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Qin Biographies     Qin Shi Bu 網站目錄
Fu Xi
- Qin Shi Bu #1: Tai Hao
 
伏羲 1
琴史補 #1: 太昊 2
宓羲之制 The system of Fuxi (for qin play) 3      
The title of the entry for Fuxi in Qin Shi Bu is actually Tai Hao. This is said to have been his rule name, with the traditional dates for this now given as 2852-2737. However, most information about Fu Xi dates only from the Han dynasty: this is generally not clear from all the stories available about Fu Xi on the internet or even in published sources. Much of that is confusing, not to mention conflicting. This is also true of the present focus, which is solely on Fu Xi's purported connection to the guqin.

The Fu Xi entry in Qin Shi Bu is one of several accounts of Fu Xi making the first qin. Other stories have other people creating it. For example, it was sometimes said that Shen Nong actually made the first qin (see Origins of the Qin). In fact, it should be emphasized that stories of the origin of the qin are all purely legend: although there is some evidence suggesting string instruments may have existed prior to the Zhou dynasty (11th c. BCE; see further), there is no evidence to suggest their nature other than that they quite likely were zithers: the earliest known characters for stringed instruments are "qin" and "se", both zithers. But these can be traced only to the middle Zhou period, around the time of Confucius. Descriptions of their form date only from the 3rd c. CE (see comment on the Chu stringed instruments).

It should also be noted that according to the Qin Shi Xu text, the qin (or one of them) that Fu Xi created actually had 27 strings and was called a li; the classical text Er Ya says a li was a "big qin, while the Book of Rites says li referred to "the sound of silk strings".4

An account somewhat different from here of Fu Xi making a qin can be found in Qin Shi Lu. The original text there says,5

Mr. Fu Xi saw phoenixes collecting by a tong tree, so he made a qin shaped like a phoenix head, tail, wings and feet. Upright it was 3 chi high and lengthwise it was 3 chi plus 6 cun and 6 fen.... (translation incomplete)

On this website, other references to Fu Xi and the qin can be found here:

  1. Qin illustration 1 in Taiyin Daquanji claims to be a depiction of his qin.
  2. The Qin Cao Preface states reasons Fu Xi created the qin.
  3. The opening sentence of the Shen Qi Mi Pu Preface has Fu Xi not directly creating the qin, but fixing the tones so that the qin could be created.
  4. Taiyin Daquanji, Folio 1 D begins its discussion of qin assemblage by discussing dimensions said to have been handed down by Fu Xi.

On other sites further stories - or re-tellings of this story -- can be found.6 For example there is one that tells of Fu Xi first searching for and finding his father, the Thunder Deity, then working hard to help people carry out their work, then finally deciding that for enjoyment they needed a music instrument. While traveling in the eastern mountains he saw a tong tree. There were several birds in the tree and in particular two large ones underneath. He then spoke to 句芒 Jumang, the deity of the tree, who said they were phoenixes. They studied the shape and sound of the wood, with Fu Xi eventually using if for qin construction.

The entry for Fu Xi in Qin Shi Bu is as follows:7

Tai Hao was from the Fuxi clan; his surname was Feng. By nature he had sacred virtue, in appearance he had the brightness of the sun and moon, so he was called Great Magnificence. He taught the people hunting, fishing and domesticating animals, observing them so as to show people how to use them. So (his family) was called Fu Xi (? Humble Breath). He cut down a piece of tong wood to make a qin; the qin was 7 chi 2 cun long. He used silk cord for strings. The one with 27 strings he called 離 li (oriole?)....(translation incomplete. There is more discussion of dimensions and also of giving names of different parts of the instrument).  
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 太昊 Tai Hao (伏羲 Fu Xi) (traditional rule dates 2852-2737; Wiki)
For the connection between myth and history one should begin with a book such as Anne Birrell, Chinese Mythology. Prof. Birrell points out that, for example, prior to the Han dynasty Tai Hao ("Great Magnificence") seems to refer to a different person from Fu Xi ("Prostrate Breath"?); neither was very prominent. Thus, there is no entry for 伏羲 Fu Xi in the Sima Qian's Shi Ji, mentioning this name only in the chapter on Diviners, which says he devised the eight trigrams, instead mentioning several times 虙羲 (also Fu Xi), 泰帝 and 太帝 (both Tai Di: Great Emperor). Other names for him include Bao Xi (包犧) and Pao Xi (庖犧), with perhaps 牺 instead of 犧.

Tai Hao (5965.231: also 太皥: 伏羲氏 Fuxi clan), literally "Great Magnificence", came to be used as the rule name of Fu Xi. 435.153 Fu Xi 伏羲 quotes Baihu Tong saying he was one of the Three Majesties (10.975 三皇 San Huang, quoting Fengsu Tong: Fu Xi, Nü Wa and Shen Nong). Elsewhere (e.g., Giles, who gives dates 2953 - 2838): first of five legendary emperors. On many lists Fu Xi is given as the first emperor. He is identified as being the 太帝 Great Emperor who is said to have caused Su Nü to play the 50-string se. Some say he initiated the hexagrams of the Yi Jing.
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2. Qin Shi Bu entry details
12 lines. Sources given are 網鑑 Wang Jian (28194.32 compilations by various 17th c. neo-Confucians); 古琴疏 Gu Qin Shu (QSCM #144 Song, and #155 Ming); 世本 Shi Ben (by Liu Xiang).
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3. 宓羲之制 System of Fuxi (for qin play) (compare Emperor Yao's style)
宓 is sometimes pronounced "mi" but presumably here it is "fu", as in Fu Buqi. The image above is from a series (宋人畫歷代琴式圖) that includes 宓羲之制 (note that the qin style is different from the one shown here). The original is in the 國立故宮博物院 National Palace Museum. The accompanying text begins, "太昊宓羲氏...."; it is somewhat unclear, but there is some mention of qin in the text ("以為琴法"), including measurements.

As for the picture here at right, 伏羲女媧 Fuxi and his sister Nü Wa (expand), it can be found in a number of places on the internet. Commentary says the image was 四川合江張家泃二号墓出土 dug up from the #2 grave in Zhangjiaju, Hejiang, Sichuan. This is but one of many depictions of Fu Xi together with Nü Wa (her page has another), with him holding a carpenter's square while she holds a drawing compass.
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4. Li: a qin with 20 or more strings
Zithers with other numbers of strings are also mentioned under origins. As for the li, 43079.0 離, towards the end of 甲, has two relevant explanations,

  1. "大琴也 a big qin", quoting 爾雅釋樂 the Shi Yue chapter of Er Ya;
    See CTP, 釋樂 Shi Yue #3: "大琴謂之離 a big qin is called a li".
  2. "絲絃之音也 sound of silk strings", quoting 禮記,樂記,絲聲哀,疏 a commentary (Shu) on the phrase "melancholy silk strings" in the Yue Ji section of the Li Ji.
    CTP, Yue Ji 42 has "絲聲哀" but no mention of "離".

The illustration of a qin associated with Fu Xi quotes a second century BCE source (Han Ying) saying that Fu Xi's qin had 20 strings; neither the comment nor the footnote mentions the word li. It also does not give the source of that information, nor is a source given for the statement in Chunzhu Jiwen that the 離 li had 二十七絃 27 strings.
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5. 太昊 Tai Hao
The original Chinese text of Qinshi Lu, as copied in Qinshu Daquan, Folio 16 is as follows:

伏羲氏見鳳集於桐,乃作琴象鳳首尾翅足立高三尺乃長三尺增六寸六分乃法六律六合之會象周天之數應吾行之用。取桐為身,製神蠒為絃,作靈雲操感天地應祥神龍,並降後作琴者則而象之。

The data is somewhat different from what is in Qinshi Bu but the story itself is rather similar.
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6. Other stories of Fu Xi making a qin
The following, which tells the story mentioned here, can be found verbatim on a number of websites. Clearly it is a modern retelling, and I have not been able to figure out the source.

伏羲伐桐創瑤琴

在久遠的上古時代,有個極樂世界華胥氏國。在這片極樂國土上有位美麗的姑娘叫華胥氏,她性格開朗,生性快樂。

一天,華胥氏在天空中裊裊娜娜地行走著,來到了東方一個叫作「雷澤」的大沼澤地玩耍。這裡的風景十分秀麗,把她迷住了。

華胥氏樂而忘返。她玩著玩著,忽然看見沼澤邊有一隻碩大無比的腳印,十分好奇,便抬腳在這個巨大的足印上踩了踩。不料這一踩,她身子馬上產生了一股特別奇怪的反應。回到家裡,她就生下一個兒子,取名「伏羲」。伏羲生著人的頭、龍的身子,落地就跑,見風就長,一眨眼長成了高大無比的巨人。

有一天,伏羲問母親:「我的父親是誰?」

華胥氏先搖了搖頭,說:「不知道。」後來便把雷澤邊的奇遇講給了兒子聽。」

伏羲聽罷,想了想,道:「照這樣看,我父親是雷神爺了?」

華胥氏遲疑地說:「也許是吧。」

於是,伏羲帶上乾糧,找父親去了。他走了很多路,也找不到能上天的地方。但他並不灰心,繼續尋找著。不知走了多長時間,他來到了都廣之野。

都廣之野是地上的樂園,十分富庶美麗。生長在這裡的米麥顆粒飽滿,做出的飯十分香甜。不僅如此,這裡的景色也十分迷人,飛鳥在這裡歌唱,走獸在這裡甥舞蹈,四季鮮花盛開,香氣都能傳到天宮裡去。忽然有一天,伏羲在這裡發現了名叫建木的奇樹,一下子驚呆了。只見那樹高大筆直,一直插入雲端,中午太陽照在樹上竟然沒有影子。他站在樹下放聲大喊,四周也沒有一點回音。他激動地想,看來這裡是天地的中央,沿著這棵樹也許能爬到天上找到父親呢!想到這裡,他渾身是勁,順著建木來到開門,終於找到了雷神。

天門裡出來了很多神仙,祝賀伏羲和雷神父子相見。

伏羲驚喜若狂,對雷神說:「父親,你在這兒等著,我回去把母親背來!」他說著,又順著建木溜到了地上,飛快地跑回華胥氏國,背著母親順著建木爬上了天,來到了雷神跟前。

就這樣,伏羲在天地中央,借助建木這個天梯爬上爬下,給東方樂園帶來聖德,所以當了天帝,管理著東方大地。

伏羲時時察看人間,履行天帝的職責。他看到人們吃生食經常犯病,就取來自然火種,傳給地上的人們,改變了人們吃生食、喝腥血的飲食習慣。他看到人間的日常生活有很多事情需要記憶,在環顧了四面八方之後,經過冥思苦想畫出了八卦圖形,概括出天地萬物的各種情況。從此,人們便用伏羲發明的這種符號來記載發生在生活上和自己身邊的各種事情,加強對生活的記憶。

伏羲巡視到江河湖海邊,看到人們吃魚比較困難,便仿照蜘蛛結網的樣子,把繩子收起來,編織成一張又一張的魚網,教會人們去水裡捕魚,改善人們的生活。

伏羲給人們不斷造福。為了給人間的生活增添樂趣和歡樂,他總想創造出美妙的樂器。

一天,伏羲巡視到西山桐林,只見金、木、水、火、土五星之精,紛紛飄落在梧桐樹上。頓時,仙樂飄飄,香風習習。繼而又見瑞氣千條,霞光萬道。天空彩屏開處,祥雲托著兩只美麗的大鳥,翩翩降落在那棵梧桐樹上,其餘諸鳥紛紛飛集在各處樹上,朝著兩只美麗的大鳥齊鳴。伏羲見到如此奇異現象,忙召來輔佐他的木神句芒問究竟。

句芒笑著對伏羲道:「這兩只最大的鳥,就是鳳凰呀!」

伏羲驚異道:「原來就是鳳凰啊!」

兩人正說時,只聽見那兩只大鳥「即足即足」地叫起來了,旁邊的百鳥也都一齊叫了起來,仿佛朝拜一般。

句芒又指著說道:「這個叫起來聲音‘即即即’的是雄鳥,就是鳳。那個叫起來聲音‘足足足’的,是雌鳥,就是凰。它們有六像:它的頭像雞,它的頷很像燕,它的頸很像鴻,它的尾很像魚,它的身很像龜。天帝看看,像嗎?」「果然像。」句芒又道:「對鳳凰還有一說,頭圓像天,目明像日,背偃像月,翼舒像風,足方像地,尾五色俱全像緯,,這也叫做六像。」伏羲笑道:「據我看來,這個六像,有點勉強,恐怕因為鳳凰是個靈鳥,特地附會出來的,不如前那六個像准實。」句芒又道:「它還有五像:頭上的文彩,仿佛像德字,翼上的文彩,仿佛像順字,背上的文彩,仿佛像義字,腹上的文彩,仿佛像信字,胸前的文彩,仿佛像仁字。戴德,擁順,背義,抱信,履仁,所以說它是五德俱備的靈鳥。」伏羲道:「我聽說鳳凰為百鳥之王,所以百鳥都跟著它,這可信嗎?」句芒道:「這跟我們跟著天帝一般,十分可信。天帝今日親眼所見百鳥朝鳳凰,那是因為鳳凰是中央神鳥,所以它稱百鳥之王。」伏羲道:「我聽說鳳凰能通天祉、應地靈、律五音、覽九德。它非竹不食,非醴泉不飲,非梧桐不棲。而今,不僅五星之精下降,而且雲托鳳凰來朝,此樹必是桐林中的神品,堪為雅樂。」句芒道:「有其應者,必有其德,天帝所言極是!地上樹木林莽千萬種,只有梧桐樹才能招鳳凰。用此種神木作樂器,必歷千年而不衰。」伏羲聽木神這麼一說,大喜過望,於是,朝那棵桐樹拜道:「皇天降祉,施民以樂。」禮畢之後,他令人砍伐那棵桐樹而歸。伏羲仔細端詳著神樹,然後按三十三天之數,將梧桐截為三段。他用手叩上段,其音太清;叩下段,其音太濁;然後取中段叩之,其音清濁相濟。伏羲大喜,便將中段桐木浸在長流水中,經歷了八九七十二個晝夜後,卜得吉日良辰,請來妙手神工造樂器。神工不知怎樣下手,伏羲便吩咐按周天365度之數將桐木削成三尺六寸五分長,又按四時八節之數,定為後寬四寸,前闊八寸,然後按陰陽兩儀之數定下高度,外按金、木、水、火、土五行,內按宮、商、角、徵、羽五音安上五根弦。隨後又依百鳥朝鳳凰的情景編創了《駕辯》樂曲,供彈唱。每當人間慶賀豐收和節日的時候,人們便用伏羲提供的熟食,用他幫助編織的魚網,打撈出水裡的魚,烹調出美味佳餚,擺成豐盛的宴席。在宴席當中,大家還要彈奏伏羲發明的樂器,高唱他創造的樂曲,其樂融融,令天神們羡慕不已。

後來,王母娘娘在天宮瑤池宴請天神,為了歡娛,特調來伏羲創造的樂器當場演奏。天神們見這樂曲動聽,樂器奇特,便依來歷將它喚作琴,取當今鳳凰為百鳥之王象形之意。因又是第一次在天宮瑤池見到這新物件,便將伏羲所創的樂器稱為瑤琴。

從此,人間便有了古老的樂器——琴。由於它是東方天帝伏羲創造的,故而中國的琴藝舉世矚目,歷千年而不衰。

轉《中國琴壇故事》。
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7. Original text from Qin Shi Bu
The original text of the Tai Hao entry in Qin Shi Bu is as follows:

太昊,伏羲氏,風性。有聖德象。日月之明。故曰:太昊。教民佃、漁、畜牧,以贍民用。故曰:伏羲氏。斲桐為琴。琴長七尺二寸。繩絲為弦。弦二十有七。名之曰「離」。伏羲以木王者三與八木之數。故三其九為之弦。八其九以為其長。非苟然也。或曰:伏羲命下相柏皇以嬰䃌所貢梓斲為琴。一曰:丹維;二曰:祖牀;三曰:委文;四曰:衡華。其長三尺六寸六分。象三百六十六日也。廣六寸象六合也。上曰:池;池者水也。言其平。下曰:濱;濱者服也。前廣,後挾,象尊蚌卑也。面圓法天。底平象地。龍池八寸,通八風。鳳池四寸,象四時。五弦象五行,乃所以修身理性。反其天真也,而樂音自是興焉。
綱鑑,古琴疏,世本。
My translation of this is incomplete.
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