From SamuraiWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
A se on display at the Metropolitan Museum
  • Chinese: 瑟 (sè)

The se is a Chinese traditional musical instrument, a heavy 25-string zither often used in Daoist and state ceremonies.

The instrument is associated with notions of friendship, particularly among literati, and especially when paired with the qin.

It is rather distinct among East Asian zithers, as it is plucked with two hands, and has multi-colored strings. Five blue strings represent the Azure Dragon of the East, and heaven; five red strings the Vermillion Bird of the South; four yellow strings the element of earth and the center direction; five purple strings; five black strings representing the Dark Warrior of the North; and finally one white string, which goes unplayed, and represents the White Tiger of the West, mourning, and the element of the void.


  • Gallery labels, Musical Instruments gallery, Metropolitan Museum.