The Liji 禮記 "Book of rites" is a collection of descriptions of ritual matters written during the late Warring States 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE) and Former Han 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) periods. It is one of the Five Confucian Classics (wujing 五經) and one of the three ritual classics (sanli 三禮). During the Former Han period books on ritual matters with a length of 131 chapters were brought together, one by the Confucian scholar Dai De 戴德 (Dai Senior 大戴) who compiled a collection of 85 chapters (called Da Dai Liji 大戴禮記 "Ritual book by Dai Senior"), and one by his nephew Dai Sheng 戴聖, with a length of 49 chapters, which was accordingly called the Xiao Dai Liji 小戴禮記 "Ritual book by Dai Junior". At the end of the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) the book of Dai De ceased to be taught at the National University (taixue 太學) and was overshadowed by the compilation of Dai Sheng which then became the orthodox classic on rituals, together with the Yili 儀禮 and the Zhouli 周禮. Its status as a classic was enhanced by the fact that the Confucian scholar Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 wrote a commentary to Dai Sheng's Liji. Some of the chapters are similar in content to the Yili, like the capping or marriage ceremonies, but others are not contained in the Yili classic, like mourning clothes (sangfu 喪服) and the ritual game of pitch-pot (touhu 投壺). The Liji also contains some general chapters on Confucian ritual thinking, like the conveyance or rituals (Liyun 禮運), ritual music (Yueji 樂記), or studies (Xueji 學記). The chapter Yueling 月令 is not directly "Confucian" but describes the proceedings of the government in the different months from the viewpoint of early Chinese cosmological thinking. The traditional shape of Chinese government is described in the chapter Wangzhi 王制. The chapter Yueji has been interpreted by some scholars as the often-mentioned but actually never identified sixth Confucian classic (of the Six Classics Liuyi 六藝), namely that on ritual music. Two chapters have been extracted during the Song period 宋 (960-1279): the Zhongyong 中庸 "Doctrine of the Mean" and the Daxue 大學 "Great Learning". These two book became part of the so-called "Four Books" (sishu 四書).|
The famous Tang period 唐 (618-907) scholar Kong Yingda 孔穎達 has written an 80 juan "scrolls" long commentary, the Liji zhengyi 禮記正義. During the Song period it was merged with Zheng Xuan's commentary to the Liji zhushu 禮記注疏， in 63 juan. At the same time Wei Shi 衛湜 wrote the a collection of commentaries, the Liji jishuo 禮記集說, in 150 juan. A book with the same title was compiled with by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) scholar Chen Gao 陳澔, but only 10 juan long, which was again extended by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Hu Guang 胡廣 to the book Liji daquan 禮記大全. The most important Qing period 清 (1644-1911) commentary is Hang Shijun's 杭世駿 Xu Weishi Liji jishuo 續衛氏禮記集說, in 100 juan. A lot of commentators dealt with particular chapters of the Liji, like the Ming period commentator Huang Daozhou 黃道周 (Yueling mingyi 月令明義, Ziji jizhuan 緇衣集傳) or the Qing period scholar Shao Taiqu 邵泰衢 (Tangong yiwen 檀弓疑問).
Source: Liu Qiyu 劉起釪 (1992). "Liji 禮記", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 2, p. 547. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
1.(1.-2.) 曲禮上下 Quli A+B Summary of the Rules of Property
2.(3.-4.) 檀弓上下 Tan Gong A+B
3.(5.) 王制 Wangzhi Royal Regulations
4.(6.) 月令 Yueling Proceedings of Government in the different Months
5.(7.) 曾子問 Zengzi Wen The Questions of Zengzi
6.(8.) 文王世子 Wenwang Shizi King Wen, the Heir
7.(9.) 禮運 Liyun The Conveyance of Rites
8.(10.) 禮器 Liqi Utensils of Rites
9.(11.) 郊特牲 Jiaotesheng The Great Border Sacrifice
10.(12.) 內則 Neize The Pattern of the Family
11.(13.) 玉藻 Yuzao Dresses and Caps worn by rulers
12.(14.) 明堂位 Mingtang Wei The Hall of Distinction
13.(15.) 喪服小記Sangfu Xiaoji Smaller Records of Mourning Dress
14.(16.) 大傳 Dazhuan The Great Treatise
15.(17.) 少儀 Shaoyi Smaller Rules of Conduct
16.(18.) 學記 Xueji Record of Studies
17.(19.) 樂記Yueji Record of Music
18.(20.-21.) 雜記上下 Zaji A+B Miscellaneous Records
19.(22.) 喪大記Sangdaji Greater Record of Mourning Rites, incl. 喪服大記 Sangfu Daji Greater Records of Mourning Dress
20.(23.) 祭法 Jifa Laws of Sacrifices
21.(24.) 祭義 Jiyi The Meaning of Sacrifices
22.(25.) 祭統 Jitong Summary Account of Sacrifices
23.(26.) 經解 Jingjie Explanations of the Classics
24.(27.) 哀公問 Aigong Wen The Questions of Duke Ai
25.(28.) 仲尼燕居 Zhongni Yanju Zhongni (Confucius) at Home at Ease
26.(29.) 孔子閒居 Kongzi Xianju Confucius at Home at Leisure
27.(30.) 坊記 Fangji Record of Dykes
28.(31) 中庸 Zhongyong The Doctrine of the Mean
29.(32.) 表記 Biaoji The Record on Example
30.(33.) 緇衣 Ziyi The Black Robes
31.(34.) 奔喪 Bensang Hurrying to Mourning Rites
32.(35.) 問喪 Wensang Questions about Mourning Rites
33.(36.) 服問 Fuwen Subjects for Questioning about the Mourning Dress
34.(37.) 間傳 Jianzhuan Treatise on Subsidiary Points in Mourning Usages
35.(38.) 三年問 Sannianwen Questions about the Mourning for Three Years
36.(39.) 深衣 Shenyi The Long Dress in One Piece
37.(40.) 投壺 Touhu The Game of Pitch-Pot
38.(41.) 儒行 Ruxing The Conduct of the Scholar
39.(42) 大學 Daxue The Great Learning
40.(43.) 冠義 Guanyi The Meaning of the Ceremony of Capping
41.(44.) 昏（＝婚）義 Hunyi The Meaning of the Marriage Ceremony
42.(45.) 鄉飲酒義 Xiang Yinjiu Yi The Meaning of the Drinking Festivity in the Districts
43.(46.) 射義 Sheyi The Meaning of the Ceremony of Archery
44.(47.) 燕義 Yanyi The Meaning of the Banquet
45.(48.) 聘義 Pingyi The Meaning of the Interchange of Missions Between Different Courts
46.(49.) 喪服四制 Sangfu Sizhi The Four Principles Underlying the Dress of Mourning
3. (5.) 王制 Royal Regulations
According to the regulations of emolument and rank framed by the kings, there were the duke; the marquis; the earl; the count; and the baron - in all, five gradations (of rank). There were (also), in the feudal states, Great officers of the highest grade - the ministers; and Great officers of the lowest grade; officers of the highest, the middle, and the lowest grades - in all, five gradations (of office).
The territory of the son of Heaven amounted to 1000 li square; that of a duke or marquis to 500 li square; that of an earl to 79 li square; and that of a count or baron to 50 li square. (Lords) who could not number 50 li square, were not admitted directly to (the audiences of) the son of Heaven. Their territories were called 'attached,' being joined to those of one of the other princes. The territory assigned to each of the ducal ministers of the son of Heaven was equal to that of a duke or marquis; that of each of his high ministers was equal to that of an earl; that of his Great officers to the territory of a count or baron; and that of his officers of the chief grade to an attached territory.
According to the regulations, the fields of the husbandmen were in portions of a hundred acres. According to the different qualities of those acres, when they were of the highest quality, a farmer supported nine individuals; where they were of the next, eight; and so on, seven, six, and five. The pay of the common people, who were employed in government offices, was regulated in harmony with these distinctions among the husbandmen.
13. (15.) 喪服小記 Smaller Records of Mourning Dress
When wearing the unhemmed sackcloth (for a father), (the son) tied up his hair with a hempen (band), and also when wearing it for a mother. When he exchanged this band for the cincture (in the case of mourning for his mother), this was made of linen cloth. (A wife), when wearing the (one year's mourning) of sackcloth with the edges even, had the girdle (of the same), and the inferior hair-pin (of hazel-wood), and wore these to the end of the mourning.
(Ordinarily) men wore the cap, and women the hair-pin; (in mourning) men wore the cincture, and women the same after the female fashion. The idea was (simply) to maintain in this way a distinction between them.
The dark-coloured staff was of bamboo; that paired and fashioned (at the end) was of eleococca wood.
17. (19.) 樂記 Record of Music
All the modulations of the voice arise from the mind, and the various affections of the mind are produced by things (external to it). The affections thus produced are manifested in the sounds that are uttered. Changes are produced by the way in which those sounds respond to one another; and those changes constitute what we call the modulations of the voice. The combination' of those modulated sounds, so as to give pleasure, and the (direction in harmony with them of the) shields and axes, and of the plumes and ox-tails, constitutes what we call music.
Music is (thus) the production of the modulations of the voice, and its source is in the affections of the mind as it is influenced by (external) things. When the mind is moved to sorrow, the sound is sharp and fading away; when it is moved to pleasure, the sound is slow and gentle; when it is moved to joy, the sound is exclamatory and soon disappears; when it is moved to anger, the sound is coarse and fierce; when it is moved to reverence, the sound is straightforward, with an indication of humility; when it is moved to love, the sound is harmonious and soft. These six peculiarities of sound are not natural'; they indicate the impressions produced by (external) things. On this account the ancient kings were watchful in regard to the things by which the mind was affected. And so (they instituted) ceremonies to direct men's aims aright; music to give harmony to their voices; laws to unify their conduct; and punishments to guard against their tendencies to evil. The end to which ceremonies, music, punishments, and laws conduct is one; they are the instruments by which the minds of the people are assimilated, and good order in government is made to appear.
41. (44.) 昏義 The Meaning of the Marriage Ceremony
The ceremony of marriage was intended to be a bond of love between two (families of different) surnames, with a view, in its retrospective character, to secure the services in the ancestral temple, and in its prospective character, to secure the continuance of the family line. Therefore the superior men, (the ancient rulers), set a great value upon it. Hence, in regard to the various (introductory) ceremonies,--the proposal with its accompanying gift; the inquiries about the (lady's) name; the intimation of the approving divination; the receiving the special offerings; and the request to fix the day - these all were received by the principal party (on the lady's side), as he rested on his mat or leaning-stool in the ancestral temple, (When they arrived), he met the messenger, and greeted him outside the gate, giving place to him as he entered, after which they ascended to the hall. Thus were the instructions received in the ancestral temple, and in this way was the ceremony respected, and watched over, while its importance was exhibited and care taken that all its details should be correct.
Translated by James Legge (1967). Li Chi: The Book of Rites, an Encyclopedia of Ancient Ceremonial Usages, Religious Creeds, and Social Institutions. New York: University Books.