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
The string holder is made of bone.
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.
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