Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 3.djvu/20

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xviii
PREFACE.


An additional interest belongs to the Yî as the fountainhead from which the comparatively modern philosophers of the Sung dynasty (began A. D. 960) professed to draw what has been called their 'atheo-political' system. As an appendix to the translation of the Yî, there will be given an outline of that system, and an attempt will be made to test the correctness of the interpretation of this classic by its authors.

The fourth of the great classics is the Lî Kî, or the Record of Rites; but it is only one of a class that we may denominate the Constitutional and Ritual Books of ancient China, especially under the Kâu dynasty. They are often mentioned together as 'the Three Rituals.' The first of them is called Kâu Lî, the Rites of Kâu, and also Kâu Kwan, the Officers of Kâu, which latter is the better name for it. It is the official book of the Kâu dynasty. The prevailing opinion is that it was the production of the duke of Kâu, and if it were not composed in its present form by him, it contains, no doubt, the substance of the regulations which he made for the administration of the government, after the dynasty of Shang had passed, through the achievements of his father and brother, into that of Kâu. Under the various departments in which that administration was arranged, it enumerates the principal and subordinate officers belonging to each, and describes their duties. After the fires of Khin, the work was recovered nearly complete in the first century B. C. A good translation of the whole work was published in 1851, at Paris, by M. Edouard Biot.

The second Ritual Collection bears the name of Î Lî, which has been translated 'the Decorum Ritual,' and 'the Rules of Demeanour.' It was recovered earlier than the former, and is as voluminous. It consists of the rules by which a scholar or officer should regulate his behaviour on social and state occasions. It has not yet, so far as I know, been translated into any European language.

The third Collection, more voluminous than either of the others, was made also under the Han dynasty. In the first century B. C., it was an immense compilation of 214 books arranged in five divisions. The 214 were reduced