their business, and the chief of suite, carrying a bundle of brocade, with four officers of the suite bearing rolls of jewelled brocade, asks for a private interview. 

(b) The usher enters to announce them, and comes out to intimate the Prince's assent. Then the chief of suite takes up the present of silk, two of his assistants helping him by carrying pairs of skins. 

(c) All enter together by the right of the door, and, grading themselves from the east, lay down the presents, and kowtow twice. 

(d) The usher declines the presents on the Prince's behalf, and the members of the suite go out in the reverse order of their entering. 

(e) Then the usher takes up the principal present, and the officers in attendance take the rest, while two assistants take up the skins, and, following the presents, go out and ask the visitors to take them back. 

(f) They then lay out the skins, facing south. 

(g) And the carriers of the presents range them- selves facing west, and graded from the north, while the usher invites the visitors to receive them back. 

(h) The suite formally decline, but ultimately con- sent, and, going forward together to meet the others, take each the present he brought. 

(i) Then the chief of suite lifts the present, and, preceded by the others carrying the skins, goes in by the left of the door, and they lay down the skins. 

(7) The Prince then bows twice. 

(k) Then the suite shake out the brocades, and, passing by the west side of the skins, go forward, and, standing facing north, hand over the presents. They then withdraw, and, returning to their places, kowtow twice over against the presents they brought. 

(l) Then the suite go out, and the steward, going by the left side of the Prince, takes the presents, two assistants, sitting, lifting the skins, and taking them to the east side. 

(m) Then the usher again receives the officers of the suite. 

(n) These enter by the right of the door, lay down the presents, and kowtow twice. 

(o) The usher declines these for the Prince, and the suite go out in the reverse order of their entering. Then the usher takes the principal present, and, going out formally asks them to receive it back ; but they persist in their refusal. 

(p) The Prince responds with two bows, and the usher, going out, stands in the centre of the doorway to assist by conveying the Prince's sentiment to the guests. 

(q) The officers of the suite all draw aside together. 

(r) Three of the Prince's officers, graded from the south, sit down, take up the remaining presents, and stand up. 

(s) The usher advances. 

(t) And the deputy-steward receives the chief presents in the middle of the court, and takes them to the east side. 

(u) Then the officers who carry the other presents follow him in their order, and hand over the presents they hold. 



To face p. 208. 

10. The Commissioner Leaves the Prince, Bidding Him Farewell, 

(a) The usher goes out to ask the will of the com- missioner, and the latter announces that his business is finished. The usher then enters and communicates this, and the Prince comes out to bid farewell to the commissioner. 

(b) When they reach the inner side of the great door, the Prince asks after the health of the commissioner's lord, and the commissioner replies suitably, the Prince bowing twice. Then the Prince asks after the great officers, and the commissioner replies to this inquiry also. 

(c) Then the Prince expresses his sympathy with the commissioner on the toils of the road, and he kowtows twice, the Prince replying with two bows. The Prince also expresses sympathy with the staff, who all kowtow twice, the Prince responding with two bows. 

(d) Then the commissioner leaves the Prince bidding him farewell with two bows, and the commissioner not looking back. 

(e) Then the commissioner asks permission to inter- view the great officers, 13 and the Prince, after formally declining the honour, gives his permission. 

11. The Ministers and Great Officers Express Sympathy with the Commissioner and His Suite, 

(a) The commissioner goes to his quarters. 

(b) The ministers and great officers go to express sympathy with the commissioner, but he does not grant them an interview. 14 

VOL. I. 209 p 

(c) The great officers then lay down a wild goose outside his outer door and bow twice, the chief of suite receiving the present. 

(d) The expressing of sympathy with the chief of suite is gone through in the same fashion.