Sacred Texts  Confucianism  Index  Previous  Next 



See the remarks on the Services of the Ancestral Temple, pp. 300, 301.

Thick grew the tribulus (on the ground), But they cleared away its thorny bushes. Why did they this of old? That we might plant our millet and sacrificial millet; That our millet might be abundant, And our sacrificial millet luxuriant. When our barns are full, And our stacks can be counted by tens of myriads, We proceed to make spirits and prepared grain, For offerings and sacrifice. We seat the representatives of the dead, and urge them to eat 1:--Thus seeking to increase our bright happiness.

p. 366

With correct and reverent deportment, The bulls and rams all pure, We proceed to the winter and autumnal sacrifices. Some flay (the victims); some cook (their flesh); Some arrange (the meat); some adjust (the pieces of it). The officer of prayer sacrifices inside the temple gate 1, And all the sacrificial service is complete and brilliant. Grandly come our progenitors; Their spirits happily enjoy the offerings; Their filial descendant receives blessing:--They will reward him with great happiness, With myriads of years, life without end.

They attend to the furnaces with reverence; They prepare the trays, which are very large; Some for the roast meat, some for the broiled. Wives presiding are still and reverent 2, Preparing the numerous (smaller) dishes. The guests and visitors 3 Present the cup all round 4. Every form is according to rule; Every smile and word are as they should be. The spirits quietly come, And respond

p. 367

with great blessings,--Myriads of years as the (fitting) reward.

We are very much exhausted, And have performed every ceremony without error. The able officer of prayer announces (the will of the spirits) 1. And goes to the filial descendant to convey it 1:--Fragrant has been your filial sacrifice, And the spirits have enjoyed your spirits and viands. They confer on you a hundred blessings; Each as it is desired, Each as sure as law. You have been exact and expeditious; You have been correct and careful; They will ever confer on you the choicest favours, In myriads and tens of myriads.'

The ceremonies having thus been completed, And the bells and drums having given their warning 2, The filial descendant goes to his place 3, And the able officer of prayer makes his announcement, 'The spirits have drunk to the full.' The great representatives of the dead then rise, And the bells and drums escort their withdrawal, (On which) the spirits tranquilly return (to whence they came) 4. All the servants, and the presiding wives, Remove (the trays and dishes) without delay. The

p. 368

[paragraph continues] (sacrificer's) uncles and cousins All repair to the private feast 1.

The musicians all go in to perform, And give their soothing aid at the second blessing 2. Your 3 viands are set forth; There is no dissatisfaction, but all feel happy. They drink to the full, and eat to the full; Great and small, they bow their heads., (saying), 'The spirits enjoyed your spirits and viands, And will cause you to live long. Your sacrifices, all in their seasons, Are completely discharged by you. May your sons and your grandsons Never fail to perpetuate these services!'


365:1 The poet hurries on to describe the sacrifices in progress. The persons selected to personate the departed were necessarily inferior in rank to the principal sacrificer, yet for the time they were superior to him. This circumstance, it was supposed, would make them feel uncomfortable; and therefore, as soon as they appeared in the temple, the director of the ceremonies instructed the sacrificer to ask them to be seated, and to place them at ease; after which they were urged to take some refreshment.

366:1 The Kû, who is mentioned here, was evidently an officer, 'one who makes or recites prayers.' The sacrifice he is said to offer was, probably, a libation, the pouring out fragrant spirits, as a part of the general service, and likely to attract the hovering spirits of the departed, on their approach to the temple. Hence his act was performed just inside the gate.

366:2 'Wives presiding,' i.e. the wife of the sacrificer, the principal in the service, and other ladies of the harem. The dishes under their care, the smaller dishes, would be those containing sauces, cakes, condiments, &c.

366:3 'The guests and visitors' would be nobles and officers of different surnames from the sacrificer, chosen by divination to take part in the sacrificial service.

366:4 'Present the cup all round' describes the ceremonies of drinking, which took place between the guests and visitors, the representatives of the dead, and the sacrificer.

367:1 The officer of prayer had in the first place obtained, or professed to have obtained, this answer of the progenitors from their personators.

367:2 The music now announced that the sacrificial service in the temple was ended.

367:3 The sacrificer, or principal in the service, now left the place which he had occupied, descended from the hall, and took his position at the foot of the steps on the east,--the place appropriate to him in dismissing his guests.

367:4 Where did they return to? According to Kâng Hsüan, 'To heaven.'

368:1 These uncles and cousins were all present at the sacrifice, and of the same surname as the principal. The feast to them was to show his peculiar affection for his relatives.

368:2 The feast was given in the apartment of the temple behind the hall where the sacrifice had been performed, so that the musicians are represented as going in to continue at the feast the music they had discoursed at the sacrifice.

368:3 The transition to the second person here is a difficulty. We can hardly make the speech, made by some one of the guests on behalf of all the others, commence here. We must come to the conclusion that the ode was written, in compliment to the sacrificer, by one of the relatives who shared in the feast; and so here he addresses him directly.

Next: Ode 6. The Hsin Nan Shan