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Shuyi 書儀

Jan 8, 2020 © Ulrich Theobald

Shuyi 書儀, also called Simashi shuyi 司馬氏書儀, is a book on private family rituals compiled during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) by Sima Guang 司馬光 (1019-1086), who is better known as a historian and conservative politician.

Texts of private family rituals (shuyi 書儀) were already known during the Jin period 晉 (265-420), and some books are recorded in the bibliography Jingji zhi 經籍志 of the official dynastic history Suishu 隋書, for instance, the Shuyi books by Cai Chao 蔡超, Wang Hong 王弘 or Tang Jin 唐瑾, auspicious ceremonies (Ji shuyi 吉書儀) by Wang Jian 王儉, commentaries (Shuyi shu 書儀疏) by Wang She 周捨, or an anonymous book on female matters, Furen shuyi 婦人書儀.

The oldest surviving text is Suo Jing's 索靖 Yueyitie 月儀帖 from the Western Jin period 西晉 (265-316). From the Tang period 唐 (618-907), manuscript fragments are preserved, particularly some finds from Dunhuang 敦煌.

Scholars divide these texts into three categories, namely "friendship rituals" (pengyou shuyi 朋友書儀) explaining how to use proper words, and which ceremonies to carry out throughout the months. The second type are general rituals (zonghelei shuyi 綜合類書儀) encompassing all various types of social encounters and activities, the five types of rituals (wuli 五禮), but also explain how to write letters or other documents. The third type mainly deals with the proper arrangement of wording in official documents. The word shuyi therefore also designates a handbook for the compilation of official document".

The Shuyi, with a length of 10 juan, belongs to Sima's writings opposing the reformist policy of Wang Anshi 王安石 (1021-1086) which was also reflected in different interpretations of Confucian philosophy. Sima Guang, as the founder of the Su River School (Sushui xuepai 涑水學派) of Neo-Confucianism supported the traditional interpretation of the late Han-period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE) scholar Zheng Xuan 鄭玄 (127-200), and tried to modernize interpretations of Zheng that seemed wrong or outdated nearly a thousand years later.

In order to rectify Zheng's teachings, Sima Guang investigated Confucian rituals in detail, much more than the great Neo-Confucian teacher Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200) would eventually do half a century later with his much more famous family rituals Jiali (Zhuzi jiali 家禮) and his commentary Yili jingzhuan tongjie 儀禮經傳通解. Zhu Xi praised Sima Guang for his reliance on the ancient ritual Classic Yili 儀禮 in contrast to early Song-period Confucians like Zhang Zai 張載 (1020-1077) or the brothers Cheng Hao 程顥 (1032–1085) and Cheng Yi 程頤 (1033–1107) who had simply followed traditional – i. e. younger – rites. The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 commented on the Shuyi that they were a paradigm of family rituals (li jia zhi dianxing 禮家之典型).

A third important Song-period book of family rituals is Chen Xiangdao's 陳詳道 (1053-1093) Lishu 禮書.

The Shuyi was first printed in 1192. There exists a Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) print, and several from the Qing period 清 (1644-1911), namely Wang Liangcai's 汪亮采 fascimile of a Song-period print (1723), and the 1868 print of the Jiangsu Press 江蘇局. It is included in the series Xuejin taoyuan 學津討源.

Table 1. Contents of the Shuyi 書儀
1 表奏 Zoubiao Documents sent to superiors
公文 Gongwen Official communication
私書 Sishu Private letters
家書 Jiashu Letters from family to family
2 冠儀 Guanyi Capping rites
3-4 㛰儀 Hunyi Nuptial rites
5-10 喪儀 Sangyi Funeral and mourning rites
Sources:
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Gong Yunwei 宮雲維 (2002). "Sima Guang Shuyi banben kaolüe 司馬光《書儀》版本考略", Zhejiang Gongye Daxue xuebao 浙江工業大學學報, 2002 (12).
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, ed. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 1, 232.
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Yao Yonghui 姚永輝 (2014). "Cong pian xiang jing zhu dao shi yong yizhu: Simashi shuyi yu Jiali zhi bijiao: Jian lun liang-Song sixiu shishu yidian de yanbian 從“偏向經注”到“實用儀注”:《司馬氏書儀》與《家禮》之比較——兼論兩宋私修士庶儀典的演變", Kongzi yanjiu 孔子研究, 2014 (3).
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