An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Ming jili 明集禮

Jan 23, 2014 © Ulrich Theobald

Ming jili 明集禮, original title Da-Ming jili 大明集禮, is a collection of court rituals of the Ming dynasty 明 (1368-1644) compiled under the supervision of Xu Yikui 徐一夔 (1315-1400) and with a staff that included eminent Confucian experts like Liang Yin 梁寅 (1309-1390), Liu Yu 劉于, Zhou Yuliang 周於諒, Hu Xingjian 胡行簡, Liu Zongbi 劉宗弼, Dong Yi 董彝 (d. 1429?), Cai Chen 蔡琛, Teng Gongying 滕公瑛 and Zeng Hu 曾魯 (1319-1372).

The compilation project lasted from 1369 to the end of the following year. The bibliographical chapter Yiwen zhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Mingshi 明史 and the book Zhaodai dianze 昭代典則 say it was 50-juan long, but the transmitted version has a length of 53 juan.

The ritual collection Ming dianhui 明典彙 explains that in 1529, Minister of Rites (libu shangshu 禮部尚書) Li Shi 李時 (1471-1538) suggested printing of the Da-Ming jili in a revised version, in order to amend the many errors in the original text. This was in fact done a year later. From this statement it can be seen that the 50-juan version was the original, while the transmitted one is the revised version from the Jiajing reign-period 嘉靖 (1522-1566) that includes corrections and also some comments. The latter version also includes some information on state rituals that are not to be found in the first version that was written in the beginning of the Ming period, while ritual customs between the Hongwu 洪武 (1368-1398) and the Jiajing reign-periods had changed and rules were more detailed.

The text is divided into eleven parts or "guidelines" (gang 綱) with many sub-chapters. The great chapters are festivity rituals (Jili 吉禮), funeral rites (Xiongli 凶禮), military ceremonies (Junli 軍禮), hosting ceremonies (Binli 賓禮), congratulation rites (Jiali 嘉禮), capping and clothing rites (Guanfu 冠服), chariots (Cheluo 車輅), parades (yizhang 儀仗), insignia (Lubu 鹵簿), writing (Zixue 字學), and music (Yue 樂). Many statements can be compared with the chapter on rituals Lizhi 禮志 in the history Mingshi.

The Ming jili is included in the imperial series Siku daquan 四庫全書.

Siku quanshu zongmu 四庫全書總目 (Taibei: Yiwen yinshuguan, 1963), juan 82, fol. 11b-13b (pp. 1656-1657).