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The Ming State Sacrifice |
In “State sacrifices and music in Ming China…” by Joseph Sui Ching Lam: http://books.google.com.au/books ... e&q&f=false, Joseph Lam gave a comprehensive detailed description of State sacrifices and music in Ming China. The below article was copied from the above website.
… State sacrifices were traditionally ranked as great, middle, and small ceremonial according to three basic criteria: importance of the deities being worshipped; the court’s assessment of the ceremonials; and particular contextual considerations…
The three ranks of state sacrifices were general classifications. Ceremonials belonging to the same rank could be further differentiated by the use of various ritual and musical elements, such as the types of sacrificial jade, the colors of the sacrificial silk, and the sizes of the escort for the celebrants. For example, the state sacrifices offered to the progenitors of agriculture and sericulture were both classified as middle ceremonials. However, the former ceremonial involved the sacrificial victims of an ox, a pig and a goat, while the latter, only a pig, and a goat; the size of the altar proper for former was longer than that of the latter…
The Ming State Sacrifice to Heaven
Ming state sacrifices were large-scale and presentational ceremonials, and their basic structure and principles of operation can be illustrated by the following sketch of the ritual-musical process of the state sacrifice to Heaven.
Fifty day prior to the performance of the sacrificial ceremony in the round-mound-altar compound (yuanqiu), located in the southern suburb of the capital, the emperor was asked to officiate at the pending event. Thirty days prior, the music director began rehearing the music of the ceremony. Six days prior, the emperor informed the ancestors that he would, on the following day, take a trip to the round-mound-altar compound to inspect the sacrificial animals. Four days prior, all participants in the sacrificial ceremony were reminded the three days of intense abstention would begin on the following day. Three days prior, the emperor went to the temple of imperial ancestors and invite the spirit of the founder to participate in the pending ceremony as Heaven’s companion. Two days prior, the emperor offered incense to individual ancestors in the hall of rest inside of the imperial ancestral temple compound, bidding farewell to his predecessor. One day prior, the emperor left for the abstention hall in the round-mound-altar compound. On the same day, ritual staffs arranged the spirits, musical instruments, and other ritual paraphernalia on the altar proper…
By midnight of the day of performance, the emperor was waiting in the great canopy. Donning full ritual regalia, the emperor proceeded to his obeisant-post on the second tier of the altar proper. Then when all participants took their ritual positions, the sacrificial ceremony formally began with intoner chanting the words “kindle the torches” and “welcome the deities”.
With the altar proper brilliantly illuminated, the first stage of ceremony began … Accompanied by musical sounds, the emperor approached the incense table (xiang’an) and offered three rounds of incense to the deity. He repeated the same series of gestures …to the deities.
The second stage of sacrificial ceremony began with the intoner chanting the words “offer the jade & silk”... the emperor approached the spirit-throne of Heaven, kneeled, and offered the jade and silk to the deity …He repeated the same series of ceremonial gestures and offering to the companion…
The third stage of sacrificial ceremony began with the intoner chanting the words “deliver the sacrificial food” … After the food delivery was completed, the emperor approached the spirit-thrones, offered the food to the deities, returned to his obeisant-post …
The fourth stage of sacrificial ceremony began with the intoner chanting the words “present the first offer of wine” … the emperor approached the spirit-throne of Heaven, accept a goblet of wine from a staff, and offered it to the deity. Having completed his gesture of offering, the emperor moved to a position where he would listen to a ritual officer’s reading of prayer prepared for the occasion …
The fifth stage was the second offering of wine …
The sixth stage was the last offering of wine… the emperor offered wine to Heaven and the companion. At the conclusion of the offering, the intoner chanted the words “bestow the blessed wine and meat.” Taking that as a cue, the emperor move to a position where would drink the blessed wine (yin fujiu) and received the blessed meat (shouzou) … In silence, the emperor received the blessed wine and meat, performed the prostration, and returned to his obeisant-post. There the emperor and all present performed the four obeisances.
The seventh stage of the ceremony was the removal of the sacrificial food by the ritual staff …
The eighth stage began with the intoner chanting the words “farewell to the deities” …the emperor and all present performed the four obeisances. Then, the ritual staffs collected the ritual documents, silk, and food and delivered them to the furnace (taitan). The emperor moved to east of his obeisant post.
The ninth stage consisted of watching the burning of sacrificial articles …When about half of the wood and sacred articles in the furnace was burned, the intoner announced the completion of the sacrificial ceremony …the emperor retreated to the great canopy, where he removed his sacrificial regalia. Then he embarked on his trip back to the palace …” Unquote