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Methodology

When the Fuxi-style qin came to the CUHK Library, it attracted the attention of qin experts in Hong Kong.  Its snake-like crack pattern, called duanwen (断纹), informed its antiquity.  Although there was still crack pattern in the style of da shefu (大蛇腹) on the surface board, the patterns at the sides and the bottom board were almost gone.[3]  Qin experts in Hong Kong, including Mr. Shum Hing Shun, Mr. Sou Si Tai, Dr. Tse Chun Yan, and Professor James Watt, examined the qin in April 2012 at the Chung Chi College Elisabeth Luce Moore Library (Fig. 1).  There was a hole on the surface board, which was not a common structure of qin, so Mr. Sou Si Tai filled the hole (Fig. 2).

 

Fig. 1.  Exploring the Fuxi-style qin.  (From Left) Dr. Tse Chun Yan, Professor James Watt, and Mr. Shum Hing Shun.

 

Fig. 2a.  The hole on the surface board and the wood for filling it in.

Fig. 2b.  The hole being filled.

Fig. 2.  The hole on the surface board before and after being filled.

 

In June 2012, the qin underwent endoscopy by Professor Francis Chan of Faculty of Medicine.  The endoscopy result informs that two lines of text were written with cinnabar on the surface board inside the qin belly: "大唐开元二年兰庵主人得梓材古琴雷威重斲" (Video 1).  The text says that the owner of lanan got this catalpa qin in year two of the Kai Yuan era of the Tang dynasty and it was repaired by Lei Wei. [4]

 

Video 1. Words on the surface board inside the qin belly.

 

After an investigation of the qin, Shum wrote a report .  Although the cinnabar text suggested that the qin underwent a repair in the Tang dynasty, Shum estimated that the qin was built in the early Ming dynasty with reference to its size, shape, and wood.[5]  He commented that the text might have been added by one of the early repairers and is a misleading statement.  The qin might have its last major repair not earlier than the late Qing dynasty.[6] 

 

In May 2018, the qin further underwent a CT scanning.  The results were inspiring.  With the slides from the CT scanning, which were the transverse section of the qin (Fig. 3), the Library further explored the secrets hidden inside the qin using the software OsiriX MD, a medical images viewer. [7]  The thickness of the qin's wood became visible (Fig. 4).  Two coins (Figs 3d, 3e, 4d, and 4e) and the filled hole (Figs 3f and 4f) were found at the neck region of the surface board.  The coronal section shows that they align with each other.  Furthermore, in addition to a passage of text being engraved beneath the "dragon pool" (龙池) of the bottom board, the possible names of the qin were discovered above the "dragon pool" at similar levels of section.  These results will be discussed in the other sessions of this report.

 

Fig. 3a.  The head.

Fig. 3b. The tuning pegs.

Fig. 3c. The bridge.

Fig. 3d.  A coin embedded to cover a hole near to the head.

Fig. 3e.  Another coin embedded to cover another hole further to the head.

Fig. 3f.  A filled hole. 

Fig. 3g.  Possible position of the lost sound post.

Fig. 3h. The hui (top right) and the "dragon pool" (bottom).

Fig. 3i.  The feet.

Fig. 3.  Transverse section of the qin (CT scanning images, without shading).

 

Fig. 4a.  The head.

Fig. 4b.  The tuning pegs.

Fig. 4c.  The bridge.

Fig. 4d.  A coin embedded to cover a hole near to the head.

Fig. 4e.  Another coin embedded to cover another hole further to the head.

Fig. 4f.  A filled hole.                         

Fig. 4g.  Possible position of the lost sound post.

Fig. 4h.  The hui (top right) and the "dragon pool" (bottom).

Fig. 4i.  The feet.

Fig.4.  Under a different shading in OsiriX, the thickness of the wood and strings are visible.

 


[3] Shum, Hing Shun,  "A Report on the Observation of Rulan Chao Pian’s Untitled Fuxi-Style Qin" [卞赵如兰旧藏无名伏羲式琴之观察报告], Internal Report, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Library, 29 June 2012.

[4] Lei Wei was a renowned qin creator in the Tang Dynasty, the ruling dynasty in China from 618 to 907.

[5] The Ming Dynasty ruled China between 1368 and 1644.

[6] The Qing Dynasty ruled China from 1644 to 1911.

[7] OsiriX MD is available at iMac1 in the Digital Scholarship Lab.