Seven-stringed zither (Spring Breeze)

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 4

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At A Glance

  • Period

  • Geography

  • Material

    Lacquered wood, water buffalo horn, mother of pearl, and silk strings
  • Dimension

    H x W x D: 11 x 18.2 x 124.5 cm (4 5/16 x 7 3/16 x 49 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Calligrapher

    Forged inscription of Wen Zhengming 文徵明 (1470-1559)
  • Description

    Stringed musical instrument made of wood and coated in a dark brown lacquer. Shape is long and narrow with a slightly convex surface and a flat back. Below the head, which contains the bridge for the strings, is a recessed neck, wide shoulders, narrow waist and round-edged tail. On the proper right side of the front are thirteen shell studs, inlaid along the length at unequal intervals.
    On the back are two cut-out rectangular openings: a larger one ("Dragon Pool") near the center and a smaller one ("Phoenix Pond") near the tail. There are seven silk strings, tied on the front at the bridge ("Dew Receptacle"), drawn across the length of the qin through a narrow recess ("Dragon Gum") in the tail and then wrapped and knotted around two turned wood legs ("Goose Feet") inserted into the lower half of the back. Connected to the strings tied on the front are seven horn tuning pegs set into a recess ("Peg Pool") on the back. The pegs have blue silk cordage with tassels. At the top of the head, seen on the back, are two curved feet ("Peg Guards").
    There are two inscriptions on the back, located between the neck and shoulder. Both are incised. The center one is partially filled with a white material; the left facing one is partially filled with a red, glossy material, probably lacquer.
  • Inscriptions

    Inscription by Wen Zhengming (fake)
    Inscription by Wen Zhengming (fake)
  • Provenance

    Mrs. Chan Wai Fong Yip (died 1969), Hong Kong [1]
    To 1999
    Dr. Yip Shing Yiu, Hong Kong, by descent, to 1999 [2]
    From 1999
    Freer Gallery of Art, given by Dr. Yip Shing Yiu in 1999
    [1] In a letter dated April 22, 1999 (see copy in the object file), Dr. Shing Yiu Yip explains how the objects came to be with his mother, Mrs. Chan Wai Fong Yip: "…they came from her family with several qin players, in Guangzhou, and were given or left to her in Hong Kong before World War II, and so probably acquired in the late 30's, as I could remember them from childhood during the War in Hong Kong" (according to Curatorial Note 4 in the object record).
    [2] Dr. Yip Shing Yiu donated to the museum in 1999, see acquisition file.
    [3] See note 2.
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Painting with Words: Gentlemen Artists of the Ming Dynasty (April 16 to July 24, 2016)
    Virtue and Entertainment: Chinese Music in the Visual Arts (October 1, 2005 to May 29, 2006)
    The Dragon's Moan (February 6 to October 1, 2000)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Mrs. Chan Wai Fong Yip (died 1969)
    Dr. Yip Shing Yiu (born 1933)
  • Origin

  • Credit Line

    Gift of Dr. Shing Yiu Yip
  • Type

    Musical Instrument
  • Restrictions and Rights

    Usage Conditions Apply

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