A Chinese adage says, “Music before medicine”. Music was believed to have the power to heal the heart, enrich the mind, and harmonize a person’s soul. The Chinese character for “medicine” (藥 yào) even stems from the character for “music” (樂, yuè). In the third millennium BC, people in China discovered the relationship between the pentatonic musical scale, the five elements, and the human body’s five internal and five sensory organs. During Confucius’s time, scholars used music’s calming properties to help improve and strengthen people’s character and conduct.

The household of the prince of Lu, during the Ming dynasty (900 to 400 years ago), commissioned several guqin, all numbered and bearing the inscription of the Princedom of Lu. A guqin, or qin, is a seven-string musical instrument, with an ivory fingerboard on a wooden hollow body. Its name can translate literally as “ancient string instrument”. It was considered to be the instrument of sages, endowed with cosmological and metaphysical significance, and associated with the philosopher Confucius. Our guqin (image below) is dated to 1644 AD; the last guqin commissioned by the princes of Lu, and it bears the inscription “Capital Peace” and a later poem by Jingyi Zhuren (1670) on the contemplation of the river Yangzi and the feeling of eternity.

Artist: Livien Yin

Prince Lu playing a guqin, a seven-string musical instrument

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Click here to learn more about what this license means

Thiss means you are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format; Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material. As long as you: Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made; ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

Credit: Livien Yin and Open Past

Want more images?

We will be publishing more images in the coming months. If you would like to be alerted when they are published, please subscribe below.

Consider Donating

All images are FREE, thanks to our funders. If you enjoyed them and want to help us make more please consider donating. Our goal is to get 100 people to donate 5 $ or £ or € month so that we can commission new drawings each month.

Progress: 3 of 100

Click the donate button and either give a one off donation or sign up for monthly donations. Please leave your email in the notes so we can thank you. Any help is appreciated. Thank you!