Da Dai Liji 大戴禮記 "Records of ritual matters by Dai the Elder" is a collection of ritual observations written during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE). It was compiled at the same time when the book Liji 禮記 "Records of rites" took shape that later became one of the Five Confucian Classics (wujing 五經).
Although the title of the Da Dai Liji only speaks of ritual matters it also contains records of royal genealogical trees and astronomical issues. Dai De 戴德, the compiler, selected 85 out of 131 chapters of ancient texts on ritual matters and assembled them to a book he called Liji. Because his nephew Dai Sheng 戴聖 also compiled a book on rituals with the same title the names of the two authors were added, in order to discern the two texts: "Dai the Elder" (Da Dai 大戴) and "Dai the Younger" (Xiao Dai 小戴). At the end of the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 (127 – 200) wrote a commentary on the Xiao Dai Liji 小戴禮記 and made it one of the Five Classics. The book of his uncle, Da Dai Liji, therefore was overshadowed and has only rarely received the attention of scholars since.
The first scholar writing a commentary on the Da Da Liji was Lu Bian 盧辯, who lived during the Northern Zhou period 北周 (557-581). During the Tang period 唐 (618-907) already 46 chapters of the book were lost. The calendrical treatise Xia xiaozheng 夏小正 was transmitted separately, so that the received Da Dai Liji only consists of 18 chapters. During the Song period 宋 (960-1279), when the first printed edition of the Da Dai Liji was published, the Xia xiaozheng was re-incorporated, as well as the chapter Mingtang 明堂 "The Bright Hall" that was extracted from the chapter Shengde 盛德. This print included 40 chapters, arranged in 13 juan. Of Lu Bian’s commentary only 8 juan survived.
The Da Dai Liji chapters Aigong wen 哀公問 and Touhu 投壺 are identical to those in the (Xiao Dai) Liji. The chapters Licha 禮察, Zengzi daxiao 曾子大孝 and Benming 本命 are dispersed in the Liji chapters Jingjie 經解, Jiyi 祭義 and Sangfu sizhi 喪服四制. The Da Dai Liji includes five chapters actually belonging to the field of ritual matters as found in the Classic Yili 儀禮, namely Zhuhou qianmiao 諸侯遷廟, Zhuhou xinmiao 諸侯釁廟, Chaoshi 朝事, Touhu and Gongfu 公符. It includes three and a half chapters from the Confucian master Xunzi 荀子, namely Aigong wen, Quanxue 勸學, Li sanben 禮三本, and a part of the chapter Youzuo 宥坐 that is to be found at the end of the chapter Quanxue in the Da Dai Liji.
The chapters Qiancheng 千乘, Sidai 四代, Yu Dai de 虞戴德, Gao zhi 誥志, Xiaobian 小辨, Yongbing 用兵 and Shaoxian 少閒 are believed to be the seven chapters of the ancient book Kongzi sanchao ji 孔子三朝記. This assumption was formulated by Wang Yinglin 王應麟 (Song) and supported by Wang Pinzhen 王聘珍 and Kong Guangsen 孔廣森 (both Qing), while Wang Chang 王昶 (Qing) was of the opinion that it corresponded to the chapters Aigong wen wu yi 哀公問五義, Aigong wen yu Kongzi 哀公問於孔子, Xiaobian, Yongbing and Shaoxian. Ten paragraphs are identical to some in the book Zengzi 曾子.
The chapter Baofu 保傅 is a combination of four chapters in Jia Yi's 賈誼 Xinshu 新書. The chapter Gongfu included a proclamation text for the capping of Emperor Zhao 漢昭帝 (r. 87-74 BCE) of the Han dynasty called Han Xiao Zhaodi guan ci 漢孝昭帝冠辭.
These critical comparisons permit us to know that the Da Dai Liji included texts dating from the Warring States 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE) as well as from the Former Han period.
The negligence the Da Dai Liji suffered through the ages caused many errors in the transmission so that during the Qing period Confucian scholars like Dai Zhen 戴震, Lu Wenchao 盧文弨 or Wang Zhong 汪中 invested a lot of research in order to rectify the text. The most important commentary from this period is Wang Pinzhen's Da Dai Liji jiegu 大戴禮記解詁.
|Translations according to Grynpas (1967).|
|40.||哀公問五義||Aigong wen wuyi||Duke Ai asked about the five classes of humans|
|41.||哀公問於孔子||Aigong wen yu Kongzi||Duke Ai asked Confucius|
|42.||禮三本||Lisanben||The three roots of the Rituals|
|46.||禮察||Licha||Examination of the rituals|
|47.||夏小正||Xia xiaozheng||The small calendar of the Xia|
|48.||保傅||Baofu||Preceptors and Masters|
|49.||曾子立事||Zengzi lishi||Zengzi about the correct serving [one's superiors]|
|50.||曾子本孝||Zengzi benxiao||Zengzi on the origin of filial piety|
|51.||曾子立孝||Zengzi lixiao||Zengzi on founding the filial piety|
|52.||曾子大孝||Zengzi daxiao||Zengzi on the great filial piety|
|53.||曾子事父母||Zengzi shi fumu||Zengzi on serving one's parents|
|54.-56.||曾子制言||Zengzhi zhiyan||Zengzi about behaviour I-III|
|57.||曾子疾病||Zengzi jibing||Zengzi was sick|
|58.||曾子天圓||Zengzi tianyuan||Zengzi about the roundness of Heaven|
|59.||武王踐阼||Wuwang jianzuo||The throne accession of King Wu|
|60.||衛將軍文子||Wei jiangjun Wenzi||Wenzi, general-chief of Wei|
|62.||五帝德||Wudi de||The virtue of the Five Emperors|
|63.||禘繋||Dixi||The genealogy of the emperors|
|64.||勸學||Quanxue||Exhortation to study|
|65.||子張問入官||Zizhang wen ru gong||Zizhang asked [Confucius] about being charged with an office|
|67.||明堂||Mingtang||The Bright Hall|
|68.||千乘||Qiancheng||[A kingdom of] a thousand chariots|
|69.||四代||Sidai||The four dynasties|
|70.||虞戴德||Yu dai de||The glory of the power of Yu (Emperor Shun 舜)|
|71.||誥志||Gaozhi||Decrees and annals|
|72.||文王官人||Wenwang guanren||The officials of King Wen|
|73.||諸侯遷廟||Zhuhou qianmiao||Dedication to the ancestral temple of the regional rulers|
|成廟衅之以羊 (諸侯釁廟)||Chengmiaoxin zhi yi yang (Zhuhou xinmiao)||Dedication to the ancestral temple by offering a goat|
|74.||小辨||Xiaoban||A small discourse|
|75.||用兵||Yongbing||The use of military|
|76.||少閒||Shaoxian||A bit of leisure|
|78.||投壺||Touhu||The pitch-pot game|
|79.||公符||Gongfu||Ducal emblems of investiture|
|80.||本命||Benming||Life or destiny|
|81.||易本命||Yi benming||The change is at the origin of life|
The Da Dai Liji can be found in the reprint series Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編, Han-Wei congshu 漢魏叢書, Sibu congkan 四部叢刊, Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Wuyingdian juzhenban shu 武英殿聚珍版書 and Yayutang cangshu 雅雨堂藏書.