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Freer and Sackler Galleries
of the Smithsonian Museum
弗利爾美術館 1
From the back of Kumu Longyin 2  

The Freer and Sackler Galleries have at least five lacquered qin zithers plus two more made of iron or bronze. As of 2014 at least six of these seven could be seen online (the "type" of each listed as "zither [qin]3)

Dragon's Moan (Tang to Northern Song dynasty)
No name (Song Dynasty ["seven-stringed lute [qin]")
Spring Breeze (Ming dynasty ["Seven-stringed zither"])
No name (Ming dynasty ["zither"])
No name (Ming dynasty bronze qin ["zither"])
No name (Ming dynasty iron qin ["musical instrument (qin)"])

The other one, not yet shown online, is:

Jie Feng (Melodious Phoenix)

From 6 February to 1 October 2000 three qins from the collection were displayed in an exhibition called The Dragon's Moan, named after the qin of that name in their collection. And from 30 April to 17 September the Sackler Gallery exhibition Music in the Age of Confucius exhibited what might have been predecessors of the qin, but these were not from their permanent collection.

When I first visited the museum storage area, in 1997, I saw two of their lacquered wooden qins and the two iron qins. The wooden ones were Dragon's Moan and one called Jie Feng (Melodious Phoenix), which did not go on display in the exhibition, instead being replaced by a newly acquired Ming dynasty qin called Spring Breeze, said to be in playing condition. In 1997 the only one in playing condition was one of the two iron qins, but of course it had a very weak tone.

What prompted me to visit the museum at that time was that I had just produced my first CD using a borrowed Song dynasty qin, and was hoping a museum might let me use one of their antique qins to do my Shen Qi Mi Pu recordings.

I was particularly interested in Dragon's Moan, whose full title is Kumu Longyin, meaning "the Dragon moans from the dried wood". Several players in China (including Wang Shixiang, see below) had recommended it to me. Apparently several famous Chinese players and scholars who examined this qin in the 1940s spoke so highly of it that it now has a reputation as the best instrument in an American museum.

During my visit I saw in museum records that Zha Fuxi re-strung it in 1945 and Wang Shixiang himself re-strung it in 1948. They said it dates from either Tang or Song dynasty.

Unfortunately, in 1997 I found that the lacquer near the lower studs was so uneven that the instrument was no longer playable. At that time I was told the Museum had a policy of not repairing such instruments.

In 2002 I revisited the collection together with other members of the New York Qin Society, at which time I was told that either I was misinformed or the policy has changed, and that this one may soon be restored. The museum had also recently acquired another Ming dynasty instrument.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Freer and Sackler Galleries (弗利爾美術館)
Freer was the original museum and the common Chinese title uses only that name. The full title should be 弗利爾及賽克勒美術館 Fulier ji Saikele Meishuguan.

2. Inscription on the back of the Freer/Sackler's qin called Dragon's Moan (枯木龍吟 Kumu Longyin)
Image edited from a photo by Stephen Bourne, one of a set taken during the 2002 visit by the New York Qin Society.

3. Zither (qin)
Though as of 2015 the "type" of each is said to be "zither qin" , some are titled differently, such as the second in the above list. Since this page was made the URLS have changed; now the URLS follow the accession numbers, so hopefully this will not change again soon.

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