Pre-21st Century Guqin History and Aesthetics

From Standards of the Guqin by Juni L. Yeung, pages 45-48 (tentative).

Traditional Aesthetics for Guqin Music

Guqin has been tied with the Yin-Yang School of thought from the earliest records of history as the representative of silk (plucked string) instruments, as well the symbol of the five sounds on each of its strings. By determining which string (or tone) dictates the melody, one can determine the subject of the message the musician is trying to convey. For example, anecdotes of Master Wen of Zheng (Shi Wen 師文) and Master Kuang (Shi Kuang師曠) of Jin both cautioned their kings not to listen to music of the Shang pitch (and later the Jue and Zhi pitch), and caused season-changing chaos as they were forced to play anyway. This relation between tone quality and the rest of nature is a backbone of Chinese musical philosophy, and as much as later composers denied such fantastical tales and refused to believe it, the system is still often cited in full at the preface or as part of music theory in manuscripts. More

A Brief on early 21st Century Guqin Culture

From Standards of the Guqin, by Juni L. Yeung, p.50 (tentative).


Since UNESCO’s recognition of the music as a piece of Cultural or Intangible Heritage in 2003, the instrument has gone through a worldwide fad for learning this once elite practice closely related to personal refinement and transcendence. Despite the official narrative claiming that the number of guqin players are constantly on the decline (such as during the Opening Ceremonies of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing 2008, reporters were given statistics that less than 50 players remain), a new generation of young cultural enthusiasts and students are keeping the torch alive, if not burning brighter with new innovations and research results. More

The Hanfu Movement and Chinese Society’s Issues

Yunnan Hanfu members handing bottled drinking water to schoolchildren.

A glimpse at the past week of Hanfu events across China, in comparison with the founding days in late 2003 can bring us to marvel at how far this initiative to bring ethnic Han clothing back as a living practice has come. The days of simply parading down the streets have long since past, and now Hanfu is a symbol of showing concern over society, the meaning of tradition, and public responsibility over both.  

Let us take a look at several common perspectives of how and what people use Hanfu to present themselves for, with three pieces of recent news: An upcoming Zhuju (the ancestor of soccer/football) game in Beijing, an homage to Gen. Wen Tianxiang that led to a discussion over female rights in ritual participation, and a water donation drive to the suffering villages of the drought-ridden Yunnan Province.  



April 2010
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