The Grown-up Ceremonies, Guan and Ji

The ceremonies of Guan (冠) and Ji (笄) were the grown-up ceremonies of young men and women in ancient times. Guan was a kind of ancient Chinese cap for a man. Ji was a hairpin for fastening the hair for a woman.

The chapter "Meaning of Guan" (冠义) in the book "Records of Proprieties" (礼记) said, “A person can be called a person because of the proprieties and principle of this person. A person follows proprieties and principle with proper behaviors, dignified expression and courteous words. Proprieties and principle can make a monarch and his ministers proper, a father and his son intimate, seniors and juniors harmonious. If a man experiences a Guan Ceremony, he will have complete garments. Complete garments can make a man have proper behaviors, dignified expression and courteous words. So we can say, ‘Guan is the beginning of proprieties.’”

There was a Guan Ceremony when a man was 20 years old. The chapter "Qu Proprieties" (曲礼) of the book "Records of Proprieties" said, “Being 20 years old is called youth, and there is a Guan Ceremony.” In order to hold a Guan Ceremony, the family of the man must choose an auspicious day and an important guest who will bestow a Guan upon the grown-up man. This showed they respected the Guan Ceremony. Respecting the Guan Ceremony was respecting proprieties. Respecting proprieties was the foundation of a country.

The Guan Ceremony was held in the ancestral temple of his family, in order to respect ancestors and let the young man know he must be a respectful descendant. A venerable senior of the clan, which this family belonged to, bestowed a Guan upon the grown-up man, and bestowed a Zi (字, another name which showed a special meaning) on the man.

A woman was grown-up at the age of 15. The chapter "Nei Principles" (内則) of the book "Records of Proprieties" said, “There is a Ji Ceremony at the age of 15, and the woman can get married at the age of 20.” The chapter "Shi’s Matrimonial Rituals" (士昏礼) of the book "Rites and Proprieties" (仪礼) said, “When a woman is at marriage age, a Ji will be bestowed upon the woman, and she will drink sweet wine and be given a Zi.” The chapter "Qu Proprieties" of the book "Records of Proprieties" also said, “When a woman is at marriage age, a Ji and a Zi will be bestowed on the woman.” And it said, “The grown-up ages of a man and a woman are different.” Accordingly, if a woman was 15 years old, she was at grown-up age and could get married, and no matter she wasn’t 20 years old.

When a woman was grown-up, she would be a virtuous and intelligent wife. But when a man was grown-up, he would shoulder the heavy responsibilities of his family, his clan and even his country.

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