射礼 – Chinese philosophy and culture

shèlǐ 射礼

Rites of Archery

射箭之礼,是古代人伦生活中的一项重要礼仪。“射”指射箭,是古代学子需要掌握的六种基本技能之一。“射礼”即是按照特定的仪程,安排宾主三番轮射。因射者的身份及礼仪场合不同,“射礼”又有大射、乡射、燕射之别。“射礼”中的射箭活动,除了追求中的(dì)的准度等实际射击效果,也要求射者身体和心态的端正,射的不中则反省自己的身心状态。这种射箭的要求和自省的态度,正符合道德修养的要求。因此,“射礼”除了比较射箭技艺,也具有辅助道德修养的意义。

The rites of archery were an important element in ancient Chinese etiquette. Archery was one of the six basic skills that scholars in ancient China needed to master. For a host and his guests, rites of archery involved three rounds of shooting. Based on the status of the participants and the occasion, there were three kinds of contests: the great contest (dashe) hosted by the king and ducal lords to select those to take part in sacrificial ceremonies, local contests (xiangshe) between scholars invited by local governors and held on the campuses of state-owned schools, and banquet contests (yanshe) hosted by the king or ducal lords when entertaining their officials. In such arrow shooting contests, archers must not only try hard to hit the target, they also needed to maintain the right stance and attitude. If one missed the target, he should think about whether he had maintained the right attitude. These requirements and the search for the cause of failure in oneself were in line with the requirements of moral cultivation. Therefore, in addition to being a contest of shooting skills, archery was important in fostering moral cultivation.

引例 Citations:

◎仁者如射,射者正己而后发;发而不中,不怨胜己者,反求诸己而已矣。(《孟子·公孙丑上》)

(仁者就好比射箭的人一样,射箭的人要首先端正自己的姿势然后发箭;发箭没有射中目标,不埋怨成绩超过自己的人,而是反躬自省而已。)

A virtuous man is like an archer. The archer adjusts himself and then shoots. Should he miss, he is not jealous of those who defeat him. He simply examines himself to find out why he has not won. (Mencius)

◎故射者,进退周还(xuán)必中礼,内志正,外体直,然后持弓矢审固,持弓矢审固,然后可以言中,此可以观德行矣。(《礼记·射义》)

(因此射箭之人,进退转身必须符合礼仪的规范,内在心志端正,身体挺直,然后手持弓箭稳定瞄准,手持弓箭稳定瞄准,然后才可以言及射中目标,由此可以观察射者的德行。)

The archer must move in a proper way when stepping forward and back and circling round. He should be focused, keep his body straight, hold the bow and arrow steadily and skillfully. Only then can he start shooting at the target. By observing his movement, one can learn about his moral character. (The Book of Rites)

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