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The story of the “Qiulai” qin unraveled by radiocarbon dating, Chinese inscriptions and material characterization

Abstract : Abstract An ancient table zither qin , an emblematic stringed instrument of traditional Chinese music, has been rediscovered in the museum collection of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (inv.4224, CNAM collection), Paris. This instrument named “Qiulai” qin , whose origin is poorly documented, can claim to be one of the oldest qin preserved in European collections; its state of conservation is exceptional. A thorough examination was carried out based on an innovative approach combining museum expertise, material characterization analyses (optical microscopy, VIS/IR/UV imaging, X-ray fluorescence, SEM–EDS, Raman) and advanced radiocarbon dating technology (MICADAS). Our results highlight the great coherence with the traditional manufacturing practices mentioned in early Qing dynasty qin treatises and poems, in particular the collection of materials with highly symbolic meanings referring to the qin sound, nature and the universe. The reuse of resinous wood of the Taxus family from a building such as a temple has been demonstrated. The ash layer contains bone black, crushed malachite and residues of silica, ochres, potassium and magnesium aluminosilicates. Our study confirms the antiquity of the "Qiulai" qin in Europe by indicating that it was most likely made in the small [1659–1699] interval of about 30 years at the turn of the eighteenth century.
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Submitted on : Sunday, August 8, 2021 - 4:13:50 PM
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Marie-Gabrielle Durier, Alexandre Girard-Muscagorry, Christine Hatté, Tiphaine Fabris, Cyrille Foasso, et al.. The story of the “Qiulai” qin unraveled by radiocarbon dating, Chinese inscriptions and material characterization. Heritage Science, Springer, 2021, 9 (1), pp.89. ⟨10.1186/s40494-021-00563-8⟩. ⟨hal-03300370⟩

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