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Bamboo Panpipes Fitted in Red Lacquer Wooden Case with Gold-Traced Dragon and Cloud Motifs

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Period: Kangxi Period of Qing Dynasty
Medium: bamboo
Dimensions: height: 33.7 cm; length: 35.8 cm; width: 3.3 cm; inner diameter: 0.9 cm; outer diameter: 1.3 cm

This instrument comprises sixteen bamboo pipes. The name of the pitch of each pipe is inscribed in gold on its surface. The pitches produced by the eight pipes on the left are correlated with the active (yang) force, and the pitches produced by the other eight pipes on the right are correlated with the passive (yin) force. From left to right, the yang pitches consist of two auxiliary pitches and six principal pitches. From right to left, the yin pitches also consist of two auxiliary pitches and six principal pitches. The sixteen pipes are identical in diameter but differ in length. They are progressively arranged in such a way that the longest two are at the two ends while the shortest two are in the centre. The blowing end of each pipe is cut off on the slant, and each pipe sounds differently according to its length. The sixteen pipes are inserted into a wooden case in the shape of a low table. The entire instrument is lacquered red. Both sides of the wooden case are decorated with gold-traced dragon-among-clouds design. Inscribed in gold at the centre of the case under the names of the pitches is a four-character mark that may be translated to read, "Made by the imperial command of the Kangxi Emperor" (Kangxi yuzhi). The ring fitted to the lower centre of the case was probably used for suspending a tassel.

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