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About this Item


  • Li ji

Other Title

  • 禮記

Translated Title

  • Annotated Edition of "The Book of Rites"


  • Li ji (The book of rites) is one of the Five Classics of the Confucian canon, which had significant influence on Chinese history and culture. The book was rewritten and edited by the disciples of Confucius and their students after the "Burning of the Books" during the rule of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, around 213 BC. The work describes the social forms, governmental system, and ceremonial rites of the Zhou Dynasty (1046--256 BC). Li literally means "rites," but it also can be used to refer to "ceremonial" or "rules of conduct," traditional forms that provided a standard of conduct. The ideas of Li became closely associated with human nature, ethics, and social order as the people integrated these ideas into their lives. The work contains decrees and institutions, rules and regulations, and rituals and etiquettes. In this edition a dozen or so taboo words of the Song dynasty were avoided. Such word avoidance was a practice prevalent until after the reign of Emperor Guangzong (1190--94). Thus the date of its printing can be placed prior to the end of the Guangzong period. The work has other distinctive characteristics. For example, the explanations of important meanings and words were printed in positive (white characters on a black background) and the areas of the center column of the page, called ban xin, are narrow. These printing features are identical to those of works printed in Jian'an, one of the three largest publishing centers during the Southern Song dynasty (1127--1279). The Confucian canon printed during the Southern Song at local printing workshops, especially in Jian'an, often had appended illustrations, similar quotations, and explanations and annotations from other works such as this one. Copies such as the one presented here were considered valuable for people taking civil examinations, as they helped in memorizing and understanding the texts. This copy originally was in the collection of Yuan Kewen (1890--1931), a literary scholar, calligrapher, and painter, who was the second son of Yuan Shikai (1859--1916), the second president of the Republic of China. The book contains Yuan Kewen's 1916 handwritten inscription, in which he states that this is a Jian'an copy. He found out later that the book originally had been in Tianyige, the oldest private library in China, but was stolen from there and sold.


  • Lu, Deming, approximately 550-630 Annotator
  • Zheng, Xuan, 127-200 Annotator

Created / Published

  • Jian'an, Fujian, China : [Publisher not identified], [1190 to 1194]


  • -  China
  • -  1046 B.C. to 246 B.C
  • -  Confucianism
  • -  Ethics--China
  • -  Etiquette--China
  • -  The Book of Rites


  • -  Title devised, in English, by Library staff.
  • -  "Only preface and juan 1--6 are included in the WDL presentation."--Note extracted from World Digital Library.
  • -  Original resource extent: 20 juan, 10 volumes, 16 x 11.6 centimeters.
  • -  Original resource at: National Central Library.
  • -  Content in Chinese.
  • -  Description based on data extracted from World Digital Library, which may be extracted from partner institutions.
  • -  Title revised per Asian Division.--cc28 2023-01-06


  • 1 online resource.

Source Collection

  • World History

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2021666359

Online Format

  • compressed data
  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

The Library of Congress is unaware of any copyright or other restrictions in the World Digital Library Collection. Absent any such restrictions, these materials are free to use and reuse. Researchers are encouraged to review the source information attached to each item. For information on contacting WDL partner organizations, see this archived list of partners

The Library asks that researchers approach the materials in this collection with respect for the culture and sensibilities of the people whose lives, ideas, and creativity are documented here.

Credit Line: [Original Source citation], World Digital Library

More about Copyright and other Restrictions

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For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Lu, Deming, Approximately 550-630 Annotator, and Xuan Zheng. LI Ji. [Jian'an, Fujian, China: Publisher not identified, to 1194, 1190] Pdf.

APA citation style:

Lu, D. & Zheng, X. (1190) LI Ji. [Jian'an, Fujian, China: Publisher not identified, to 1194] [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Lu, Deming, Approximately 550-630 Annotator, and Xuan Zheng. LI Ji. [Jian'an, Fujian, China: Publisher not identified, to 1194, 1190] Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.