Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Musical Instrument Museum, Part 3

Still more to see from the Ancient Chinese Musical Instrument Exhibit including this pavilion which houses musicians and dancers. The piece dates to the Han dynasty, 206 BCE to 220 CE. Many Han tombs included ceramic models of the palatial homes that noblemen wished to inhabit in the afterlife, frequently including servants, livestock and even pets. This unusual and architecturally impressive multistory tower houses a group of flute players and dancers, suggesting the owner had a strong interest in music.

This is a yellow-glazed flat wine flask from 575 CE. It depicts a music and dance troupe, probably from Persia or other parts of Central Asia, performing a dance style known as hutang, or "westerner rotating dance". It was found in a tomb located at an important meeting place along The Silk Road.

Here we see white jade pendants from the Western Han dynasty, 206 BCE to 25 CE. Fashionable ladies of the Han courts wore flowing sleeves longer than their arms, adding elegance and energy to their dances.

Next up is a wine vessel from the Han dynasty, 206 BCE to 220 CE. Acrobatic acts accompanied by music, usually performed by women, became very popular during the Han dynasty.

I think these are really cute — tricolored xun vessel flutes from the Tang dynasty, 618 to 907 CE. These playful vessel flutes, shaped like the heads of monkeys and people, were popular toys for children.

This photo shows a tricolor-glazed female drummer figurine from the Tang dynasty, 618 to 907 CE. She is playing a xiyaogu hourglass drum.

Here is a full-sized drum as also depicted in the previous photo, again from the Tang dynasty. This clay-bodied drum, known as a xiyaogu, would have had a leather drum head on each end. Historians believe these drums were introduced from other parts of Asia via the Silk Road trade. Despite being popular during the Tang dynasty, specimens of xiyaogu are extremely rare in Chinese music archeology.

The next two photos show painted ceramic figurines of female musicians from the Sui dynasty, 595 CE.

This important group of figurines depicts an ensemble of eight (four above and four here) female musicians playing in the popular zuobuji, or "seated performance", style of the time.

Here we see a figurine of a man leading a procession with gong and flag. This piece is from the Ming dynasty, 1368 to 1644 CE.

And next is a figurine depicting a male sheng performer also from the Ming dynasty.

Last for today is a magnificent tricolored figure of a musician on horseback from the Tang dynasty, 618 to 907 CE. The musician is playing a pair of kettledrums hung across the horse's neck, probably for a type of marching-band music called guchuiyue ("drumming-and-blowing music") that included wind instruments and drums. Large ceramic figurines glazed in three colors, known in Chinese as sancai, are highly desirable.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com