National Museum of Asian Art, Freer and Sackler Galleries  
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National Museum of Asian Art
Freer and Sackler Galleries, a part of the Smithsonian
弗利爾美術館 1
From the back of Kumu Longyin 2  

The Freer and Sackler Galleries have at least five lacquered qin zithers plus two more made of iron or bronze. As of 2022 these could all be seen online.3 They are, in apparent order of accession,

  1. Dragon's Moan         (Tang to Northern Song dynasty ["zither]: 枯木龍吟 Kumu Longyin). See at right and below.
  2. Melodious Phoenix  (Ming dynasty ["zither"]; 喈鳳 Jie Feng)
  3. No name                   (Ming dynasty bronze qin ["zither"])
  4. No name                   (Ming dynasty iron qin ["musical instrument (qin)"])
  5. No name                   (Song Dynasty ["seven-stringed lute! [qin]"; long inscription on back)
  6. Spring Breeze           (Ming dynasty ["Seven-stringed zither"])

    Regarding the other one the accession date is unclear (comment):

  7. No name                   (Ming dynasty ["zither"])

From 6 February to 1 October 2000 three qins from the collection were displayed in an exhibition called The Dragon's Moan, named after the qin of that name in their collection. And from 30 April to 17 September the Sackler Gallery exhibition Music in the Age of Confucius exhibited what might have been predecessors of the qin, but these were not from their permanent collection.

When I first visited the museum storage area, in 1997, I saw two of their lacquered wooden qins and the two iron qins. The wooden ones were Dragon's Moan and one called Jie Feng (Melodious Phoenix), which did not go on display in the exhibition, instead being replaced by a newly acquired Ming dynasty qin called Spring Breeze, said to be in playing condition. In 1997 the only one in playing condition was one of the two iron qins, but of course it had a very weak tone.

What prompted me to visit the museum at that time was that I had just produced my first CD using a borrowed Song dynasty qin, and was hoping a museum might let me use one of their antique qins to do my Shen Qi Mi Pu recordings.

I was particularly interested in Dragon's Moan, whose full title is Kumu Longyin, meaning "the Dragon moans from the dried wood". Several players in China (including Wang Shixiang, see below) had recommended it to me. Apparently several famous Chinese players and scholars who examined this qin in the 1940s spoke so highly of it that it now has a reputation as the best instrument in an American museum.

During my visit I saw in museum records that Zha Fuxi re-strung it in 1945 and Wang Shixiang himself re-strung it in 1948. They said it dates from either Tang or Song dynasty.

Unfortunately, in 1997 I found that the lacquer near the lower studs was so uneven that the instrument was no longer playable. At that time I was told the Museum had a policy of not repairing such instruments.

In 2002 I revisited the collection together with other members of the New York Qin Society, at which time I was told that either I was misinformed or the policy has changed, and that this one may soon be restored. The museum had also recently acquired another Ming dynasty instrument.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Freer and Sackler Galleries (弗利爾美術館)
Freer was the original museum and the common Chinese title uses only that name. The full title should be 弗利爾及賽克勒美術館 Fulier ji Saikele Meishuguan.

2. Inscription on the back of the Freer/Sackler's qin called Dragon's Moan (枯木龍吟 Kumu Longyin)
Image edited from a photo by Stephen Bourne, one of a set taken during tnhe 2002 visit by the New York Qin Society. The qin itself has what is called a "double layer soundboard".

3. Zither (qin)
Note that as of 2022 the "type" of five of these instruments was classificed as "zither qin", one is called only a "zither", another a "seven-stringed lute (qin)". Thus searching the site for either "qin" or "zither" will not find all of them.

Since this page was made the URLS have changed at least twice, but with the above information they were still pretty easy to find. At present, six of the URLS list accession numbers coded by have dates, but the last one listed above seems to use a different system, without a clear date. Perhaps this is connected to this statement with it, "Transfer from The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Law Enforcement".

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