Rare Ming Qin (Guqin) Music Instrument Table

Ming Dynasty (1368-1643); elm wood; Shanxi;

H: 37″, L:39.5″, D: 20″

This Qin table is very rare. Legend has it that the qin, the most revered of all Chinese musical instruments, has a history of about 5000 years, and that the legendary figures of China’s prehistory three “Yellow Emperors” were involved with its creation. Examples of this instrument have been found in tombs from about 2500 years ago.

The Qin is a very quiet instrument. It has traditionally been favored by the scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement, and is known to be associated with the Chinese philosopher Confucius. The harmonious sound was so appreciated by the elite class that it became the instrument of choice for ritual ceremonies in the imperial court and at banquets of high officials. At formal dining occasions, a courtesan would sit at a Qin table to entertain guests with the music; then she would retire and the table would be used as a special private dining table for two.

This present Qin table is constructed in the traditional method, with a floating panel in the top plank. Each end curves gracefully downwards in a wide arc and scrolls sharply back up towards the underside of the top plank, presenting a “draped” profile that makes this table appear as a waisted square-cornered-legs table. The front mirrors the back in construction, with a hump-back stretcher connecting the straight legs, and two stretchers connecting the sides. Some of the original dark lacquer has faded a little with age. It came out of Shanxi the way it is, with nothing changed.

In 2003, Guqin music was proclaimed as one of the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.