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Two xiāo, one of jade and one of porcelain, on display at the Metropolitan Museum
  • Other Names: 管 (J: kan)
  • Chinese/Japanese: 洞簫 (dòngxiāo / dôshô)

The dòngxiāo is a Chinese end-blown flute, sometimes referenced in Japanese and Ryukyuan sources simply as a kan (lit. "pipe," "tube," or "flute"). It can be made of a variety of different materials, but bamboo is perhaps the most common. The xiao typically has six finger holes (five on top, and one on bottom). Additional holes are sometimes present, for a tassel to be strung through, for purely decorative purposes.

Dòngxiāo are perhaps most strongly associated with southeastern China and Taiwan, and with literati, scholarly, and Confucian contexts; they were not only used in China, however, but were also standard elements of uzagaku (Chinese-style chamber music) ensembles in the Ryûkyûan royal court, and in Ryukyuan embassies' performances in Edo.


  • Okinawa bijutsu zenshû 5, 342.
  • Gallery labels, Metropolitan Museum.[1]