The Book of Rites
The Book of Rites records the rules of rites before the Qin Dynasty and changes after that. It was finished in the Han Dynasty by a scholar called Daisheng. It includes the changes of the social system, the etiquette system and people's thoughts. It is a book that mainly reflects the thoughts of the Confucian school.
The Book of Rites is a great work to research the states of ancient China society, the social system and rules and the thoughts of the Confucian School. It covers various areas such as society, politics, ethics, philosophy and religion. The book was written by several figures and also contains some conversations between Confucius and his students.
The genres of the articles in this book are mainly narration with some articles having a reasonably high literary value. Some stories are very short but this does not mean they lack meaning. Some have a strict structure, some are concise and comprehensive and there are also some short sayings littered within which are very penetrating and acute.
There is a substantial amount of content in this book. Some of the articles are about cultivating one's character; some of them record the rules and etiquette between family members and other people. These articles help explain why China is called "the land of ceremony." There are many essays about the rules and etiquette of a funeral. This part can be difficult to comprehend due to the difference in culture between when the book was written and now. There are also many articles discussing the meaning and reason of all the rules and etiquettes included in the book. This part is important when doing research on the Confucian School.
Li is the core of the thought processes of the Confucian School. Confucius described Li as all traditional forms that provided a standard of conduct. Literally it means "rites" but can also refer to the rules of conduct. It can also be used to refer to "ceremonial" or "rules of conduct". It is believed that Li has become closely associated with human nature, ethics and social order. Li was beneficial to society because it made people to realise and fulfill their responsibilities.