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Da-Tang kaiyuan li 大唐開元禮

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Da-Tang kaiyuan li 大唐開元禮 "Ritual (Canon) of the Kaiyuan Reign of the Great Tang Dynasty" was compiled under the supervision of Xiao Song 蕭嵩, who was XXX 太子太師 and 中書門下三品兼中書令. The chapter on rituals in Du You's 杜佑 encyclopaedia Tongdian 通典 and these in the official dynastic histories Jiutangshu and Xintangshu explain that in the beginning of the Tang period there were still no rules for rituals, and therefore, whenever important ceremonies were to be conducted, ad-hoc decisions were taken. During the Kaiyuan reign XXX of Emperor XXX 通事舍人 Wang Yan 王岩 submitted a memorial to the throne in which he pointed at the need to compile a ritual code. This was to be based on the ceremonies described in the ancient Classic Liji 禮記, and to enriched with new rules. The XXX 集賢學士 Zhang Yue 張說 coutnered that it was not possible to change a non-printed (i.e. ancient) text like the Liji, and instead advocated to make use of the precedent cases on ceremonies formulated during the Zhenguan 貞觀 and Xianqing 顯慶 reigns XXX. Emperor XXX thereupon ordered XXX右散騎常侍 Xu Jian 徐堅 and 左拾遺 Li Rui 李銳, as well as 太常博士 Shi Jingben 施敬本 to draft such a code. It was finished within a year's span. Xiao Song, freshly-made academician (xueshi 學士) reported to the throne that XXX 起居舍人 Wang Zhongqiu 王仲邱 was about to revise and finish a set of rules of the "five types of rituals" (wuli 五禮) of the Tang dynasty. The result was the 150 juan "scrolls" long Kaiyuanli. It is headed by a 3 juan long introduction into the topic, and then treats all five types of rituals, namely festivity rites (jili 吉禮), guest rituals (binli 賓禮), military ceremonies (junli 軍禮), congratulational rituals (jiali 嘉禮), and funeral rites (xiongli 凶禮). The repositioning of the funeral rites from the second to the last place follos the sequence in the rituals from the Zhenguan reign. During the Zhenyuan reign 貞元 XXX emperor XXX decided to include the canon among the textbooks for students aspiring to pass the state examinations. Officials of the XXX 太常 were used as instructors. The Kaiyuanli rites were used for the compilation of the Jiutangshu and Xintangshu as a source on Tang period state rituals, yet unfortunately only thirty to fourty per cent of the original have survived. Du You's Tongdian also lists a book kalled Kaiyuan lizuanlei 開元禮纂類, with a length of 35 juan, which seems to be very different text than the official Kaiyuanli with another concept of arrangement.


Source: Siku quanshu zongmu 四庫全書總目 (Taibei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 1963), juan 82, fol. 2a-3b (pp. 1651-1652).

January 23, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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