On the Character Jun
Keywords:《儀禮》, 《禮記》, 佐餕, 百官進, 餘食, Yili, Liji, zuojun, baiguan jin, leftovers
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in Chinese; abstract also in English.
The Chinese character jun 餕 refers to a ritual of eating and sacrificial ceremonies as recorded in traditional documents on rites. Scholars tend to gloss the ritual as “eating the leftovers.” The nature, forms, and significance of the ritual, however, have remained understudied. Jun is a common ritual that appears in ceremonies for both the living and deceased. The ritual is evident not only in daily etiquette, but also at wedding ceremonies, rituals for receiving a newborn, and the grand feasts. In addition, it is an essential part of sacrificial ceremonies. This article reconstructs the jun ritual in different settings in an attempt to clarify some misunderstandings of related written records, including the phrase zi fu zuo jun 子婦佐餕 in the “Neize” chapter of the Liji, which should be understood as two separate words: zuo (serving food) and jun (eating the leftovers). Also, the phrase baiguan jin 百官進 in the “Jitong” chapter of the Liji should mean the numerous officers eating the leftovers down the hall. Through the examination, we confirm the actual connotations of jun, such as its venue, forms, and number of participants; and summarize thirteen rules of the ritual. Another focus of this article is an investigation of the multiple significances of the ritual. Its usual practice is that the lower class eats the leftovers from the upper class (defined by status or by age), to make sure that the upper class can always be served a fresh meal. It carries the significance of respecting the noble and upper class. The jun ritual at wedding ceremonies shows the intimacy of the newly wedded couple and the harmony of their family. In a sacrificial ceremony, jun adheres to the rules of distributing meats according to the hierarchical order to let the god’s grace reach everyone in the temple, including the inferiors. This represents the distribution of grace from both the god and the ruler, also showing the hierarchy. The banzuo 頒 胙 and zhifan 致膰 after the ceremony can be seen as the extension of jun outside the temple. However, the core significance of jun is filial piety. That the superiors give back leftovers after they have been served by the inferiors illustrates a low-high filial interaction and blessing, a different dimension of reciprocity. The leftovers in the ritual are significant as they carry a symbolic meaning of grace and favor.
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