Liji 礼记 "The Book of Rites"
The Liji 礼记 "Book of rites" is a collection of descriptions of ritual matters written during the late Warring States 战国 (5th cent.-221 BCE) andFormer Han 前汉 (206 BCE-8 CE) periods. It is one of the Five Confucian Classics (wujing 五经) and one of the three ritual classics (sanli 三礼). During the Former Han period books on ritual matters with a length of 131 chapters were brought together, one by the Confucian scholar Dai De 戴德 (Dai Senior 大戴) who compiled a collection of 85 chapters (called Da Dai Liji 大戴礼记 "Ritual book by Dai Senior"), and one by his nephew Dai Sheng戴圣, with a length of 49 chapters, which was accordingly called the Xiao Dai Liji 小戴礼记 "Ritual book by Dai Junior". At the end of the Later Han period 后汉 (25-220 CE) the book of Dai De ceased to be taught at theNational University (taixue 太学) and was overshadowed by the compilation of Dai Sheng which then became the orthodox classic on rituals, together with the Yili 仪礼 and the Zhouli 周礼. Its status as a classic was enhanced by the fact that the Confucian scholar Zheng Xuan 郑玄 wrote a commentary to Dai Sheng's Liji. Some of the chapters are similar in content to the Yili, like the capping or marriage ceremonies, but others are not contained in the Yili classic, like mourning clothes (sangfu 丧服) and the ritual game of pitch-pot (touhu 投壶). The Liji also contains some general chapters on Confucian ritual thinking, like the conveyance or rituals (Liyun礼运), ritual music (Yueji 乐记), or studies (Xueji 学记). The chapter Yueling月令 is not directly "Confucian" but describes the proceedings of the government in the different months from the viewpoint of early Chinese cosmological thinking. The traditional shape of Chinese government is described in the chapter Wangzhi 王制. The chapter Yueji has been interpreted by some scholars as the often-mentioned but actually never identified sixth Confucian classic (of the Six Classics Liuyi 六艺), namely that on ritual music. Two chapters have been extracted during the Song period 宋 (960-1279): the Zhongyong 中庸 "Doctrine of the Mean" and theDaxue 大学 "Great Learning". These two book became part of the so-called "Four Books" (sishu 四书).
The famous Tang period 唐 (618-907) scholar Kong Yingda 孔颖达 has written an 80 juan "scrolls" long commentary, the Liji zhengyi 礼记正义. During the Song period it was merged with Zheng Xuan's commentary to the Liji zhushu 礼记注疏， in 63 juan. At the same time Wei Shi 卫湜 wrote the a collection of commentaries, the Liji jishuo 礼记集说, in 150 juan. A book with the same title was compiled with by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) scholar Chen Gao 陈澔, but only 10 juan long, which was again extended by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Hu Guang 胡广 to the book Liji daquan 礼记大全. The most important Qing period 清 (1644-1911) commentary is Hang Shijun's 杭世骏 Xu Weishi Liji jishuo 续卫氏礼记集说, in 100 juan. A lot of commentators dealt with particular chapters of the Liji, like the Ming period commentator Huang Daozhou 黄道周 (Yueling mingyi月令明义, Ziji jizhuan 缁衣集传) or the Qing period scholar Shao Taiqu 邵泰衢 (Tangong yiwen 檀弓疑问).