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Chapter Seven: Ming dynasty
Xu Jian, Introductory History of the Qin, p. 133-4 1

(A). 7. Skilled qin makers2

Ming emperors and princes often had qins made in large quantities, thus many skilled qin makers emerged. During the years of Jiajing, there was Feng Zhaoyang,3 who made qins for the prince of Heng4 and Tu Gui,5 who made qins for the prince of Yi.6 During the years of Chongzhen, there was Qin Zhang,7 responsible for overseeing the making of qins within the Office of the Imperial Household. Along with other craftsmen, they made qins by the hundreds and thousands. The prince of Lu8 had hundreds of Zhonghe qins made, many of which are still often seen today. At that time, there were also many qin-making experts among the people.

Zhang Jingxiu9 was originally from Lianchuan. His qin-making was called one of the masteries of the Wu region. (The book) Taoan Meng Yi called his skills unmatched in hundreds of years. Lu Taihui, a qin player from Changshu, asked him to try to make a qin out of 楷木 kaimu (4/1164: 黃連木 Chinese pistachio), which yielded even better results than tongmu (桐木 usually understood as paulownia). Yan Cheng's (article) Kaiqin Ji in Songxianguan Qinpu recorded this. Today there are still many of his qins in circulation.

Shi Yanzhao of Wuling was skilled in playing qin but especially good in making them. Tao Kai of Tiantai wrote a poem to praise him:

"There are hundreds and thousands of houses in the city of Wulin,
But Shi the qin maker truly merits praise.
There is nobody to match Mr. Shi;
(So now) when paulownia trees dry up and die they become firewood. (Xi Shen Ke Hua)".

Wu Shi of Xiuning, style name Quchen, was talented in poetry, calligraphy and painting. He was famous for the ink and lacquerware he created. Well-versed in qin theory, he wrote Corrected Tablature for Qiu Hong (Dingzheng Qiu Hong Pu). He once went into the mountains to select materials for qins. The qins he made are called "Quchen Qin" (Xiuningxian Zhi).

Yan Diaoyu (wrote Qin Shu) of Yuhang, style name Yinchi, studied qin from childhood and was skilled in repairing qins. Once, he was a guest at Wuxing and the host had a Lei family qin from the Tang dynasty. "Nationally-acclaimed craftsmen had attempted to mend it, but the gong and shang still were not correct." After he fixed it, however, one could play it at the same time as other qins and from ten steps away, one could hear only this qin. The host saw that he was so talented in reviving the qin and generously gave the qin to him as a gift (Chunhu Manlu).

(Return to Ming dynasty)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Basic translation by Jin Qiuyu.

2. Xu Jian, QSCB, pp. 131 - 132

3. Feng Zhaoyang 馮朝陽
Made a qin for Zhu Houqiao.

4. Prince of Heng 衡王

5. Tu Gui 涂桂; info from Qinshi Xu.

6. Prince of Yi 益王

7. Qin Zhang 琴張

8. Prince of Lu 潞王

9. Zhang Jingxiu 張敬修

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