I've recently discovered the ancient Chinese musical instrument, the Guqin and a lovely talented lady, Wang Fei. Wang Fei expertly plays and teaches the 'qin' and is founder and director of the North American Guqin Association (NAGA) and council member of the China Guqin Committee. She is a published writer and an international award winning digital artist.
The Guqin (pronounced ku-ch'in "ancient stringed instrument") is the modern name for a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family. It has been played since ancient times and has traditionally been favoured by scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement, as highlighted by the quote "a gentleman does not part with his qin or se without good reason," as well as being associated with the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius. It is sometimes referred to by the Chinese as "the father of Chinese music" or "the instrument of the sages".
There is much symbology surrounding the instrument. For example, it measures 3'6.5" (Chinese feet and inches), to symbolise the 365 days of the year; the upper surface is rounded, representing the sky, the bottom is flat and represents the earth.
Rock carving of a bodhisattva playing a guqin,
found in Shanxi, Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534)
Musee Guimet, Paris
Guqin music has been enlisted as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2003.
Confucius was a master of this instrument. For thousands of years, Guqin has been regarded as a very important element for education, for the purpose of enriching the heart and elevating human spirit. However, being considered as a high-class art form it has never been very popular throughout history.
In Imperial China, a well educated scholar was expected to be skilled in four arts:
Qin (the guqin)
Qi (the game of Go)
The U.S. spaceship "Voyager" was launched in 1977, a gold CD was placed on board to introduce the music of our planet to the rest of the universe. The guqin piece "Flowing Water" was included as one representative of the world's music.