Three Works about Proprieties

Ancient Chinese people respected proprieties very much. So the Central Nation was called “The Nation of Proprieties and Righteousness” (礼义之邦) in ancient times. There are three important works about Chinese proprieties: Zhou's Systems (周礼), Rites and Proprieties (仪礼), and Records of Proprieties (礼记).

"Zhou's Systems" is also called "Zhou's Officials" (周官) or "the Classic of Zhou's Officials" (周官经). This book is about the systems of the Zhou Dynasty. It was written in the Pre-Qin Era. In the Han Dynasty, the scholars who specialized in Confucian classics which were recorded in the ancient calligraphy of the Pre-Qin Period, thought that Zhou Systems was written by Zhou-gong (周公) who was a great statesman in the early days of the Western Zhou Dynasty. Other scholars who specialized in Confucian classics which were recorded in the then calligraphy of the Han Dynasty, thought that Zhou Systems was written in the Warring-States Period.

"Rites and Proprieties" is briefly called "Proprieties" (礼), and this book is also called the Classic of Proprieties (礼经) or the Proprieties of Shi (士礼). It is a collection of many proprieties of the Spring-Autumn and Warring-States Times. This book was considered to be written by Zhou-gong or to be compiled by Confucius. But some scholars thought this book was written in the early days of the Warring-State Period according to some systems of this book and some cultural relics.

"Records of Proprieties" is a selection from many works about proprieties of the Pre-Qin Period. Traditionally it was compiled by Dai Sheng (戴圣) in the Western Han Dynasty. The present version is the edition of explanation of Zheng Xuan (郑玄) who was a famous scholar of Confucian classics in the Eastern Han Dynasty. Those works which were selected to this book were probably recorded by the students of Confucius and their students. Records of Proprieties is an important works about social conditions, regulations and systems, proprieties, and Confucian thoughts of ancient China.


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