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  • Chinese/Japanese: 洋琴、揚琴、楊琴、瑤琴 (yángqín / youkin)

The yangqin is a Chinese style of dulcimer, a stringed musical instrument played with a pair of small bamboo hammers.

Developing out of instruments originally developed in Persia (or elsewhere in the Central Asia / Middle East region), the dulcimer is a relatively new one within the range of traditional Chinese musical instruments. It was first introduced to the Canton (Guangdong province) region only in the 17th century, after which it began to spread to the remainder of the country. In early modern (Tokugawa period) Japan, the sight or sound of a dulcimer was a rather rare and exotic thing.

Still, despite being relatively new, the dulcimer has evolved considerably within China, in the centuries since its introduction. Yangqin played by Ryukyuan embassies to Edo were likely representative of the style still then current in Qing Dynasty China, at that time, and yet they were quite different in size and shape from those which are standard in China today.[1]


  • Kaneshiro Atsumi 金城厚, "Gakudôji, gakushi, kagakushi - uzagaku wo tsutaeta hitobito" 楽童子・楽師・歌楽師ー御座楽を伝えた人々, in Uzagaku no fukugen ni mukete 御座楽の復元を向けて, Uzagaku fukugen ensô kenkyûkai (2007), 75.
  1. Gallery labels, "The Sound of Ryukyuan Musical Instruments" 絢爛たる琉球楽器, exhibit at Shuri castle, Naha, Okinawa, Dec 2016.