The Legend of Silk and Wood: A Hong Kong Qin Story
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Art of Qin Making

A wealth of experience has been accumulated by dozens of generations of qin makers in the many stages of the instrument’s production including material selection, styling, lacquering, shaping, and hollowing. The following verse appears in the Ding Zhi Fang Zhong in Yongfeng (Odes of Yong) in Shijing (The Book of Poetry): “He planted about it hazel and chestnut trees; The yi, the tong, the zi, and lacquer trees; As they might afford materials for qin and se when cut down.” This record shows that the use of timber of different hardness from tong (Chinese parasol), zi (Chinese catalpa) and other trees for the making of qin top and bottom boards was already a well-known fact at the time. Indeed, qin making methods have been successfully transmitted over the generations to this day. There has been no lack of famous qin makers and their creations through the ages. According to folklore, Cai Yong (c.133-192) of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) had already used a piece of scorched wood to create the Jiaowei (Scorched Tail) qin. The Lei family of Sichuan was renowned for their qin making during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when Lei Wei being the most distinguished qin maker of the time. A Lei qin is regarded by qin lovers as a rare jewel of qins.

Various methods for qin making have been recorded in many ancient sources. The Yuguzhai Qinpu (Yuguzhai Qin Handbook), written by Zhu Fengjie of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), is particularly detailed. Zhuoqintu (Illustration of Qin Making) by Gu Kaizhi (c.344-405) from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), on the other hand, records the steps of the ancient craft with illustrations.


  • Yuguzhai Qinpu (Yuguzhai Qin Handbook)

  • Zhuoqintu (Illustration of Qin Making)

  • Wood chopping [extracted from Zhuoqintu (Illustration of ...

  • Qin shaping [extracted from Zhuoqintu (Illustratio...