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Pipa

Pipa

琵琶

1800s

Wood, ivory, bone, gut

Overall: 95.4 x 27.4 x 8 cm (37 9/16 x 10 13/16 x 3 1/8 in.)

The Charles G. King, Jr. Collection. Gift of Ralph King in memory of Charles G. King, Jr. 1918.344

Exhibition

Migrations of Memory––The Poetry and Power of Music (平沙落雁 — 音樂的詩意與力量) (Chinese art rotation)

Did you know?

The string holder is made of bone.

Description

The term pipa, known since the 3rd century BC, describes the playing motion of the right hand: pi, “to play forward” (left), and pa, “to play backward” (right). A type of lute played with the fingers, it is used in opera and storytelling ensembles and has an impressive, virtuosic solo repertoire. Historic imagery, such as wall paintings, documents the spread of the pipa, along the Silk Road from western and central Asia to China. The bat finial here is a commonly used device on 19th-century Chinese lutes symbolizing good luck.

See also

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