From Confucianist Meditative Tool to Maoist Revolutionary Weapon: The Seven-Stringed Zither (Qin) in the Cultural Revolution

  • Tsan-Huang Tsai
Part of the Chinese Literature and Culture in the World book series (CLCW)


In the existing literature on the Chinese seven-stringed zither qin, historical approaches often stop short of exploring post-1966 developments, while ethnographic approaches routinely elaborate findings from the 1980s onward. Consequently, the qin during China’s Cultural Revolution remains under-researched. In his 1982 history of the qin, Xu Jian (1923) only uses half a paragraph to describe what happened during this period, stating thus:

Qin activities were very discontinuous in mainland China due to a group of older qin players tragically dying in this huge wave of opposition and even the few who were fortunately still alive at the end of this period were forced to give up their beloved instrument.1


Chinese Communist Party Cultural Revolution Musical Activity Mass Audience Traditional Music 
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    Jian Xu, A Brief’History of’the Qin (Qinshi chubian) (Beijing: Renmin yinyue chubanshe, 1982), 194.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Zhang is a well-known Shanghai qin player who taught at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. His diary is an important source for understanding the modern history of the qin, but, sadly, the part written during the Cultural Revolution is missing. Zhang often uses abbreviations when referring to names of qin repertories—for example, “Pingsha” for “Pingsha Luoyan.” For more information, see Ziqian Zhang, My Diary and the Qin (Caoman suoji) (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2005).Google Scholar
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© Tsan-Huang Tsai 2016

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  • Tsan-Huang Tsai

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