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Qin and Books
        Full image 2
琴書 1 
Closeup: the qin leans against books just as the man does            
"Qin and books" is an expression used in popular literature to describe the interests of a cultivated person. As can be seen in this Korean painting there are so many books that the man is using some as a backrest. There is another scene showing qin with books under 古琴與友誼 Guqin and friendship.










Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Qin and books (琴書 Qin shu) 21570.42 琴書 qin shu says, this refers to "qin and books". It gives as references:

  1. 三國志,魏志,崔琰傳 the biography of Cui Yan (163–216) in the Wei Annals of the Annals of the Three Kingdoms. Here it says that in the 29th year he received instruction from 鄭玄 Zheng Xuan (127-200) then, having left home for four years, returned and "以琴書自娛 took pleasure in qin and books".
  2. 陶淵明 Tao Yuanming, quoting a line from his famous poem Gui Qu Lai Ci that says he was "樂琴書以消憂 happy to have qin and books to dispel melancholy".
  3. 何劭 He Shao ("逍遙綜琴書 at leisure went through his qin and books")
  4. 白居易 Bai Juyi (he and his wife were "鶴與琴書歌共一船 with a crane and his qin and books together on a boat").

In general, expressions such as "he loved qin and books" (樂琴書 le qinshu) were a way of showing someone had culure. (Compare "琴劍 qin and sword".)

For another illustration of qin and books see under Yangguan Sandie)

2. Image: Qin and books (琴書 Qin shu)
This image showing a scholar relaxing is by 李在寬 Yi Jae Kwan (1783 - 1837; also romanized Lee Jae Kwan, Yi Chae-gwan, etc.; 字小塘). It is a copy from the collection of the Korean National Museum. There are more images from Korea here

The Inscription says, "禽聲上下午睡初足 bird sounds above and below during a midday nap"; it is then signed with Yi's courtesy name, 小塘. Note that "禽聲 bird sound" has the same pronunciation as "琴聲 qin sound"; the two appear together in this comment on "讀書聲 the sound of reading books".

Return to Art with qins or see Art for qin melodies.