Hong-wu: Year 12, Month 2, Day 12
28 Feb 1379
The Minister of Rites Zhu Meng-yan, in memorializing on the fixing of the rites applicable when envoys were sent to foreign countries, brought attention to those applicable to Annam: "Any envoy, on arriving at the border of this country, will send a person to advise the king of this fact. The king will then send ministers to welcome the envoy in the suburbs, and will set up an incense altar within the main hall of the palace. If wine and goods are to be conferred, another table should be set up to the North of the incense altar. An Imperial insignia with coloured banners should be set up in the residence. When the envoy reaches the residence, the king will lead all his ministers there to welcome him. With drums, music and banners, the king and the ministers will lead the way, while the envoy follows behind the Imperial insignia. When they reach the main hall of the king's palace, the envoy will stand to the left of the Imperial insignia. The king will then lead all his ministers in doing obeissance by bowing three times and kowtowing three times. After this they will face the envoy. With the envoy on the left and the king on the right, they will repeat the act of obeissance. The envoy will enter and leave the king's palace by the main avenue and will mount and dismount from his horse in front of the main gate of the palace. The king will meet and send off the envoy outside the palace gates. The seating arrangements should be so the envoy is on the left and the king is on the right." The Emperor said: "China, in its relations with the yi in the four directions, pays attention only to loyalty and does not put undue emphasis on frequent ceremony and ritual. From now on, if there is no cause, Imperial instructions and despatches should not be repeatedly sent to Annam. In offering tribute, Annam should come once every three years and the number of people sent should not exceed five. They should ensure that the goods offered in tribute are simple and frugal and are carried by the envoys themselves. This will save the trouble of the people who usually have to carry the goods. The goods should not be valuable or in great quantities, but should simply be an indication of loyalty.
Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 5, page 1975/76