Chinese poem illustration: 小雅 宾之初筵/ Xiaoya – Guests Entering Dinning Hall by Anonymous
Archery and driving chariot are the most important among Six Skills(六艺: 礼、乐、射、御、书、数) which are the essential skills in battlefield. To safeguard homeland and wealth is still one of the few highest priority tasks in a modern society, not to say for Zhou people. Zhou people ingeniously integrated this social value in their daily life and entertaiment by introducing shooting game into code of conduct(周礼). The shooting game illustrated in this poem is a good example to undersand this tradition.
This poem was not well explained through the history only because the inablility to understand the significane of archery, excessive focus on the ritual and code of conduct, thus this poem was concluded as a blaming poem to alcoholism. I would rather take this poem as an official document by central goverment: report of a state banquet.
The second part is about third to fifth paragraph. The first two paragraph actually completely recorded a lovely and happy event, from the first round toasts, shooting games, sacrifice to Zhou’s ancestors, awarding to winners and finally go back to their dining sheets(酒席) celebrating with endless drinks(无算爵).
While in the third and fourth paragraph, the poet examined drinking event with full details, apparently those drunk high-class does not behaves much differently from today’s average Chinese people. The poet drew his conclusion in the final paragraph: per Zhou’s rules(周礼), drinking is always greatly encouraged as far as you behaving as a gentlemen, I(poet himself) am always available to help on building and enforcing this rule of drinking.
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