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

Ping Cheung Lo

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRitual and the Moral Life
Subtitle of host publicationReclaiming the Tradition
EditorsDavid Solomon, Ruiping Fan, Ping-cheung Lo
PublisherSpringer, Dordrecht
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9789400727564
ISBN (Print)9789400727557, 9789400793125
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2012

Publication series

NamePhilosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture
ISSN (Print)0928-9518

User-Defined Keywords

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


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