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Chapter Seven: Ming dynasty
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, p. 132-3 1

(A). 6. Craftsmen who played qin 2

In cities and towns in which industry developed, there were craftsmen who played qin well. Even though in their societal environment, they were not considered important and history texts rarely recorded information of this kind, if one searches carefully, one can still find this type of information.

Xu the dye craftsman:3 He often chopped wood in Yushan, where he would encounter gatherings at which pepple played qin at the 昭明讀書台 Zhaoming Reading Platform and put down his load to sit and listen. Once, while listening, he could not help but laugh and interrupt, saying "the fifth string is not tuned correctly yet!" The player, displeased, asked, "Who are you? Do you know qin, too?" After checking, it turned out that the fifth string was not tuned correctly, so the crowd asked him to play as well. After he played, everybody was astonished at his excellent skills. Inquiry revealed that this person's family name was Xu and he was a dye craftsman. It is said that Yan Cheng of the Yushan school learned from him. Yan Cheng also named him "Xu Yixian" (Jieyue Shan Fang Hui Chao: Liunan Shuibi).

A certain carpenter:4 During the last year of Wanli, when the 監守 Collection Superindent of Yingzhou, Zhan Maoju, was playing the qin, he noticed that a carpenter standing outside the door seemed to have been discussing the melody he played. So he asked the carpenter what he was discussing and if he would play. The carpenter did not stand on ceremony and sat down to play the melody Zhan had just played. Zhan was astonished and asked the carpenter from whom he learned the melody, and the carpenter replied that it was from a seller of firewood. Zhan gave him money, but he did not accept all of it, saying, "I will only take what my work was worth". Afterward, Zhan Maoju often invited the carpenter over to teach him qin. The carpenter saw that Zhan's qins were all "of lower quality" and gave Zhan Maoju one of the good qins that his teacher had give him (Chibei Ou Tan).

The Hat Craftsman:5 There was a hat mender in Huanggang, Hubei. He often took his work load and traveled between Huanggang and Tuanfeng. Nobody knew where his home was; he brought with him simple living supplies, books, and qin, and lounged wherever he went. He boiled water and cooked for himself, occasionally reading and playing qin. It was not until somebody asked for his name that people knew it was He Baiyun (Huangzhou Fu Zhi).

(Continue: Qin Makers)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Basic translation: Jin Qiuyu

2. Xu Jian, QSCB, pp. 132 - 133

3. 徐染匠

4. 某木匠

5. 補帽匠

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