An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zhuzi jiali 朱子家禮

Sep 13, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhuzi jiali 朱子家禮 "Master Zhu's family rituals", briefly called Jiali 家禮, is a collection of ritual prescriptions compiled by the Neo-Confucian master Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200). It is widely accepted that the 5-juan long book was written by Zhu Xi himself, but the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Wang Maohong 王懋竑 (1668-1741) called it a forgery, an opinion that was followed by the compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書, because some statements contradict the teachings of Zhu Xi in his later years.

The book is divided into five parts that explain different types of auspicious (jili 吉禮) and inauspicious (xiongli 凶禮) rites, namely capping rites (guanli 冠禮), nuptial rites (hunli 婚禮), funeral rites (sangli 喪禮) and ancestral offerings (jili 祭禮). It begins with a chapter on "general principles of ritual" (ch. Tongli 通禮) where the ancestral offering hall (citang 祠堂) is described and the various duties there, methods of fashioning the the long garment (shenyi zhidu 深衣制度), and miscellaneous etiquette for family life as described by Sima Guang (Simashi jujia zayi 司馬氏居家雜儀).

Many paragraphs are commented quotations from the ritual classics Yili 儀禮 and Liji 禮記 that belong to the canon of the Confucian Classics. The author underlines the statements by quoting examples from other texts, and so elevates them to a quasi-jurisdictional standard. The Zhuzi jiali covers virtually all ritual aspects in private life. It was influenced by Zhu Xi's commentary to one of the ritual classics, Yili jingzhuan tongjie 儀禮經傳通解.

Table 1. Contents of Zhu Xi's Jiali 家禮
1 通禮 Tongli General principles of ritual
2 冠禮 Guanli The capping ceremony
3 昏禮 (=婚禮) Hunli Weddings
4 喪禮 Sangli Funerals
5 祭禮 Jili Sacrificial rites

The Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Qiu Jun 邱浚 (1421-1495) wrote a critical essay on it, Jiali yijie 家禮儀節, in which he pointed out a dozen substantial errors in the text, and so initiated a series of commentaries on Zhu Xi's book.

Quotation 1. Weddings
男子年十六至三十,女子年十四至二十。 Men from sixteen to thirty and women from fourteen to twenty are permitted to marry,
【司馬温公曰:古者男三十而娶,女二十而嫁。今令文男年十五,女年十三以上,並聴昏嫁,今為此説,所以參古今之道,酌禮令之典,順天地之理,合人情之宜也。】 【Sima, Duke Wen, 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. 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 principles and human feelings."】
身及主昏者,無朞以上喪,乃可議昏。 so long as neither the principals nor those presiding at the marriage are in mourning graded at a year or longer.
【大功未葬,亦不可主昏。凡主昏如冠禮主人之法,但宗子自昏,則以族人之長為主。】 必先使媒氏往來通言,俟女氏許之,然後納采。 【One cannot be presiding man if in mourning graded at "greater processed cloth" until after the burial. The man presided at the wedding is selected on the same principle as a man presiding at a capping, except that if the descent-line heir is the one being married, he should hava a senior patrilineal kinsman serve as presiding man.】
必先使媒氏往來通言,俟女氏許之,然後納采。 The first requirement is to have an intermediary go back and forth between the families to carry out the negotiations. Once the girl's family has agreed to the wedding, the betrothal gift may be presented.
【司馬温公曰:凡議昏姻,當先察其壻(同“婿”)與婦之性行,及家法何如,切茍慕其富貴,壻茍賢矣,今雖貧賤,安知異時不富貴乎?茍為不肖,今雖富盛,安知異時不貧賤乎?婦者,家之所由盛衰也。[...]】 【Sima, Duke Wen, said: "in negotiationg marriages, one ought first to look into the character, behaviour, and family traditions of the bride and groom. Do not unreasonably covet wealth and rank. If the groom is worthy, even if he is at present poor and of low rank he may well become rich and high-ranking later. But if he is unworthy, even if he is rich and successful now, there is no guarantee that he will not later loose his wealth and rank. Whether a family thrives or declines depends on the wife. [...]"】
Translation by Buckley Ebrey 1991: 49-50.

Zhu Xi's book was not the first on rituals and ceremonies in a private context. The historian Sima Guang 司馬光 (1019-1086) had written a book of 10 juan called Shuyi 書儀 "Writings on ceremonies" (or Simashi shuyi 司馬氏書儀) whose idea was based on several earlier texts with that title. Sima's book focused on Zheng Xuan's 鄭玄 (127-200) interpretation of the ritual classics and amended the shortcomings of his commentaries. Compared with Zhu Xi's book, the "private rituals" of Sima Guang were much more detailed, and relied more on the Classic Yili than on the "old rituals" (Guli 古禮, i.e. Liji). The Shuyi was printed in 1192 and is found in the series Xuejin taoyuan 學津討源 and Tongzhitang jingjie 通志堂經解.

Zhu Xi's Jiali itself is found in the series Hongshi Gongshantang congshu 洪氏公善堂叢書, Siku quanshu and Xijing qinglu congshu 西京清麓叢書.

There is a complete translation by Patricia Buckley Ebrey (1991), Chu Hsi's Family Rituals: A Twelfth-Century Chinese Manual for the Performance of Cappings, Weddings, Funerals and Ancestral Rites (Princeton: Princeton University Press).

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