Yi li tu [or] Zhang Gaowen yi li tu [The Rites in the Book of Etiquette].

Numerous woodcuts in the text. 50; 102; 94 folding leaves. Six parts in three vols. Large 8vo, orig. wrappers (wrappers frayed), orig. block-printed labels on upper covers (the remains of the label for the first vol. detached & laid-in), new stitching. [China]: Preface dated 1805.

First edition of this handsomely and cleverly illustrated book; it is most uncommon. Zhang (1761-1802), calligrapher, poet, and scholar, “was well known for his calligraphy, especially in the chuan or archaic style. As a classicist, his contribution lay chiefly in the study of the Classic of Changes and the Decorum Ritual (I-li) [which] exhibits minutely by means of diagrams the various rules of etiquette.”–Hummel, ed., Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period (1644-1912), Vol. I, pp. 42-43.

This work, posthumously published, contains a valuable Preface by Yuan Ruan (or Juan, 1764-1849), scholar, philosopher, government official, educator, and bibliophile. The most prominent Chinese scholar during the first half of the 19th century, he was also a noted patron of other scholars.

The Yili [Book of Etiquette], which documents in detail the correct behavioral configurations in ritual ceremonies, is believed to have been compiled during the Warring States period. It gained significant popularity during the Han dynasty. By the end of the third century A.D., it had been largely re-compiled into one of the canonic liturgies of Confucian classics. The re-constructed Book of Etiquette documents the detailed procedures of the major ritual observances, which included capping (for boys reaching adulthood, at age 19) and pinning (for girls attaining adulthood, at age 15), marriage, mourning rites, feasts, and formal visits. Its rules profoundly influenced the everyday habits and behaviors of people in the upper echelons of society.

The rituals described and illustrated in this book are incredibly complex. Our work contains many illustrations and diagrams of the various rules, all aspects of etiquette, several idealized floor plans of palaces and luxurious houses, activities (drinking wine, archery, etc.), and attire for different ranks of nobility during the rites ceremonies. The various ceremonies and the paths of processions are cleverly depicted on the floor plans, all with dense explanatory text. There are also charts, which minutely describe the costumes for each occasion and for all ranks of men and women, ranging from emperors to servants.

Very good set, preserved in a hantao.

❧ Ruan: Hummel, ed., Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period (1644-1912), Vol. I, pp. 399-402. For an example of just how complex these ceremonies were, see Grant Hardy, “The Reconstruction of Ritual: Capping in Ancient China” in Journal of Ritual Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Summer 1993), pp. 69-90.

Price: $5,500.00

Item ID: 7973

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