Confucius said, “Wearing only tattered work clothes while standing among gentlemen in their fineries, yet feeling no embarrassment. That’s Zilu, isn’t it?

Free of resentment, free of craving,

How could he do wrong?’”

On hearing this praise, Zilu took to repeating these lines over and over again.

Confucius said, “Is this really enough to be considered good?”


The noble man didn’t use crimson or maroon for the trim on his robes and didn’t use red or purple for his casual clothes. In the heat of summer, he wore an unlined outer garment of fine or coarse hemp, but always covered it with a jacket before going out.

With a black upper garment, he’d wear a lambskin robe. With a white upper garment, he’d wear a fawn-skin robe. With a yellow upper garment, he’d wear a fox-fur robe.

His casual fur robe was long, but had a short right sleeve.

His sleeping garment was knee-length.

At home, he’d sit on thick fox and badger skins as a cushion.

Unless he was in mourning, he’d wear whatever he liked as an ornament on his sash.

With the exception of his ceremonial robes, the layers of his robes would all be cut and hemmed to different lengths.

He never wore black lambskin coats or hats when making condolence visits.

On the first day of the new year, he’d always show up at court dressed in his black ceremonial garb.


When Confucius saw a person wearing clothes of mourning, even if it was someone he saw every day, his face would express grief. When he saw someone wearing a court cap or a blind person, even if it was someone he saw every day, he would become solemn.

If Confucius was riding in his carriage and he came across someone in mourning, or someone carrying official documents, he would bow down and grasp the crossbar.

If he was served a rare delicacy at a banquet, he would rise and express his appreciation.

He would also change his expression at the clap of thunder or a strong gust of wind.