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Creator Name: Unknown
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Name-CRT: Unknown maker
Title: Pipa
Title Type: Object name
View: Full View
Creation Date: undated
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Chordophone with neck/plucked
Materials and Techniques: Wood, ivory, bone, silk
Dimensions: Total L. 37 in. (94 cm); L. of body 23 in. (58.4 cm); Max W. of body 10 in. (25.3 cm); Max D. of body 1 1/8 in. (2.9 cm); L. of pegs 4 3/8 in. (11 cm); Vibrating L. of strings 27 in. (68.7 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 50.145.74
Credit Line: Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950

The word pipa describes the plucking motion of the right hand: pi, means 'to play forward' and pa, 'to play backward.' The pipa descends from western and central Asian prototypes and appeared in China during the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534). Originally it was held horizontally and played with a large plectrum, but Tang dynasty (618-906) musicians began using their fingernails to pluck the silk strings, and the instrument was then held upright. The back of this extraordinary pipa is a symmetrical 'beehive' of 110 hexagonal ivory plaques, each carved with a Daoist, Buddhist, or Confucian symbol. The instrument was probably made as a gift for nobility, possibly for a wedding.

AMICA ID: MMA_.50.145.74
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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