Jiwen 祭文, also called zhùwen 祝文 or zhǔwen 囑文, are sacrificial texts, prayers or incantations recited at the tomb or altar of a deceased person. Sacrificial texts belong to the genre of laments and sacrifices (ai ji 哀祭), which also includes dirges (lei 誄), laments (ai 哀), commemorations (diao 吊), and sacrificial texts (ji 祭). They were part of the state rituals performed at the altars dedicated to Heaven and Earth (see suburban sacrifices) and various natural spirits.
A commentary on the anthology Wenxuan 文選 says that sacrificial texts also included apotropaic prayers against evil spirits and incantations to invoke rain and fortune. In the private sphere, jiwen texts were used to praise the virtue of the late person and to lament his or her passing away.
They can be written in prose style or in lyrics with rhymes, or in mixed style, with verses of various length. Most famous is Tao Qian's 陶潛 (Tao Yuanming 陶淵明, c. 365-427) Ji Chengshi mei wen 祭程氏妹文, written in rhymes, or Han Yu's 韓愈 (768-824) Ji shi'er lang wen 祭十二郎文 and Ji eyu wen 祭鱷魚文 and Yuan Mei's 袁枚 (1716-1797) Ji mei wen 祭妹文 written in prose. Other famous sacrificial texts are Cao Cao's 曹操 (155-220) Ji Qiao Xuan wen 祭橋玄文 (Si gu taiwei Qiao Xuan wen 祀故太尉橋玄文), Liu Lingxian's 劉令嫻 (fl. 525) Ji fu Xu Jingye wen 祭夫徐敬業文, Bai Juyi's 白居易 (772-846) Ji long wen 祭龍文, Ouyang Xiu's 歐陽修 (1007-1072) Ji Shi Manqing wen 祭石曼卿文 and Ji Yin Shilu wen 祭尹師魯文, Wang Anshi's 王安石 (1021-1086) Ji Ouyang Wenzhong wen 祭歐陽文忠文, Sun Yatsen's (Sun Zhongshan 孫中山, 1866-1925) Ji Huanghuagang qishi'er lieshi wen 祭黃花岡七十二烈士文, Huang Xing's 黃興 (1874-1916) Ji Song Jiaoren wen 祭宋教仁文 or Guo Moruo's 郭沫若 (1892-1978) Jiashen sanbai nian ji 甲申三百年祭. It can be seen that sacrificial texts were used until modern times.
The use of sacrificial texts was very similar to that of commemorative texts (diaowen 吊文), with the difference that commemorative texts were dedicated to persons living long ago, while sacrificial texts were (in practice) written for contemporary persons and were presented in front of a tomb. However, this temporal distinction is not always made, because the sacrificial texts included in the Wenxuan were written at the occasion of delivering sacrifices to ancient persons, like Yan Yannian's 顏延年 (384-456) Ji Qu Yuan wen 祭屈原文 which was written when the author delivered offerings to the poet Qu Yuan 屈原 (d. 278 BCE) who had died long ago.