Book of Rites or Liji (trad. 禮記, simp. 礼记)


Book of Rites, Li Yun 22-23Edit

Chinese originalEdit



English translation (James Legge, 1885)Edit

The four intelligent creatures being made to become domestic animals, there would be constant sources of food and drink.

What were the four intelligent creatures? They were the Qi-lin, the phoenix, the tortoise, and the dragon. When the dragon becomes a domestic animal, (all other) fishes and the sturgeon do not lie hidden from men (in the mud). When the phoenix becomes so, the birds do not fly from them in terror. When the Qi-lin does so, the beasts do not scamper away. When the tortoise does so, the feelings of men take no erroneous course.

Book of Rites, Li Yun 33Edit

Chinese originalEdit


English translation (James Legge, 1885)Edit

The sage kings showed their sense of this state of harmony in the following way: They did not make the occupants of the hills (remove and) live by the streams, nor the occupants of the islands (remove and live) in the plains; and thus the (people) complained of no hardship. They used water, fire, metal, wood, and the different articles of food and drink, each in its proper season. They promoted the marriages of men and women, and distributed rank and office, according to the years and virtues of the parties. They employed the people with due regard to their duties and wishes. Thus it was that there were no plagues of flood, drought, or insects, and the people did not suffer from bad grass or famine, from untimely deaths or irregular births. On account of all this heaven did not grudge its methods; earth did not grudge its treasures; men did not grudge (the regulation of) their feelings. Heaven sent down its fattening dews; earth sent forth its springs of sweet wine; hills produced implements and chariots; the Ho sent forth the horse with the map (on, his back)'. Phoenixes and Qi-lins were among the trees of the suburbs, tortoises and dragons in the ponds of the palaces, while the other birds and beasts could be seen at a glance in their nests and breeding places. All this resulted from no other cause but that the ancient kings were able to fashion their ceremonial usages so as to convey the underlying ideas of right, and embody their truthfulness so as to secure the universal and mutual harmony. This was the realisation of it.

External linksEdit