Your feedback
Verification Code
Русский язык
Suggestion Feedback
1.What part of the page does your feedback relate to?
-Please select-
Object Location
2. What type of feedback are you sharing?
-Please select-
Factual Error
Offensive Problematic Content
Providing Additional Information
3. Your feedback
4. If you are open to us contacting you about this feedback, please give your name
5. If you are open to us contacting you, please give your email address
We will only ever use your email address to correspond with you for the purposes of this feedback
6.Verification code
Arms, Armor and Ceremonial Articles
Qing dynasty

Red-lacquered Wood-framed Panpipe with Gold-painted Dragon-among-clouds Design

Period: Kangxi reign (1662–1722), Qing dynasty (1644–1911)

Medium: wood, bamboo

Dimensions: overall height: 33.7 cm, width: 35.8 cm, thickness: 3.3 cm, pipe-interior diameter: 0.9 cm


The panpipe is an instrument constructed with several vertically oriented flutes. The Chinese name, paixiao, is derived from the arranged row (pai) of bamboo flutes (xiao) of various lengths; it is also known as cenci (lit. “uneven layout”), bizhu (lit. “apposed bamboo”), and, due to its resemblance to unfurled phoenix wings, fengxiao (lit. “phoenix flute”). The sixteen bamboo flutes are of uniform thickness and arranged neatly with the embouchures on one level. The tone is determined by the length of the individual pipe: the longer the tube, the lower the tone. Each flute is inscribed in gold with the name of its corresponding note. Divided in two wings, the tones are arranged from low to high and correspond to the eight yang and eight yin notes of Qing-dynasty (1644–1911) music. The bamboo flutes are fixed inside a red-lacquered wood box embellished with a gold-painted design of two dragons frolicking with a pearl in a sumptuous imperial style.


In the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing dynasties, panpipes were used expressly in official harmonious musical ensembles (called zhonghe shaoyue) and belonged to the category of bamboo instruments in the traditional eight-tone harmony (bayin kexie), which symbolized the ultimate prestige of the deities of heaven and earth and the person of the emperor. The long history of the instrument’s use in ancient China begins in the Neolithic period. Stone panpipes have been unearthed from a tomb of the State of Chu dating to the latter centuries of the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BCE) in present-day Xiasi, Xichuan County, Henan Province, and bamboo panpipes have been found in the renowned tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng (buried ca. 433 BCE), which dates to the Warring States period (475–221 BCE). The instruments originally were fashioned without exterior wood frames. From the Yuan dynasty (1206–1368) onwards, wood-encased panpipes appear in the historical record and increasingly become employed expressly by imperial palace musicians; furthermore, any trace of the instrument among Chinese folk musicians has vanished.

Show All Details Show Fewer Details
Suggest Feedback