If the piece was made, as the Chinese critics all suppose, by the duke of Kâu, we must still suppose that he writes in the person of an old farmer or yeoman of Pin. The picture which it gives of the manners of the Chinese people, their thrifty,
full of interest; but it is not till we come to the concluding stanza that we find anything bearing on their religious practices.
In the days of (our) second month, they hew out the ice with harmonious blows 1; And in those of (our) third month, they convey it to the ice-houses, (Which they open) in those of (our) fourth, early in the morning A lamb having been offered in sacrifice with scallions 2. In the ninth month, it is cold, with frost. In the tenth month, they sweep clean their stack-sites. (Taking) the two bottles of spirits to be offered to their ruler, And having killed their lambs and sheep, They go to his hall, And raising
the cup of rhinoceros horn, Wish him long life,--that he may live for ever 1.
445:1 They went for the ice to the deep recesses of the hills, and wherever it was to be found in the best condition.
445:2 It is said in the last chapter of 'the Great Learning,' that 'the family which keeps its stores of ice does not rear cattle or sheep,' meaning that the possessor of an ice-house must be supposed to be very wealthy, and above the necessity of increasing his means in the way described. Probably, the having ice-houses by high ministers and heads of clans was an innovation on the earlier custom, according to which such a distinction was proper only to the king, or the princes of states, on whom it devolved as I the fathers of the people,' to impart from their stores in the hot season as might be necessary. The third and fourth lines of this stanza are to be understood of what was done by the orders of the ruler of the tribe of Kâu in Pin. In the Official Book of Kâu, Part 1, ch. 5, we have a description of the duties of 'the Providers of Ice,' and the same subject is treated in the sixth Book of 'the Record of Rites,' sections 2 and 6. The ice having been collected and stored in winter, the ice-houses were solemnly opened in the spring. A sacrifice was offered to 'the Ruler of Cold, the Spirit of the Ice' and of the first ice brought forth an offering was set out in the apartment behind the principal hall of the ancestral temple. A sacrifice to the same Ruler of Cold, it is said, had also been offered when the ice began to be collected. The ceremony may be taken as an illustration of the manner in which religious services entered into the life of the ancient Chinese.
446:1 The custom described in the five concluding lines is mentioned to show the good and loyal feeling of the people of Pin towards their chief Having finished all the agricultural labours of the year, and being now prepared to enjoy the results of their industry, the first thing they do is to hasten to the hall of their ruler, and ask him to share in their joy, and express their loyal wishes for his happiness.