The Book of Rites
The Book of Rites is the anthology of articles written by Confucian scholars from the Warring States Period to the Qin and Han Dynasties about their interpretation of the scripts Etiquette and Ceremonials. As an important material collection for the Confucian thoughts, it is one of "the five classics of Confucianism", the other four being the Book of Songs, the Book of History, the Book of Changes, and the Spring and Autumn Annals.
It is said that the Book of Rites was compiled by the etiquettes scholars Dai De and his nephew Dai Sheng in the West Han Dynasty. The version of 85 articles selected and complied by Dai De is known as the Senior Dai"s Book of Rites, which was unfortunately lost in the later generations. The version of 49 articles selected and complied by Dai Sheng is called Junior Dai"s Book of Rites, which is the origin of the current Book of Rites.
The Book of Rites mainly records and explains the etiquette code of Pre-Qin period .It takes the etiquette and music as the core, involving many aspects, such as politics, laws, morality, philosophy, history, sacrifice, art, daily life, calendars, and geography and so on. Therefore, it is the concentrated display of the politics, philosophies and ethic ideas of the Confucian in Pre-Qin time. The Book of Rites elaborates many profound ideas on study, education, life, metal and physical cultivation which are still inspiring and thought-provoking to the modern people.
Written in prose with concise but vivid language, some articles of The Book of Rites are of high literature value. Some essays adopt short but vivid stories to illustrate truths, some are well-structured; some inscribe profound thoughts into simple narration; some is good at psychological depiction. In addition, the book also collects a great number of incisive and profound philosophic proverbs and apothegms.
The Book of Rites along with the Rites of Zhou and Etiquette and Ceremonial is generally called "Three Rites" and has profound influence on the Chinese culture. Many scholars in various periods and dynasties made annotations to these books of rites. The annotation for Daidai Book of Rites made by Zheng Xuan, the famous scholar in the end of Eastern Han Dynasty is regarded as the classic one and the must-read book for the traditional Chinese gentlemen.