Traditional Chinese music

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Chinese Bowed-Stringed Musical Instruments
Within the history of musical instruments, bowed-stringed instruments made a relatively late appearance. In China they date back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), when the Yazheng and the Xiqin appeared, and to the Song Dynasty (960-1279), when the Maweihuqin appeared. The improvements and increase in variety of bowed-stringed instruments over more than 1,000 years have made them indispensable leading and accompanying instruments in traditional Chinese opera and music. With rich expressiveness and an outstanding capacity for mimicry, they are perfect for solo performances, and are a source of delight to Chinese music lovers.

This set of stamps features five uniquely Chinese bowed-stringed instruments that fill different orchestral roles.


Yaqin is the earliest Chinese bowed-stringed instrument, and has an exquisitely smooth tone, as well as a distinctive playing technique.

Erhu is the equivalent of the violin in a western orchestra, and enjoys the reputation of "prince" among Chinese musical instruments. Its light, nimble tone expresses sorrow, evokes fantastic reveries, and is an indispensable leading instrument in a Chinese folk orchestra.

Banhu is a high pitched instrument with a sonorous and resonant tone, and usually leads the accompanying instruments in a traditional Chinese orchestra.

Satar is a traditional Uygur ethnic instrument. It has a clear, melodious and vigorous tone, and is played in instrumental ensembles.

Matouqin was so named for its scroll, which is carved in the likeness of a horse's head. Having a soft, deep timbre, it expresses the eternal charm of the grasslands. It is normally made by its player, and is sometimes used in ensembles, as well as in accompaniment to comic dialogues, folk songs and dance.

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