Qinshu Daquan Folio 16
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Qinshu Daquan Folio 16 (V/346 - 373) 1
  Bamboo slips: earliest "records"? 2 
(This folio, with 66 entries that begin with quotes from four of the "Five Classics", sometimes considered China's most ancient extant writings,3 is a good starting point for tracing how the guqin ("ancient qin) achieved its high status in traditional Chinese society. Here two caveats to keep in mind are: in these documents very few instruments are actually mentioned by name, and of those mentioned, the actual form of many is not always clear, and by the Tang dynasty many were no longer played. 4

With regard to qin, the earliest references in particular usually mention qin and se together: "qin se". Now we know of the qin as a seven-string [by convention formerly five-string] zither with one fixed bridge, and the se as a 26 string zither with movable bridges. Because the translations cited here refer to qin and se in such a variety of ways, I generally change these back to the original "qin" and/or "se". But because so many of the earliest writings mention them exclusively as a pair, and to the exclusion of other instrument names, perhaps in some cases this should be "qin se", meaning simply "stringed instruments" or "zithers".)

  1. 尚書 Shang Shu: Venerated Documents (V/346)
    Also called 書經 Shu Jing (Book of Documents), it is the earliest compilation of historical documents, one of three documents said the date from Western Zhou (12th - 6th c. BCE). The other two are the 易經 Yi Jing, which does not mention the qin, and the Book of Songs (see #3 below). About half of the existing Shang Shu is said to be a forgery from about the 4th c. CE. I don't know if this short excerpt is from that part. The first English translation of Shang Shu was James Legge, The Chinese Classics, Vol.III. The Shoo King (bi-lingual; SMC Taipei reprint). The passage below (ibid., p.87) is followed (ibid., p.88) by the passage (later used as a
    qin melody title), "When the nine parts of the service according to the emperor's arrangements have all been performed the male and female phoenix come with their measured gambollings into the court." (簫韶九成,鳳凰來儀 Xiaoshao Jiucheng, Fenghuang Lai Yi).

      (夔曰﹕戛擊鳴球)傅拊琴瑟,以詠,祖考來格。 (益稷 Yi Ji)
      (Kui said, When the sounding-stone is tapped or strongly struck); when the qin and se are swept or gently touched; to accompany the singing, the imperial progenitors come to the service.
      (Legge, The Chinese Classics, Vol.III. The Shoo King [bi-lingual], p.87.)

  2. 尚書大傳 Shang Shu Da Zhuan: Major Tradition of the Venerated Documents (V/346)
    7654.71 a book existing only in fragments; compiled by 伏勝 (or 伏生) Fu Sheng (former Han).
    It is quoted in
    YFSJ. Here, one short reference (but here is another):

      Great qin with plain (uncolored) strings.

  3. 毛詩 Mao edition of the Book of Songs (詩經 Shi Jing; V/346)
    (This entry quotes each mention of the qin in the Shi Jing; all quotes but the last also mention the se [see qin se]. In addition, many poems from the Shi Jing have been arranged with qin melodies. There is some further mention of this here)  

    (Note that in contrast the Shi Jing mentions the se separately from qin in five poems, with the word having a non-musical meaning in two [trans. Waley]:

    •   55. 國風,衛風,淇奧:"瑟兮僩兮 Oh the grace, the elegance!"
    • 115. 國風,唐風,山有樞:"何不日鼓瑟 Why do you not daily play your zither?"
    • 126. 國風,秦風,車鄰:"並坐鼓瑟 He sits opposite me, playing his zither."
    • 161. 小雅,鹿鳴:"鼓瑟吹笙 ....(鼓瑟鼓琴) Let me play my zither, blow my reed organ."
    • 239. 大雅,旱麓:"瑟彼玉瓚 Fair is the jade handled spoon"
      239. 大雅,旱麓:"瑟彼柞棫 So thick grow those oaks"

    Meanwhile, the other great pre-Han collection of poems, the Chu Ci, mentions the qin only once; it mentions se seven times [search CTP]).

  4. 禮記 Li Ji: Book of Rites (compare related titles;5 V/346)
    At front, three sub-headings, 既祥彈琴, 除喪彈琴 and 五絃南風; the actual selections are as follows (references are to online original text and Legge translation, here edited):

    • 曲禮 Qu Li (Summary of the Rules of Propriety, or Minute Rules of Decorum): three quotes, all qin se)
      1. (31) 先生書策琴瑟在前坐而遷之戒勿越。
        If any writing or tablets of his master, or his qin or se be in the way, he should kneel down and remove them,
      2. (55) 父母有疾,冠者不櫛,行不翔,言不惰,琴瑟不御。
        When his father or mother is ill, (a young man) who has been capped should not use his comb, nor walk with his elbows stuck out, nor speak on idle topics, nor take his qin or se in hand.
      3. (94)(君無故,玉不去身;大夫無故不徹縣,)士無故不徹琴瑟 (also written: 士無故不撤琴瑟)
        (Without some [sad] cause, a ruler will not let the gems [pendent from his girdle] leave his person, nor a Great officer remove his music-stand); and a gentleman (lower official?) will not part from his qin or se.
    • 檀弓 Tan Gong (three passages, two have Confucius play qin without making sounds)
      1. (24) 孔子既祥,五日彈琴而不成聲,(十日而成笙歌)。
        Confucius, after the service at the close of the one year's mourning, in five days more (began to) handle his qin, but brought no perfect sounds from it; in ten days he played on the sheng (mouth organ) and sang to it.
      2. (41) 顏淵之喪,饋祥肉,孔子出(而)受之,入,彈琴而後食之。
        At the mourning rites for Yan Yuan, some of the flesh of the sacrifice at the end of (? two) years was sent to Confucius, who went out and received it, On re-entering he played on his qin, and afterwards ate it.
      3. (52) 子夏既除喪而見,予之琴,和之不和,彈之而不成聲。作而曰:“哀未忘也。先王制禮,而弗敢過也。”子張既除喪而見,予之琴,和之而和,彈之而成聲,作而曰﹕“先王制禮不敢不至焉。”
        When Zixia was introduced (to the Master) after he had put off the mourning (for his parents), a was given to him. He tried to tune it, but could hardly do so; he touched it, but brought no melody from it. He rose up and said, 'I have not yet forgotten my grief. The ancient kings framed the rules of ceremony, and I dare not go beyond them?' When a qin was given to Zizhang in the same circumstances, he tried to tune it, and easily did so; he touched it, and brought melody from it. He rose up and said, 'The ancient kings framed the rules of ceremony, and I do not dare not to come up to them.'
    • 禮運 Li Yun (Evolution of Rites)
      • (5) 陳其犧牲,備其鼎俎,列其琴瑟(qin se)管磬鐘鼓,修其祝嘏,以降上神(與其先祖)。
        The victims (also) are displayed, and the tripods and stands are prepared. The qins and ses are put in their places, with the flutes, sonorous stones, bells, and drums. The prayers (of the principal in the sacrifice to the spirits) and the benedictions (of the representatives of the departed) are carefully framed. The object of all the ceremonies is to bring down the spirits from above, (even their ancestors).
        (Compare 「陳其犧牲,備其鼎俎,列其琴瑟,管磬鐘鼓,以降其上神。」 in Kongzi Jiayu [Wen Li Chapter]).
    • 明堂(位) Ming Tang (Wei)
      • (18)(土鼓蕢桴葦龠,伊耆氏之樂也。)拊搏玉磬揩擊,大琴大瑟,中琴小瑟,四代之樂器也。
        (They had the earthen drum, with clods for the drumstick and the reed pipe, producing the music of Yizhi); the pillow-like bundles of chaff, which were struck; the sounding stone of jade; the instruments rubbed or struck, (to regulate the commencement and close of the music); the great qin and great se; the medium qin and little ses: the musical instruments of the four dynasties. (Not clear why Legge pluralized the last "se".)
    • 少儀 Shao Yi
      • (8) 笏、書、修、苞苴、弓、茵、席、枕、几、穎、杖、琴、瑟、戈有刃者櫝、策、龠,其執之皆尚左手。
        Official tablets; writings; stalks of dried flesh; parcels wrapped in reeds; bows; cushions; mats; pillows; stools; spikes; staffs; zithers, large and small (qin, se); sharp-edged lances in sheaths; divining stalks; and flutes - these all were borne with the left hand upwards.
    • 學記 Xue Ji Records of Education
      • (8) 不學操縵不能安絃。
        If a student do not learn (at college) to play in tune (caoman: "adjust the strings"), he cannot quietly enjoy his qin ("determine how to play the strings").
    • 樂記 Yue Ji (Records of Music; see online text)
      1. (4) 宮為君,商為臣,角為民,徵為事,羽為物。五者不亂,則無怗懘之音矣。 6
        (The note) gong represents the ruler; shang, the ministers; jue, the people; zhi, affairs; and yu, things. If there be no disorder or irregularity in these five notes, there will be no want of harmony in the state.
      2. (21) 昔者,舜作五弦之琴以歌南風,夔始制樂以賞諸侯....
        (My translation:) Formerly Shun made a five-string qin so he could sing Nan Feng Ge. Kui first made music to reward the feudal lords....
        (Then he expressed himself in chant,) refining the sounds with those of the qin and se
      3. (42) 絲聲哀,哀以立廉,廉以立志。君子聽琴瑟之聲則思志義之臣。
        (My translation:) Sounds of silk are doleful, leading to purity and hence loyalty. When a leader hears the sounds of qin and se he thinks of assistants determined to be righteous.
    • (喪)大記 (Sang) Da Ji (Great Records)
      • (1)(疾病,外內皆掃。)君大夫徹縣,士去琴瑟。
        (When the illness was extreme, all about the establishment was swept clean, inside and out.) In the case of a ruler or Great officer, the stands, with the martial instruments suspended from them, were removed; gentlemen (lower ranking officials?) put aside their qin and se.

  5. 周禮 Zhou Li: Rites of Zhou (V/346-7)
    Zhou Li outlines the supposed structure of the state of Zhou
    (until 劉歆 Liu Xin, 46 BCE - 23 CE, Zhou Li was called 周官 Zhou Guan)

    (See 天官冢宰 Tianguan zhonggong; bracketed text added from 102)....孤竹之管,云和之琴瑟,(《云門》之舞;)冬日至,於地上之圜丘奏之,(若樂六變,則天神皆降,可得而禮矣。凡樂,函鐘為宮,大蔟為角,姑洗為徵,南呂為羽,靈鼓靈鼗,)孫竹之管,空桑之琴瑟,(《咸池》之舞;)夏日至,於澤中之方丘奏之,(若樂八變,則地示皆出,可得而禮矣。凡樂,黃鐘為宮,大呂為角,大蔟為徵,應鐘為羽,路鼓路鼗,)陰竹之管,龍門之琴瑟,《九德》之歌,《九韶》之舞;於宗廟之中奏之,

  6. 左傳 Zuo Zhuan Zuo's Commentary (on the Spring and Autumn Annals; V/347)
    Attrib. 左丘明 Zuo Qiuming aka Zuoqiu Ming, 5th c. BCE;
    Seven selections; translation: Legge, The Chinese Classics, Vol. V. The Chun Ts'ew with the Tso Chuen).

  7. 國語 Guo Yu: Discourses of the States (V/347-9)
    Attrib. 左丘明 Zuo Qiuming or Zuoqiu Ming (see #6 above; perhaps it was connected to the Zuo Zhuan); compiled later Wei Zhao, 204 -273?).

    琴瑟尚宮 (qin se shang guan)
    史記 (stories from the Shi Ji)
        師㳙新生   師曠鶴舞   孔子學琴
        夢女鼓琴   鄒忌善音   趙姊能琴

    These six stories are told again in the next entry.

  8. 史記 Shi Ji: Records of the Grand Historian7 (V/347-9)
    Six more selections excerpted from the following annals in this earliest history of China (ZHSJ = Zhonghua Shuju edition)

    • Annal 24   樂書 Book of Music (ZHSJ p.1235); translated with Nan Xun Ge and by Van Gulik (see Shi Kuang)
    • Annal 47   孔子世家 Hereditary House of Confucius; translated with the biography of his teacher, Shi Xiangzi
    • Annal 43   趙世家 Hereditary House of Zhao; translated with the biography of Meng Yao
    • Annal 37   衛世家 Hereditary House of Wei; see biography of Shi Cao
    • Annal 32   齊世家 Hereditary House of Qi; see biography of Zou Jizi
    • Annal 103 萬石君傳 Biography of Lord Wanshi: the sister of 石奮 Shi Fen played the qin (RGH I/477)

  9. 十二國史 Shi'er Guo Shi: Histories of the 12 States (V/349)
    2741.99: 12 states of the Warring States period (nothing about a book). Five selections:

  10. 吳越春秋 Wu Yue Chunqiu: Annals of Wu and Yue (V/350)
    Compare the text here with that of the chapter on 勾踐伐吳外傳
    Gou Jian Attacks Wu, the 21st Year of Goujian #32, in the Chinese Text Project8. The passage, which concerns events after Yue had defeated Wu, begins,


  11. 西漢書 History of the Western Han (V/350)

  12. 十六國春秋 Annals of the 16 Kingdoms (V/350)
    2741.250 Book in 100 folios originally by 魏崔鴻 Cui Hong (d. 525; Bio/2164)

  13. 家語 Jiayu (孔子家語 Household Tales of Confucius; details at www.chinaknowledge.org; V/350-1)
    Compiled by 王肅 Wang Su (195 - 256); 14 selections from 10 books

    • Evolution of Rites(問禮篇)
    • And 靈公 Ling Gong, "琴瑟不御" (賢君)
    • Confucius and Zixia(六本篇)
    • Concerns Zengzi(六本篇)
    • Zilu plays qin(困誓)
    • Again Zilu 並(困誓)
    • Playing an unadorned qin, "鼓素琴" (本命解)
    • Confucius studies qin from Shi Xiangzi (辯樂解)
    • Qin Lao 琴牢, name of a man from 衛 Wei (七十二弟子解)
    • 孫林父 Sun Linfu, here called 文子 Wenzi, never again listens to qin or se (正論解)
    • Qin Zhang 琴張, name of a student of Confucius (子貢問)
    • Confucius 五日而彈琴不成聲,十日過禫,而成笙歌。 (公西赤問)
    • 琴瑟張而不平 (公西赤問)
    • After 顏淵 Yan Yuan dies, Confucius 彈琴以散情 plays qin to calm down before eating (公西赤問)

  14. 孟子 Mengzi (Mencius,9 V/351)
    Two selections

    • From 萬章上 Wan Zhang, A: Shun plays the qin after his parents try to incinerate him.
    • From 盡心下 Jin Xin, B: Shun plays qin while the two daughters of Yao attend to him.

  15. 列子 Liezi (V/351-2)
    Four selections

    • Rong Qiqi plays qin and speaks of his simple pleasures.
    • Yan Hui plays the qin to cheer up Confucius
    • When Hu Ba plays the qin birds dance and fish frolic, so Shi Wen goes to study qin with Shi Xiang
    • Bo Ya plays the qin and Ziqi listens

  16. 文子 Wenzi (V/352)
    13766.8/2 Book in two folios said to date from time of Confucius

  17. 莊子 Zhuangzi (V/352-3)
    Six selections

    • Chapter   2 齊物論: 昭文 Zhao Wen11 plays the qin (while? 師曠之枝策 Shi Kuang kept the beat)
    • Chapter   6 大宗師: playing the qin at the funeral of 子喪戶 Sang Hu
    • Chapter   6 大宗師: Ziyu, hearing Zisang play qin, knows he is in distress
    • Chapter 28 讓王: Yan Hui tells Confucius that, although he is poor, he doesn't seek office as he is happy with simple things; besides, 鼓琴足以自娛 playing qin is all he needs to stay happy
    • Chapter 28 讓王: Though in Chen without food, Confucius continues to play qin calmly
    • Chapter 31 漁父: Confucius, while playing qin and singing at the Xing Tan is confronted by a fisherman

  18. 呂氏春秋 Lüshi Chunqiu (V/354)
    Translated in Knoblock and Riegel, The Annals of Lü Buwei, pp.134 and 146. The Qinshu Daquan entry begins, "仲夏紀昔古朱襄氏...."; in other words, although it says it is quoting 仲夏紀 Zhongxia Ji (5/1.2: Almanac for the Second Month of Summer), it actually quotes 古樂 Gu Yue (5/5.2: Music of the Ancients). Information on both entries is as follows:

    • 仲夏紀 (5/1.2: "In this month [the emperor]....均琴瑟管簫 adjusts qin and se zithers as well as the wind instruments guan and xiao"); not actually quoted here
    • 古樂 (5/5.2: "In the past, when the Zhuxiang clan ruled the world, there was an excess of wind that caused the Yang ether to gather and accumulate, the myriad things to disperse and scatter, and the frusts and nuts not to ripen. Knight Da therefore invented a 5-string zither with which to attract the Yin ether and arrange the survival of the various living things." The Qinshu Daquan entry comments that 士達 Knight Da was 炎帝 Yan Di, but 5760.182 士達 mentions only several later people. Also, its zither is a 五絃琴 5-string qin, whereas in the passage in Knoblock it was 五絃瑟 5-string se.

  19. 桓譚,新論 Huan Tan, Xin Lun (New Discourses; V/354)
    See also #35: both are subtitled 雍門鼓琴 Yongmen plays qin, but Yongmen himself is mentioned only in #35)

      After saying Shen Nong created a five string qin it includes a variety of early ideas about the qin

  20. 世本 Shi Ben: Basics of Hereditary Lines (V/354)
    Liu Xiang (? see also #33 and #34 below); mostly lost (see also YFSJ).

      Shen Nong made a qin. It is also said the qin was 7 ft. 2 in. long.

  21. 帝王世紀 Di Wang Shiji: Record of the Lives of Emperors and Kings (V/354)
    9064.17 A book in one folio compiled by 皇甫謐 Huangfu Mi (215 - 282), apparently from earlier sources

      Shen Nong (Yan Di) made a five string qin....

  22. 琴始錄 Qin Shi Lu: Record of the Beginnings of the Qin (V/354)

      Fu Xi saw phoenixes gathering under a tong tree and so made a qin in that shape....(the original text is under Fu Xi

  23. 燕丹子 Yan Danzi (V/354-5)
    19876.31 Book by unknown author in three folios; concerns Dan (see Giles), Crown Prince of Yan (d.226 BCE)

      Jing Ke tries to assassinate the king of Qin, who is saved after he 乞 begs to hear qin one last time.

  24. 韓非子 Hanfeizi (V/355-6)
    Han Fei: c. 280 - 233 BCE; five selections

    • Fu Zijian plays qin and Shanfu remains orderly
    • Qin masters 田連 Tian Lian (7/1276) and 成竅 Cheng Qiao
    • Another Duke Ping and Shi Kuang story
    • Shi Kuang plays the qin and laughs
    • King Zhao of Qin has a discussion and Zhong Ziqi has his qin (?)

  25. 楊子 Yangzi (V/356)
    Yangzi is Yang Zhu (15489.184 楊朱, style name 子居 Ziju; also a chapter of 列子 Liezi). NFI. Two short selections.

    • Qin, se and 簫韶 Xiaoshao music
    • Qin and se

  26. 荀子 Xunzi 12 (V/356)
    Seven selections from five books; translated by John Knoblock.

    • 1.7:     Hu Ba on se and Bo Ya on qin
    • 5.13:   Hearing good doctrines is better than hearing qin or se
    • 10.5:   Music such as that of qin and se help establish distinctions and harmony
    • 10.12: Fill ears with sounds such as qin and se so people behave properly
    • 19.2:   Music from instruments such as qin and se nurture the ear
    • 19.16: Don't tune qin and se at a funeral
    • 20.9: "The gentleman uses bell and drum to guide the inner mind and qin and se zithers to gladden the heart."

  27. 孔叢子 Kong Congzi (V/356)
    7077.331 Falsely attributed to 孔鮒 Kong Fu (ca. 264 - 208), an eighth generation descendant of Confucius
    Actual date uncertain; two passages

  28. 劉子 Liuzi (V/356-7)
    2270.29 A book also called 新論 Xin Lun, 10 folios, author unknown; three selections

  29. 淮南子 Huainanzi (V/357)
    A book of 21 essays written at the court of
    Liu An; nine selections from six chapters

    • 2. Qin and se
    • 9. Rong Qiqi plays the qin for Confucius. Comment on qin and se
    • 11. Commentary on the story of Shi Kuang and Duke Ping
    • 13? Qin and se
    • 19. This passage, sometimes used as evidence that Zhou dynasty qins had studs (hui, q.v.).
    • 19. Play qin and read books.
    • 19. Bo Ya and Ziqi, etc.
    • 20. Shen Nong makes a qin
      神農之初作琴也,以歸神及其淫也(should be 以歸神杜淫?),反其天心。
      Shen Nong first made a qin so people could restore their divine nature and restrain their low passions.
    • 21. Five tones are only gong shang jiao zhi yu; five string qin cannot play them....(?)

  30. 文中子 Wen Zhongzi (V/357-8)
    Wen Zhongzi is
    Wang Tong (583 - 616); two selections

  31. 韓詩外傳 Han Shi Waizhuan (V/358-9)
    Illustrations of the Didactic Application of the Classic of Songs, by 韓嬰 Han Ying (2nd c. BCE)
    44126.297: a book in 10 folios by one of the earliest commentators on the Shi Jing
    ICTCL, p.312: a guide to quoting from the Shi Jing; 13 selections

  32. 越俗外傳 Yue Su Waizhuan (V/360)
    37946.71 Yuesu: customs of Yue; no book mentioned (compare 越絕書外傳 Yue Jue Shu Waizhuan

  33. 劉向,新序 Xin Xu: New Arrangement (V/360-1)
    Compiled by
    Liu Xiang (see also #20 above and #21 below); a "newly arranged Shuo Yuan" (Knechtges)

      A discussion between King Wei of Chu and Song Yu

  34. 劉向,說苑 Shuo Yuan: Extracted Discussions (V/361)
    Compiled by
    Liu Xiang (see #33 and #20 above); moral tales and political admonitions

    • If the first string is too tight the seventh will break
    • The story of Jia Wuzi and Ying Hou
    • Bo Ya and Ziqi
    • Confucius hears someone wailing in the morning, so when he plays his qin it is sad; concerns Yan Hui

  35. 桓譚,新論 Huan Tan, Xin Lun (New Discourses; V/361)
    #19 above also quotes Huan Tan, with Yongmen plays qin as subtitle, but it does not actually mention Yongmen

      Subtitled 雍門鼓琴 Yongmen plays qin; has long story about Yongmen Zhou

  36. 崔寔,政論 Cui Shi, Zheng Lun (V/362)
    Cui Shi (d. ca. 179 CE; 8405.168)

      The Yellow Emperor sits in the Hall for Learning Truth, plays a 清角 qin, and phoenixes hide the sun

  37. 姚信,士緯論(士緯新書?)Yao Xin, Shi Wei Lun (Shiwei Xinshu?13) (V/362)
    Yao Xin (3rd C), A Gentleman's Appendix to the Classics (New Commentary? See below)

      Qin and se are tuned, and thus is made (music of) Zheng and Wei;
      The five colors come forth, so fine silk garments are produced.

  38. 董仲舒,(舉賢良對)策 Dong Zhongshu, Ce (V/362)
    Dong Zhongshu (c.179 - c.104; ICTCL: famed Confucian interpreter of classics [and of omens]);
    Examining Matters with the Noble and Good (26567.xxx)

      琴瑟不調甚者必解而更長之乃可鼓也.... (Compares tuning qin se with ruling properly)

  39. 瑞應圖 Ruiying Tu (V/362)
    Sketches for Responding to Omens (? 21606.120xxx)

      Shi Kuang played qin for the gods and white snow-geese soared

  40. 符瑞圖 Furui Tu (V/362)
    Sketches for Auspicious Influences (? 26541.65xxx)

      Shi Kuang and 元鶴 yuan he (great cranes? 1356.xxx; = 玄鶴 black cranes?)

  41. 蔡邕,月令章句 Cai Yong, Yueling Zhangju (V/362)
    Stanzas about Lunar Phenology

      Compares flute tuning with qin se tuning

  42. 蔡邕,女訓 Cai Yong, Nü Xun (V/362)
    Admonishments for Ladies (compare with Ban Zhao's Nü Jie)

      舅姑鼓琴 If your husband's parents tell you to play the qin, sit correctly....

  43. 顏氏家訓 Yanshi Jiaxun (V/362)
    Household Instructions to the Yan Clan, by Yan Zhitui. Brackets below show the version from
    顏之推 Yan Zhitui (531 - 593; 44545.6 字介; ICTCL p.923; mentioned 坐隱 in connection with 棋 chess)

      A gentleman must certainly understand qin and se....

  44. 李肇,國史補 Li Zhao, Guoshi Bu (V/362)
    Li Zhao (Tang dynasty; Bio/938), Supplement to the History (of the Tang dynasty)

    • Li Mian, Duke of Qian, looks for qins
    • 張相洪靖少時夜會名客觀鄭宥調二琴.... (? Mentions Dong Tinglan)
    • Yu Di has his sister-in-law listen to qin

  45. 周益公文集 Zhou Yigong, Wenji (V/362)
    Collected Writings of Zhou Yigong (? Bio.xxx; 3597.xxx; 23498.xxx)

  46. 魏文帝與吳質書 Wei Wendi yu Wu Zhi Shu (V/362-3)
    A Letter from Wei Emperor Wendi (曹丕
    Cao Pi, 188 - 227) to Wu Zhi (177 - 230; Bio/1034)

    • Playing qin was part of a pleasurable meeting

  47. 秦嘉與妻書 Qin Jia yu Qi Shu (V/363)
    A Letter from Qin Jia (2nd c. CE; Bio/1829) to his wife 徐淑 Xu Shu

    • Playing qin and thinking of her (?)

  48. 嵇康,絕交書 Xi Kang, Jue Jiao Shu (V/363)
    Xi Kang,
    A letter breaking off relations (with Shan Tao)

      An extract that mentions 抱琴行吟 carrying a qin and intoning while walking

  49. 杜之松,荅王績書 Du Zhisong, Da Wang Ji Shu (V/363)
    Du Zhisong (Sui/Tang official; Bio/830) responds to a letter from
    Wang Ji

      Mentions qin together with wine

  50. 王維,文集 Wang Wei, Wenji (V/363)
    Collected Writings of
    Wang Wei


  51. 範文正公與唐異處士書 Fan Wenzhenggong yu Tang Yi Chushi Shu (V/363-4)
    Letter from
    Fan Zhongyan to Tang Yi

      仲淹謹再拜致書于處士唐君...(see translation); includes comments on Cui Zundu's Qin Jian, quoted in QSCB, Chapter 6c3.

  52. 竹樓記 Zhulou Ji (V/364)
    Bamboo Pavilion Essay (26424.333) is also called 黃岡竹樓記 Huanggang Zhulou Ji; Huanggang, also called 黃州 Huangzhou, is a city in what is now eastern Hubei province. This poetic essay was written by 王禹偁 Wang Yucheng (954 - 1001;
    Wiki), style name 元之 Yuanzhi. Wang was a noted poet and prose writer who built himself a Bamboo Pavilion in Huangzhou. The essay, for convenience arranged here in separate lines, has the phrase "宜鼓琴,琴調虛暢 an appropriate place to play the qin, with the qin melody gently rising and falling" (8/829 悠揚).

    There currently are several translations of this essay online, for example here (translating qin as "lyre") and here.

  53. 東坡文集 Dongpo Wenji (V/364-5)
    Collected Writings of
    (Su) Dongpo (1037 - 1101); seven selections (complete text)

    • Concerns Tang dynasty qin player 張華 Zhang Hua of Hangzhou (not the writer Zhang Hua)
    • The qin player 阮千里 Ruan Qianli (i.e., Ruan Ji's grand-nephew 阮瞻 Ruan Zhan)
    • 蛇蚹文 Snake-scale cracks on a qin (compare 蛇腹紋 under 斷紋)
    • About 荅沈疏書 A Letter Responding to Shen Shu (? Bio/xxx)
    • Duke Yi of Wei 衛懿公 (ca. 660 BCE; Bio/51) and his love of cranes
    • An old qin in the home and a visit in 1081 from 陳季常 Chen Jichang (陳慥 Chen Zao; Bio/1353; Giles)
    • Criticizing 劉伯倫 Liu Bolun (劉伶 Liu Ling and Tao Yuanming (for his stringless qin)

  54. 黃裳文集 Huang Chang, Wenji (V/365-6)
    or Huang Shang? (Bio/2073 has four, two in Song dynasty; most likely is 1044 - 1130, style name 勉仲 Mianzhong)

    • Corresponding with 張得一道士 the Daoist Zhang Deyi (?) about playing qin

  55. 廣樂記 Guang Le Ji (V/366)
    Record of Broad Pleasures (? 9693.308 only 廣樂: great happiness; city name; compare
    景祐廣樂記); four selections:

    See also Qiu Xiao Bu Yue.

  56. 晉阮籍樂論 Jin Ruan Ji Yue Lun (V/366)
    Music Discourse of the Jin dynasty's
    Ruan Ji

      Ji Liuzi faced the wind and played qin....

  57. 補亡,樂書 Buwang, Yue Shu (V/366-7)
    35113.1 Buwang is a nickname for 宋柳開 Liu Kai (947 - 1000; Bio/1708); two sections

  58. 陳伯葵琴說 Chen Bokui, Qin Shuo (V/367-8)
    Chen Bokui (Bio/xxx; 538.363xxx); Qin Discussions (none by a Chen)

      Long article

  59. 山陰野夫琴議 Shanyin Yefu Qin Yi (V/368-9)
    8043.499 - .501: place name, 王子猷 Wang Ziyu story; 41030.28? QSCM #75?; two selections

    • Begins: 琴者禁也 Qin means restraint
    • 夫和而鳴者謂之聲.... (long article)

  60. 吳僧文瑩,湘山野錄 Wu Monk Wen Ying, Xiangshan Yelu (V/369-70)
        Subtitle: 賀若十調
    Heruo (Bi) 10 melodies; 雷朴永泉 Lei Pu Yongquan
    Xiangshan Yelu is by the Song dynasty monk Wen Ying; three selections:

    • Song Taizong makes a nine-string qin; discussion of 10 melodies of 賀若弼 Heruo Bi (also in QSCB)
    • Again Taizong; Wen Ying himself also mentioned
    • An expanded (at the beginning) version of the Qinshi Bu essay on Zheng Wenbao

  61. 避署錄 Bi Shu Lu (V/370)
    Should be 40034.42 避暑錄話 Bi Shu Luhua, by 葉夢得
    Ye Mengde

  62. 東南記聞 Dongnanji Wen (V/370)
    14827.308, in three folios, by an unknown author; the original is lost


  63. 振古琴苑 Zhen Gu Qin Yuan (V/370-1)
    #145 in Qinshu Cunmu; see the preface in
    Folio 1, #15.

  64. 拔太古遺音 Epilogue to Taigu Yiyin (V/371)
    by 宋濂
    Song Lian. It says (punctuation tentative and incomplete),

    士大夫以琴鳴者,恒法宋楊守齋讚,所以法讚者,以合於晉嵇康氏故也,而其中不無可疑者。建樂立均貴乎和平。宫君而商臣。君尊而臣卑。有不可毫髪僣者。康當晉欲代魏之時。憂憤無所洩。所制廣陵散操。特慢商絃至與宫等其聲。「忿怒躁急,不可為訓」。「尚可以為法乎」。此其可疑一也。古者恊管以定正宮。以正宫為聲律之元也。今纉以中呂為宮。則似用旋宮之法。既曰旋宫則諸律何不能各為宫乎。其與獨彈黃鍾一均者。又何異竊意古人必隨月用律決不若今之膠。固不通此。其可疑二也。千載之下。正音寥寥失傳。安得知有虞孔子之遺音者。相與論斯事哉。今閲此書不覺為長嘅。 不可為訓,寧可為法乎?”

    This includes criticism of 楊守齋 Yang Zuan for praising Guangling San

  65. 道書 Dao Shu (V/371-2)
    39843.164 "Daoist books" does not mention specific types; 22 short comments

    1. 太素三元王祝曰﹕飛飄玉輪彈琴鳴鍾。(達洞真經)
    2. 玉童彈琴....(?)
    3. 被褐懷玉帶索鼓琴是謂真人。(太霄琅書)
    4. 琴心三疊....
    5. etc.

  66. 歷代琴書目 Lidai Qinshu Mu (V/372-3)
    "List of Historical Qin Books." There seem to be 45 entries, mostly one line mentioning an old handbook. However, some entries have multiple titles, some have brief explanations, and the last entry, 12 lines long, begins with the names of books run together ("蔡逸選阮譜一卷琴指圖一卷進琴式一卷....") instead of put on separate lines; there is also some commentary, particularly at the end. The section begins,

    1. Zhuge Liang (181 - 234) of Shu, Qin Classic, 1 Folio (QSCM, #15)
    2. Dai family, Qin Handbook, 4 Folios; handcopied tablature, 2 Folios
    3. ...

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Folio 16: Written Records (記載)
Further information is in the Preface. (V/...) refers to page numbers in Vol. V of Qinqu Jicheng.

2. Image: Bamboo slips: earliest "records"? (簡牘 jian du; Wiki)
Before the "Burning of books and burying of scholars" (焚書坑儒 Wiki) all books would have been written on bamboo or wooden slips. The other early written records that have survived, basically inscriptions on oracle bones (Wiki) and on bronzeware (Wiki), generally do not form narratives and so are usually categorized as archaeological records rather than historical records.

3. Most ancient: the "四書五經 Four Books and Five Classics" (Wiki)
This is only a preliminary attempt to connect the references on this page to to the earlist classicas. Note that the Four Books and Five Classics are all included amonst the Thirteen Classics (十三經 Wiki). The following list mentions whether there are references included on the present page.

(No references from 山海經 Shanhai Jing].

4. Earliest surviving instruments mentioned in written records

簫 27100 說文,爾雅,禮記
琴簫 xxx
21570.72 琴瑟
.81 琴箏 抱朴子
.54 琴筑

5. Record of Rites (禮記 Li Ji) and other books with "禮 Li" in the title
An online punctuated text with the Legge translation is included in Donald Sturgeon's Chinese Text Project.

Several other works with "Li" in the title that I have had trouble tracing include:

  1. 禮義 Li Yi or 禮義纂 Li Yi Zuan; see quote (堯使母句作琴五[絃]。)
    - 禮義 25404.165: 1. 禮與義 li and yi (ceremonial and righteousness; 2. 禮儀 (see next).
    - 禮儀 25404.213: 1. 謂禮之要目 principal items of rites; 2. 禮節威儀也 glorious ethical code and manners.
       No book with these titles, and I cannot trace the text. However there is an Yi Li (see next)
  2. 儀禮 Yi Li (As yet I have found no qin quotes or indications that the above is an alternate title for this; no 儀禮纂 Yi Li Zuan)
    1181.115 書名,儀禮於漢代已殘闕 a book already fragmentary in the Han dynasty;
    apparently 3 of its 4 books were incorported into the Li Ji. (義禮 29142.xxx)
  3. 禮少儀 Li Shao Yi; quoted under Deportment (儀式 Yi Shi) here in Folio 10 (V/205) and in TYDQJ Folio 4 (琴瑟埶之皆在左手埶....)
    7634.248 少儀 Shao yi says Tang official rank or 禮記篇名 name of a chapter in the Li Ji (see above), but there is no connection to the quote given there. Yi Shi simply means "(style of) deportment".
  4. 禮記,疏 Commentary (Shu) on Li Ji; see quote
    25404.103 禮記 Li Ji does not mention this commentary (shu) and I do not know how to date the information given by the above quote that the qin then had seven strings.

6. Significance of the notes
The full passage from 樂記 Yue Ji 3 is as follows (see online text)

There is an interaction between the words and airs (of the people) and the character of their government. (The note) gong represents the ruler; shang, the ministers; jiao, the people; zhi, affairs; and yu, things. If there be no disorder or irregularity in these five notes, there will be no want of harmony in the state. If gong be irregular, (the air) is wild and broken; the ruler of the state is haughty. If shang be irregular, (the air) is jerky; the offices of the state are decayed. If jiao be irregular, (the air) expresses anxiety; the people are dissatisfied. If zhi be irregular, (the air) expresses sorrow; affairs are strained. If yu be irregular, (the air) is expressive of impending ruin; the resources (of the state) are exhausted. If the five notes are all irregular, and injuriously interfere with one another, they indicate a state of insolent disorder; and the state where this is the case will at no distant day meet with extinction and ruin.

7. The Grand Scribe's Records (史記 Shi Ji)
This is the title used in Nienhauser et al; in the Burton Watson translation it is The Records of the Grand Historian. References here to the Chinese edition are from the 中華書局 (ZHSJ = Zhonghua Shuju) edition. It was written mostly by 司馬遷 Sima Qian (145 or 135 BCE - 86 BCE; Wiki). The story about what he needed to do to complete it is told under Li Ling Si Han.

8. Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yue (吳越春秋 Wu Yue Chunqiu)
Included in the Chinese Text Project, these annals are said to relate a fictionalized version of the struggle between Wu and Yue. According to 3453.559 it is a book in 10 folios(漢)趙曄撰 attributed to Zhao Ye of the Han dyansty then(元)徐天祜音注 annotated by Xu Tianhu of the Yuan. Apparently by the Yuan the original existed only in fragments; these were put together by Xu.

9. Mencius (孟子 Mengzi) (perhaps 372 – 289 BCE)
"Mencius" or "Mengzi" (Wiki) can refer either to the person (he was the most famous advocate of Confucius), or to the book attributed to him (online). The book mentions qin only in the two chapters mentioned above, 萬章上 Wan Zhang I and 盡心下 Jin Xin II. Mencius' biography is in Shi Ji 74 (Memoir 14).

11. 昭文之鼓琴 Zhao Wen playing the qin
Zhao Wen does not seem to be included in any of the lists of qin players ("Zhao" suggests he was from Chu; 14172.3 昭文 has Zhaowen only as the style name of 王徽 Wang Hui [d. 890; Bio/156]; this must be another person). Searching CTP for 昭文 turns up mostly phrases or references to other people such as 周昭文君 Lord Zhaowen of Zhou, with this passage in Zhuangzi being the only one that mentions qin.

Burton Watson translates the passage in Zhuangzi (昭文之鼓琴,師曠之枝策也,惠子之據梧) as follows, "Zhao Wen played the lute (sic); Music Master Kuang waved his baton (i.e., Shi Kuang kept the beat); Huizi leaned on his desk" (Legge explains, "giving his views"). In the margin Watson adds the comment,

"Zhao Wen was a famous lute (qin) player. But the best music he could play (i.e., complete) was only a pale and partial reflection of the ideal music, which was thereby injured and impaired, just as the unity of the Way was injured by the appearance of love - that is, man's likes and dislikes. Hence, when Mr. Zhao refrained from playing the lute, there was neither completion nor injury.....

This opinion of Zhao Wen seems to have been based on the commentary on Zhuangzi in 南華眞經註疏 Nan Hua Zhen Jing Zhu Shu by 成玄英 Cheng Xuanying (7th c. CE; also called 成元英 Cheng Yuanying; he also wrote commentary on Laozi; see en.daoinfo.org). Cheng's text (with my attempt at a literal translation) is as follows,

疏:姓昭,名文,古之善鼓琴者也。夫昭氏鼓琴,雖云巧妙,而鼓商則喪角,揮宮則失徵。未若置而不鼓, 則五音自全。亦猶有成有虧,存情所以乖道;無成無虧,忘智所以合真者也。
Comment: clan name Zhao, given name Wen, a great qin player of old. Now when Mr. Zhao played qin, although it was said to be artfully beautiful, when he played (the note) shang he failed (the note) jue, and when he was in command of the note gong he lost the note zhi. If thus he had not played, then the five tones would have had their natural perfection. Likewise, having completion and deficiency preserves emotions and leads to deviance from the Dao; not having completeness or deficiency (leads to) obliviousness concerning wisdom and thus a convergence with reality.

As yet the only other reference I have found to Zhao Wen playing (or not playing) qin is a Rhapsody on Zhao Wen Not Playing the Qin written in the late Tang dynasty by a certain Wu Mian.

Further regarding 惠子 Huizi (惠施 Hui Shi; Wiki), he was elsewhere criticized by Zhuangzi. As for the present passage Watson commented as follows:

The logicians Huizi and and Gongsun Long spent much time discussing the relationshp between attributes such as "hard" and "white" and the thing to which they pertain.

公孫龍 Gongsun Long was perhaps most famous for saying "白馬非馬 a white horse is not a horse". See, for example, his 白馬論 White Horse Discourse (CTP), and the Liezi Chapter 4, Confucius (CTP).

12. References in 荀子 Xunzi
References in Xunzi to guqin are mentioned above. A passage from Xunzi that does not specifically mention qin but that might be considered relevant to guqin learning is mentioned here.

13. Shi Wei (Xin Shu?)
Bio/1799 says Yao Xin, from Wu during the Three Kingdoms period, was an expert in commentary on the 周易 Zhou Yi, an edition of the Yi Jing, and that he wrote a 士緯新書 (5760.xxx; Shi Wei Xin Shu). I don't know why there is this confusion of titles.

The original quote credited to Shiwei Lun is:


If my translation is correct, the first line ("Qin and se are tuned, and thus is made [music of] Zheng and Wei") seems to be on the side of those suggesting that the music of Zheng and Wei were good (see further).

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