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Anhui Province and the Qin 1
 
安徽於古琴
Ming dynasty Huangshan2            
Since ancient times the mountains and streams around the region of Anhui's Huangshan mountain range have attracted scholars in reclusion. The trees from here provided wood for the making of qin.3 Then from the late Ming through the Qing dynasties this area became wealthy through its merchant class, with many of them patronizing the arts. At the same time the area became a center publishing books with woodcut engravings, such as the one to the right.

On the other hand, only a few melodies in Ming dynasty qin handbooks have specific thematic connections to places in Anhui province, apparently none to Huangshan.4 These include:

  1. Meihua Sannong
    This melody was supposedly played on a flute during a chance meeting in Anhui
  2. Chu Ge
    The battle at Gaixia and subsequent events were in Anhui
  3. Bagong Cao
    Attributed to Liu An, prince of Huai in Anhui
  4. Zuiweng Yin
    The Old Toper had his estate near Chuzhou in Anhui
Thus a full performance with the theme of Anhui province during the Ming dynasty would probably focus on music published in two of the most important guqin handbooks, both produced there during the mid-Ming period:

  1. Taigu Yiyin (1511)
    38 melodies all with lyrics
  2. Xilutang Qintong (1525)
    170 melodies, 19 with lyrics

Unfortunately, at present there is no information about whether any of these melodies originated in that region, or were created by people from that region.

From the late Ming dynasty there is also a third handbook, this one perhaps associated more specifically with this region:

Lexian Qinpu (late Ming)
35 melodies, all with lyrics; this handbook may have been compiled specifically for the "Qin School of the Wang Family of Xin'an", but once again the origin of the melodies is unclear. It does not seem to have a specific connection to either of the earlier handbooks.

All three handbooks are associated with the old Huizhou district of Anhui, with the first two specifically referring to its She county. Today this region is often simply called the Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) region as it is the main base from which people go to visit the Huangshan range just to the north.

The Taigu Yiyin of 1511 is the earliest surviving book of qin songs, and the Xilutang Qintong has the largest number of melodies of any surviving qin handbook. However, it is not clear whether they were actually printed in the Huizhou/Huang Shan area.

Although the qin was often viewed as the exclusive domain of the literati, there seems to be evidence here of the music being influenced by the interaction of these scholars with the Huizhou merchant class. This is a topic which has not yet been properly researched, so for the present one can say little more than that there is much beautiful and distinctive music in the former two handbooks; I do not know of any that are played from the third.

There are also accounts of other qin players associated with this region.5 Further research into the backgrounds of all these people associated with qin, as well as further details from the publications above, could lead to new insights into qin playing during the Ming dynasty.6

 
Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Anhui and Guqin
This is an exploratory page.
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2. Huangshan during the Ming dynasty
Search this site for "Guobiao" to see several further examples from the book with this image, which is on p.2 of 張國標 Zhang Guobiao, ed., 徽派版畫藝術 Art of Woodcut of the Huizhou School, 安徽省美術出版社 Anhui Publishing House, 1995. On the expanded image you can see small squares with the names of specific peaks.
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3. Huangshan and wood for making qins
The best wood for making qins was generally said to be in the mountains of Sichuan province.
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4. Anhui theme
Given the fame of Huangshan ("Yellow Mountain"), it is perhaps surprising that no melodies specifically connect to it. For a personal experience, though, see this account.
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5. Other qin players from Anhui
Those mentioned elsewhere on this site include:

Cheng Zhiqian
Wu Jinghu
Zhang Shangyu (wife of Wu Jinghu)
Wang Xiwu
No further details at present.
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5. Anhui theme extended
Also related to this is the page The Qin in Popular Culture: Novels and Opera.
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