Book of li

Propriety in Modern Society

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Part 3 of the 2018 interview with Dr. Alan Chan at Bond University, Australia. In Confucianism, propriety (or “ceremonies”, li 礼) is both an essential aspect of human behaviour as well as a medium through which people can interact with each other to create a harmonious and aesthetic space for relationship building and governance. The interviewer asks how propriety can be defined and practiced in modern times.

Video Series: The Performance of Confucian Rites- 儒家仪式的表现

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Video screen capture

In 2014, the Hong Kong School of Creative Media created an interactive application and a linear three-screen video re-enactment of the “Capping Ceremony of a Minor Official’s Son,” from the ancient “Book of Li”. The Book of Li (Etiquette and Ceremonial) is a classical text about social behaviour and ceremonial ritual during the Zhou dynasty.

The video shows that in Confucian philosophy, li as ‘ritual’ is a system of awareness and practice that was created for followers to reflect on Confucian traditions in light of the rapid modernisation that was occurring during the Zhou era. Li as a concept is concerned with aesthetics, ethics and ideology and it is shown to be a technique of the body and mind that is learned and inscribed.

The approach that the actors have taken to re-enact these rites is one historical accuracy in the scripting, movements, clothing, props and environment. The analytical approach to the documentation provides a detailed examination using advanced digital techniques, such as motion capture and augmented-reality annotation of movement, to maximise viewer experience.

Click on the following link to see the full video:

Remaking the Confucian Rites (2014) from Jeffrey Shaw on Vimeo.