Confucian Rites of Passage: A Comparative Analysis of Zhu Xi’s Family Rituals

  • Ping-Cheung LoEmail author
Part of the Philosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture book series (PSCC, volume 21)


In this chapter I examine critically a very important and widely influential Confucian manual of family rituals, viz., Family Rituals compiled by Zhu Xi more than 800 years ago. It is a manual on four rituals: capping and pinning (initiation), wedding, funeral, and rituals to ancestral spirits. The first three are equivalent to what anthropologists call “rites of passage.” I analyze these four rituals one by one by making use of ideas and distinctions in contemporary ritual studies. After the detailed analysis we are able to see some significant differences between the rites of passage in Confucianism and those in other cultures. The religious dimension of these rituals is also analyzed and assessed, and the relationship between family rituals and family virtues is articulated. I conclude that there is the need to renew modern society via traditional family rituals for America as well as for China.


Confucian rites family rituals Zhu Xi Rites of passage Ancestor worship Virtue 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religion and Philosophy, Faculty of ArtsCenter for Applied Ethics, Hong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongHong Kong SAR

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