Qin tuning key (qin zhenyao) with crouching bear

Historical period(s)
Eastern Zhou dynasty, 5th century BCE
H x W x D: 9.3 × 3.9 × 2.1 cm (3 11/16 × 1 9/16 × 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Musical Instrument

Zither tuning key (qin zhenyao)

bear, China, Eastern Zhou dynasty (770 - 221 BCE), WWII-era provenance

From at least 1949 to 1951
F. Low-Beer & Co., New York, N.Y., from at least May 1949 [1]

From June 1951
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Fritz Low-Beer (1906-1976) on June 27, 1951 [2]


[1] Fritz Low-Beer offered the object to the Freer Gallery of Art for acquisition in his correspondence with Archibald G. Wenley, Director, Freer Gallery of Art, in May 1949, see F. Low-Beer to A. G. Wenley, May 9, 1949, copy in object file. It was presented together with the bronze figure (F1951.7a) as two-part sculpture with bear and figure joined to look as if the figure was holding the bear aloft on a pole. The sculpture was approved for purchase in June 1949, see document confirming the examination of the object and approval by the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, the Commission of Fine Arts, and Katherine Rhoades, June 21, 1949, copy in object file.

[2] See Fritz Low-Beer & Co.’s invoice, dated June 27, 1951, where the object is listed with F1951.7a as “Bronze statuette of man with animal, Chinese, Loyang,” copy in object file. The acquisition was announced in “Chinese Art Recently Acquired by American Museums,” Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America VI (1952), fig. 10.

Previous Owner(s)

Fritz Low-Beer

Published References
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 15.
  • Jenny F. So, Emma C. Bunker. Traders and Raiders on China's Northern Frontier. Exh. cat. Seattle, 1995. pp. 97-98.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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