Confucianism, the Literati, and Chinese Imperial Traditions

Customs and Rituals

What are the principal Confucian and CIT rites of passage?

Confucian tradition prescribes a full range of very detailed ritual procedures to be observed for various family, as well as a few public, occasions. They differ from rites of passage in many other traditions in that they generally do not assume an overtly religious form. Confucian teaching places enormous emphasis on ritualized attentiveness to every detail of daily family life. All of that occurs within the larger, presumed context of life under Heaven and in a society that is at least potentially just and harmonious. In pre-modern times, many Chinese practiced rites of initiation for young women and men alike. Families conferred on young men a hat and a name symbolizing maturity. Young women received some new clothes and had their hair done specially. More recently, Chinese social custom has linked these rituals to marriage, now considered the primary sign of adulthood.


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