Seven-stringed zither (Spring Breeze)

citation

Maker(s)
Calligrapher: Forged inscription of Wen Zhengming 文徵明 (1470-1559)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1368-1644
Medium
Lacquered wood, water buffalo horn, mother of pearl, and silk strings
Dimensions
H x W x D: 11 x 18.2 x 124.5 cm (4 5/16 x 7 3/16 x 49 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Shing Yiu Yip
Accession Number
F1999.8
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Musical Instrument
Type

Zither (qin)

Keywords
China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), qin, WWII-era provenance, zither
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

Notes:

[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).

Previous Owner(s)

Dr. Yip Shing Yiu
Mrs. Chan Wai Fong Yip died 1969

Label

This instrument's silhouette, traditionally called Zhongni (Confucius's given name), is the most common shape for the qin. The tradition that Confucius was an ardent advocate of the instrument's virtues and a master qin player, coupled with the strong Confucian following among emperors and scholarly elite during the Song (960-1279) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties made it a popular shape for qin dating from these periods.

The back of this qin bears the signature of Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), one of the foremost scholar-painters of his time, but is probably spurious. However, such an attribution, even if unsubstantiated, indicates that the qin was prized for its associations with cultured individuals. Possession of the instrument would have been considered an adequate reflection of its owner's virtues.

The inscription reads:

Spring Breeze

Zhengming (i.e. Wen Zhengming, 1470-1559)

Published References
  • 2000 Years of Chinese Lacquer. Exh. cat. Hong Kong. cat. 113.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum