The Guqin, also known as the Yaoqin or the seven-stringed lyre, is one of China’s oldest plucked string instruments. It became popular at the time of Confucius and has a history of at least four thousand years. According to the “Records of the Historian”, the Guqin, originally known as the Qin, appeared no later than the periods of emperors of Yao and Shun, ancestral father of the Chinese nation. Over the long historical period of ancient China, “Qin, Chess, Calligraphy and Painting琴棋书画” have always been regarded as the best method of self-cultivation for men of letters.
qín qí shū huà
Qin, Chess, Calligraphy and Painting
Of these, Guqin(古琴) is regarded as the most refined due to its light, cool and elegant quality of music, which reflects the character of inspirational Chinese scholars. It is the most ancient musical instrument that can still be heard on stage in China.
On November 7,2003, the Quqin was officially included in UNESCO’s second list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage”. “High Mountain and Flowing Water” is one of China’s Top Ten ancient classical music pieces for Guqin.
According to legend, Yu Boya, a famous ancient musician of the Qin Dynasty was good at playing the Guqin. Once in the wilderness, a woodcutter called Zhong Ziqi recognized the tune Yu was playing. Yu was surprised and said: “Good, you have a heart and mind like me.” But unfortunately Zhong died some time later. Feeling sorry to lose his soul mate, Yu Boya came to Zhong’s grave and played for his dead friend a final piece of music. He then broke his Guqin and no longer played the instrument.
Yu Boya and Zhong Ziqi [Photo: Baidu]
With that there came later the famous piece “High Mountain and Flowing Water 高山流水(gāo shān liú shuǐ)”, which also became an idiom that is often used to refer to one’s bosom friend or soul mate.