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Guqin History 1

Historical information on this site includes:

Title page of Qin Shi (Qin History)
by Zhu Changwen (1041-1098)
  1. Origins of the Qin; also Qins from Qin and Han to the Wei and Jin Periods
  2. Important modern sources here translated or partially translated
    1. Xu Jian, Qinshi Chubian (Introductory History of the Qin, 1982; see also Qinshi Xinbian, 2012).
      Organized by dynasty; included here are translations of most entries from: Nanbei, Sui/Tang, Song/Yuan and Ming dynasties.
    2. Zha Fuxi, ed., Cunjian Guqin Qupu Jilan (Guide to Existing Guqin Pieces in Tablature).
      Qin handbooks uncovered during the China-wide search of the early 1950s; it resulted from the guqin work of 1956 led by Zha Fuxi, and its follow up; includes most melody prefaces and lyrics (see index).
    3. Rao Zongyi, Song Ji Jin Yuan Qin Ji Kao Shu
      (Historical Account of the Qin from the close of the Song to the Jin and Yuan Dynasties)
      Extended essay especially relevant to Song dynasty qin music
  3. Important classical sources here translated or partially translated
    1. Qinshu Daquan (QSDQ; 1590)
      Translated selections include Records, Fables and more
    2. Biographies :
      Qin Shi (Song dynasty and earlier; translated by Luca Pisano)
      Qin Shi Bu (addendum to previous)
      Qin Shi Xu (Song dynasty and later)
      QSDQ (adds a few to the previous)
      Other (not included in the above but significant)
      20th century (focus on a few but there are many thumbnail sketches). These include further sketches in several places including:
          Sitong Shenpin players
          Other CDs featuring silk strings
      In general to find a particular name, it may be most convenient to use the search site function.
  4. Other
    1. Social History and the Guqin

Translations from classical sources are often tentative, incomplete or yet to be done.2

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Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. "History"
The word "history" has many usages. These include:

Generally, and especially in this section, the second usage is followed. Of course, different people will have different ideas of what is "known for certain". This is important to remember when trying to distinguish between "history of the qin" and legends about the origins of the qin, as here and as here

2. A note on the translations
Unlike with my Shen Qi Mi Pu and Zheyin Shizi Qinpu translations, most of the history-related translations into English have not been checked by experts. In addition, many entries are incomplete and mixed with summaries, paraphrases, and some added commentary. I began the translations with my classical Chinese teacher 方慕廉 Fang Mulian at the Mandarin Training Institute of Taiwan Normal University, 1974 - 76. She had studied classical Chinese at Peking University in the 1940s, and was very good at translating classical Chinese into modern Chinese, but she spoke no English.

In December 1976 I moved to Hong Kong in large part to work with 唐健垣 Tong Kin-woon because of his compendium called Qin Fu, an essential work for beginning my project of reconstructing old melodies. In 1978 he went to the U.S. for his Ph.D (see his dissertation, Shang Music Instruments); I continued with him in 1982, after he returned. His assistance with translation and all factors regarding guqin were essential to my work. Otherwise my main translation aid as I began (in addition to my Mathews Chinese-English Dictionary) was the Zhongwen Da Cidian (Murohashi).

Most of those translations were on file cards or as marginal notes I had made in books. In the summer of 2004 I decided to put the translations on my website, where the material might be more useful in spite of the obvious flaws. Since then I have improved many of the entries by consulting some dictionaries not available when I originally began the work, most notably the Hanyu Dacidian, Zhongguo Lidai Renming Dacidian (a biographical dictionary), the eight volume Zhongguo Ditu Lishi Ji (Historical Atlas of China), Hucker's Dictionary of Imperial Titles in Ancient China, and DeFrancis' ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary.

These pages have already led to some useful feedback. And when people ask me questions (always welcome) it gives a useful framework in which to answer. Without such feedback I will probably go back and focus in other areas.

The many shorthand references emphasize that this is an on-going project; they also help my further research.


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