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Guqin

Guqin

古琴

1600s

China, Ming dynasty

(1368–1644)

Wood, horn, silk, mother-of-pearl

Overall: 4.5 x 18.1 x 123.5 cm (1 3/4 x 7 1/8 x 48 5/8 in.)

The Charles G. King, Jr. Collection. Gift of Ralph King in memory of Charles G. King, Jr. 1918.371

Location

Did you know?

The 13 studs in mother-of-pearl inlay indicate finger positions for sounding harmonics.

Description

Empowered to communicate profound feelings, the guqin-zither, beloved of sages and the philosopher Confucius, is the most prestigious instrument in China. Han dynasty (202 BC–220 AD) writers claim that the guqin helped cultivate character, understand morality, enhance life, and enrich learning. In paintings, Chinese literati are typically playing the instrument in a landscape setting, as the sound of the guqin symbolizes harmony between man and nature. Guqins more than 100 years old are considered best. Strings of varying thicknesses are made of twisted silk.

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