The Legend of Silk and Wood: A Hong Kong Qin Story
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About the Collection

With a history dating back more than 3,000 years, the qin, or guqin as this Chinese zither is more commonly called today, is one of the oldest plucked musical instruments in China: traditionally regarded as one of the “Four Arts of the Scholar”, along with qi (chess), shu (calligraphy) and hua (painting), it represented the height of musical prowess and was long associated with China’s literati. Occupying a distinctive position in Chinese culture, the art of guqin music was designated a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2003 and has thus been recognized as part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage.

Hong Kong is home to a number of qin lovers who – following in the steps of qin players of the past who traditionally built their own instruments – have dedicated themselves to passing on the playing and making of the qin. Not only does the instrument embody a musical skill, the process of crafting involved is also inherently an art. To mark the 10th anniversary of UNESCO’s announcement, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum joined hands with the Choi Chang Sau Qin Making Society to present “The Legend of Silk and Wood: A Hong Kong Qin Story” exhibition in 2013 to promote the appreciation of qin in Hong Kong by looking at the transmission of this ancient art from the perspectives of “traditional craftsmanship” (i.e. qin making) and “performing arts” (i.e. qin playing) as defined by the UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Materials for this collection largely come from the exhibition “The Legend of Silk and Wood: A Hong Kong Qin Story”, comprising photographs, audios, videos and articles etc., giving readers an understanding of the art of qin making and playing in Hong Kong.