Sacred Texts

The principles of Confucianism are contained in the nine ancient Chinese works handed down by Confucius and his followers, who lived in an age of great philosophic activity. These writings can be divided into two groups: the Five Classics and the Four Books.

The Wujing (Wu Ching; Five Classics), which originated before the time of Confucius, consist of:

The I Ching (Yi jing, or Book of Changes),

Shu jing (Book of History)

Shi jing (Book of Songs)

Li ji (Book of Rites)

Chun qiu (Spring and Autumn Annals)

A sixth book, Yue jing (Book of Music), is often considered one of the Confucian Classics as well.

The I Ching is a manual of divination probably compiled before the 11th century bc; its supplementary philosophical portion, contained in a series of appendixes, may have been written later by Confucius and his disciples.

The Shu jing is a collection of ancient historical documents, and the Shi jing, an anthology of ancient poems.

The Li ji deals with the principles of conduct, including those for public and private ceremonies; it was destroyed in the 3rd century bc, but presumably much of its material was preserved in a later compilation, the Record of Rites.

The Chun qiu, the only work reputedly compiled by Confucius himself, is a chronicle of major historical events in feudal China from the 8th century bc to Confucius's death early in the 5th century bc.