Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Erhu

Period:
Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Date:
19th century
Geography:
China
Culture:
Chinese
Medium:
Wood, python skin, cane, gut
Dimensions:
L: 76 cm.; Diam. of belly: 6.2 cm.; Depth of belly (front to back): 11.8 cm (4-11/16 in.) see diagram
Classification:
Chordophone-Lute-bowed-unfretted
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
89.4.39
Not on view
Two-stringed fiddles (huqin) were introduced into China by nomadic Mongols during the Yuan dynasty (1280-1368). (The presence of "hu" in the name of an instrument indicates that it was a foreign import.) Bow hairs passing between the huqin's strings may reflect the Mongol's need to secure the bow to his instrument while on horseback. Huqin are played vertically on the knee, fingered with the left hand and bowed with the right. In earlier times, there existed a greater variety of local fiddles, but today, as with the European family of violins, certain standard sizes prevail.
Although this nineteenth-century example has an hourglass-shaped body, the erhu more typically has a round or hexagonal sound box and a snakeskin belly. It is heard in traditional ensembles, modern orchestras, and solo performances. In the opera, it either doubles the melody of a higher-pitched fiddle (jinghu) an octave lower or accompanies female roles. In southern China and Taiwan, it is known as the nanhu.
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Asia, Gallery 27. 2. Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1903, vol. II, pg. 19.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Gallery 27. 1. Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1901, vol. I, pg. 19.



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