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Xie Juanzi
- and Liu Juanzi; Qin Shi Bu #24
謝涓子 1
於劉涓子; 琴史補 #24 2
龍腰琴式 Dragon waist qin of Lu (Xie) Juanzi3  
Qin Shi Bu, taking its information mainly from a book of annotated qin images (which seems to say Xie Juanzi's qin had three strings4) identifies him as a man of 魯 Lu, perhaps suggesting the Warring States period.5 However, it seems more likely that "Lu" here refers simply to part of modern Shandong province. He himself apparently lived during the 晉 Jin dynasty and was perhaps related to the family that included Xie Kun. Given his joint biography with Liu Juanzi of Qi (next to Lu) this seems to make more sense.

Xie Juanzi's qin called Dragon's Waist (龍腰 Long Yao), illustrated at right, is also included as qin illustration 17 of Taiyin Daquanji.

The other qin mentioned below in his biography is one called Green Silk (Lü Qi), the famous qin said in illustration 28 to have belonged to Sima Xiangru.

As for the woman by the river, if she was really the daughter of Jiang Beiling 6 that would have meant she was related to Shen Nong, explaining Xie Juanzi's surprise. A melody called Clear River Prelude (Qingjiang Yin7) survives only in Chongxiu Zhenchuan Qinpu.

Other references to Xie Juanzi include:

Zangchunwu Qinpu (1602): says Xie Juanzi wrote Tianfeng Huanpei.
QSCM #1: his monograph 琴心三篇 Qin Xin Sanpian, also attributed to Juanzi.
QSDQ Folio 17, #5: biographical note mentioning three-string qin

The original biography of Xie Juanzi in Qin Shi Bu is as follows:8

Xie Juanzi, a man of Lu, had a qin called Dragon's Waist. The qin's waist had in it the shape of a half-moon. Its three strings were like the sound of seven strings. Once when wandering in Huai he played the qin by the river. Here he met a woman carring a small qin named Green Silk. She then played a melody with 非常俗 an other-worldly sound. Juanzi exclaimed to her, 姜北陵之女 Daughter of Jiang Beiling! Thus he received the melody Qingjiang Yin.  
劉涓子 Liu Juanzi

Liu Juanzi, from 齊 Qi (see also Juanzi), is called by Van Gulik (Poetical Essay, p. 92n) a Daoist doctor of the 4th c. CE, adding that Xie Zhuang in his Qin Lun attributed both Yang Chun and Bai Xue to Liu Juanzi. Of the three melodies mentioned below, there is surviving tablature for two, Xiuxi Yin (the earliest surviving tablature uses it as a prelude to Yang Chun) and Shishang Liu Quan (the earliest surviving tablature attributes it to Bo Ya, the attribution to Liu Juanzi coming much later). As for 高柳聞蟬 Gaoliu Wen Chan (Hearing Cicadas in the Tall Willows), 46302.426 高柳 quotes a poem in Wen Xuan by 陸機 Lu Ji (261 - 303) about cicadas calling from tall willows, but I have as yet found no further references to a melody on this theme. The sources are given below. Both seem sometimes to be confused with Juanzi.

The very short original biography of Liu Juanzi in Qin Shi Bu is as follows:9

There was also Liu Juanzi, a man of Qi; he wrote Xiuxi Yin, Shishang Liu Quan and Gaoliu Wen Chan.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 謝涓子 Xie Juanzi (also: 魯謝涓子, 魯涓子)
Bio/xxx; 36661.xxx. The sources given in Qin Shi Bu for both Xie Juanzi and Liu Juanzi are the Ming dynasty compendium 廣博物志 Guangbowu Zhi (as also with #16), and 琴疏 Qin Shu (perhaps the Gu Qin Shu by Yu Ruming; there is also an anonymous Gu Qin Shu).

2. 5 lines; 4 of them for Xie Juanzi.

3. 龍腰琴式 Dragon waist qin of 魯(謝)涓子 Lu (Xie) Juanzi (other images)
The image above comes from a collection of images called 宋人畫歷代琴式圖. The title there is "龍腰琴式 Dragon waist qin of Lu Juanzi", i.e, Xie Juanzi of Lu. The inscription there is basically the same as here, "魯(謝)涓子作。腰間作半月形,三絃如七絃之音。嘗游於江淮間。撫弄非常俗之声。遇女抱綠綺撫弄有神仙調音。涓子訝之。曰,妾昆陵之女也。因授《清江引》。.... "Made by Lu (Xie) Juanzi. At the waist were made half moon shapes. The sound of its three strings were like those of seven strings. (Juanzi) often wandered between the Huai and Yangzi rivers. The pieces he played sounded very subtle. He met a woman carrying a lüqi (qin)....." The full text, translated with this other Dragon Waist image but with the addition of a postscript (音釋 yinshi).

4. Three-string Qin
三絃琴 10.1141 only 三絃, which it describes either as a Japanese instrument (the samisen, a banjo-type instrument that came from China), or a Tang dynasty instrument from court music (雅樂 ya yue), comparing it to some sort of 搫 (12852 pa or po; = 12846 搬 ban: "move/remove"? no mention of music) by saying, "與三搫同 same as a 三搫 [sanpa or sanpo]" (10.xxx), but the commentary says, "雅樂用琴一、三弦琴一、搫琴一", which seems to suggest a "poqin" was played together with a regular qin and three stringed qin. (No further information on this.)

Traditional collections of qin images usually have three that mention three strings:

  1. 龍腰 Dragon's Waist
  2. 亞額 Cross-Shaped Forehead
  3. 響泉 Melodious Spring

However, it is never completely clear that this means an instrument designed for only three strings or ones that some people could play using only three of the strings yet still get the sounds that others needed all seven strings to get.

Other references include this brief comment and this melody attributed to Hu Yan but using all seven strings.

5. Confucius was from 魯 Lu (Return)

6. 姜北陵 Jiang Beiling
6335.xxx; 2615.249xxx

7. Clear River Prelude (清江吟 Qingjiang Yin)
18003.94. In addition to its inclusion in Chongxiu Zhenchuan Qinpu this title can also be found in some old melody lists, such as this one.

8. Original text
The Chinese text for this entry is:

謝涓子,魯人。有琴名《龍腰》。腰間作半月形。三弦如七弦之音。嘗遊淮上鼓琴,于水側遇一女,抱小綠綺,撫弄非常俗之聲。涓子訝 之。曰,妾北陵之女也。常操《清江引》。



9. Liu Juanzi
Original text above.


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