Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Suona (嗩吶 )

Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
late 19th–early 20th Century
Wood, metal
Height: 16 in. (40.6 cm)
Diameter (Of bell): 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
Aerophone-Reed Vibrated-double reed
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
Not on view
Double-reed instruments first appeared during the late Han dynasty, having originated in the Middle East. The term suona derives from zūrna, the Arabic name for the instrument. It is depicted, along with many other instruments, in images created from the third to the fifth century in the Buddhist cave temples at Kizil. The penetrating sound of the suona, ideal for processions and military functions, was easily appropriated for popular music. Several varieties are found in China, including a smaller version called a haidi. The player, whose mouth completely covers the small reeds, uses circular breathing (inhaling through the nose) to maintain a constant tone.
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Historical Groups, Gallery 39. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1905, pg. 60.

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