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Chinese Musical Instruments

Musical instruments, throughout a history that spans 7000 years, have been a very integral part of ancient and contemporary Chinese religion as well as entertainment. Excavated artifacts indicated that flutes have existed since Neolithic China. By the Han Dynasty in 206 B.C. music was already being organized and edited by an imperial-decreed music bureau.

There are four main categories of traditional Chinese musical instruments: percussion, string, wind, and plucked instruments. Percussion instruments, which in the past consisted primarily of bells and chimes, were originally reserved for the imperial members of society for religious reasons. Other percussion instruments were used to create a regular knocking sound in order to aid meditation.

The Erhu, a string instrument, is played with a bow that is dragged along vertical strings. Flutes are the most common wind instrument in China; the earliest found was made out of bone the Neolithic period. Flutes were more often made out of bamboo. The pipa, or lute, consists of a body shaped like a gourd with vertical strings, which are plucked with a musician’s fingers to make music.


Quick Facts

  • Traditional Chinese belief is that music affects the harmony of the universe. For this reason, it was historically frowned upon to produce music for entertainment’s sake
  • Confucius used and taught others to use musical instruments as a means to calm feelings of lust and passion
  • Music was not enjoyed by common Chinese people until the Tang Dynasty, 690-705 A.D.

Recommended Items at Auction

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Tibetan Gilt Brass Dragon Form Ceremonial Horn
Dec 11, 11:00 AM EST
Tibetan Gilt Brass Dragon Form Ceremonial Horn
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
Chinese Kuaiban Clapper Rosewood Allegro
Dec 17, 9:30 AM EST
Chinese Kuaiban Clapper Rosewood Allegro
by Luban Antique
Est: $50- $100
$101 Bid
A GILT-BRONZE-MOUNTED TRUMPET
Dec 06, 9:30 AM CET
A GILT-BRONZE-MOUNTED TRUMPET
by Nagel Auction
Est: €500- €800
€5001 Bid
WOOD LACQUERED MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, GUQIN
Dec 03, 3:00 PM PST
WOOD LACQUERED MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, GUQIN
by Mega International Auction
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$6000 Bids
THREE HEXAGONAL BRONZE BELLS
Dec 07, 9:30 AM CET
THREE HEXAGONAL BRONZE BELLS
by Nagel Auction
Est: €300- €500
€3000 Bids
CHINA, Modern. Hard stone flute and hard ston
Dec 03, 2:00 PM CET
CHINA, Modern. Hard stone flute and hard ston
by FW Auction
Est: €20- €30
€200 Bids
ROSEWOOD WESTERN BELL 紅木西洋鐘
Dec 04, 1:00 PM CST
ROSEWOOD WESTERN BELL 紅木西洋鐘
by Treasure Art
Est: NT$0- NT$0
NT$10,0000 Bids
A CHINESE BRONZE-GILT RITUAL BELL
Dec 04, 9:30 AM EST
A CHINESE BRONZE-GILT RITUAL BELL
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $7,000- $10,000
$2,0000 Bids
Two Tibetan/Nepalese Implements: Phurba and Drum Handle
Dec 14, 10:00 AM EST
Two Tibetan/Nepalese Implements: Phurba and Drum Handle
by Material Culture
Est: $150- $300
$750 Bids
CHINESE HETIAN JADE FIGURE OF BOY HIT DRUM
Dec 08, 9:30 AM EST
CHINESE HETIAN JADE FIGURE OF BOY HIT DRUM
by Merces Gallery LLC
Est: $1,200- $3,000
$7500 Bids
A LARGE DRUM ON A RED-LACQUERED STAND WITH DRAGONS
Dec 07, 9:30 AM CET
A LARGE DRUM ON A RED-LACQUERED STAND WITH DRAGONS
by Nagel Auction
Est: €6,000- €10,000
€6,0000 Bids
Vintage Chinese Brass Gong
Nov 30, 11:00 AM EST
Vintage Chinese Brass Gong
by World Auction Gallery
Est: $20- $30
$100 Bids
ANTIQUE TIBET TELESCOPING COPPER HORN
Dec 04, 1:00 PM EST
ANTIQUE TIBET TELESCOPING COPPER HORN
by Charleston Estate Auctions
Est: $300- $400
$50 Bids
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LARGE CHINESE BRONZE CEREMONIAL HANGING BELL Early 20th Century Height 26.5”.
Dec 06, 9:30 AM EST
LARGE CHINESE BRONZE CEREMONIAL HANGING BELL Early 20th Century Height 26.5”.
by Eldred's
Est: $600- $800
$3000 Bids
Chinese Nagra w/ Black & White Inlay Drum
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Chinese Nagra w/ Black & White Inlay Drum
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
ENORMOUS TIBETAN 'DUNG CHEN' TRUMPET
Dec 04, 10:00 AM PST
ENORMOUS TIBETAN 'DUNG CHEN' TRUMPET
by Scollard Auctions
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids
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A bronze music instrument, chi Han dynasty
Dec 07, 2:00 PM AEDT
A bronze music instrument, chi Han dynasty
by Bonhams
Est: AUD1,200- AUD1,800
AUD1,2000 Bids
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Two inscribed bamboo flutes, Xiao Late Qing dynasty (2)
Dec 07, 2:00 PM AEDT
Two inscribed bamboo flutes, Xiao Late Qing dynasty (2)
by Bonhams
Est: AUD300- AUD500
AUD1500 Bids
A BRASS AND WOOD OBOE, HAIDI, 18TH-19TH CENTURY
Dec 10, 11:00 AM CET
A BRASS AND WOOD OBOE, HAIDI, 18TH-19TH CENTURY
by Galerie Zacke
Est: €500- €1,000
€5000 Bids
Chinese Nagra w/ Black & White Inlay Drum
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Chinese Nagra w/ Black & White Inlay Drum
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$100 Bids
A 17th/18th century gilded bronze Tibetan temple bell. 33.5 cm wide.
Dec 03, 10:00 AM GMT
A 17th/18th century gilded bronze Tibetan temple bell. 33.5 cm wide.
by Rowley Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers
Est: £60- £80
£600 Bids
Vintage Tibetan Bronze Rain Drum, Southeast Asia, 15"h x 18"dia
Dec 06, 5:00 PM EST
Vintage Tibetan Bronze Rain Drum, Southeast Asia, 15"h x 18"dia
by Bill Hood & Sons Arts & Antiques Auctions
Est: $500- $1,000
$2500 Bids
A FINE SILVER MOUNTED HORN WITH STONE INLAYS
Dec 06, 9:30 AM CET
A FINE SILVER MOUNTED HORN WITH STONE INLAYS
by Nagel Auction
Est: €900- €1,500
€9000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Musical Instruments


Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.

Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.

Eldred's

Eldred's