Zither (qin) inscribed with the name “Dragon’s Moan.”

Historical period(s)
Tang to Northern Song dynasty, 618-1127
Lacquer over wood; pegs and keys of jade; stops inlaid with metal; silk strings. Pegs, keys, and strings are replacements
H x W x D: 123.2 x 20.9 x 11.2 cm (48 1/2 x 8 1/4 x 4 7/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Musical Instrument


China, Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127), Tang dynasty (618 - 907)

To 1915
C. T. Loo (1880-1957), New York, NY obtained in China [1]

1915 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), gift of C. T. Loo presented to C.L. Freer on Friday, December 31, 1915 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Charles Lang Freer’s diary entry for Friday, December 31, where he reports that “Mr. Loo brought musical instruments,” copy in object file. See also letter from C. T. Loo to Charles Lang Freer, undated, copy in object file. Loo writes to Freer: “Our friends in China have heard that you are looking for some antique Ching instruments and so they have bought 2 which I am sending you and hope that you would give us all a great pleasure to accept them as souvenirs from our Chinese friends.” C.L. Freer’s notation on Loo’s letter - “ANSD Jan. 3, 1916” - dates Freer’s response to Loo. The second musical instrument to which Loo refers in his letter is F1915.99.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
C.T. Loo 1880-1957


The scalloped outline of this zither and its slightly thick sound box are considered typical features of Song dynasty (960–1127) or earlier instruments. Due to reasons including wear from use, tuning pegs and string anchors are often replaced several times in an instrument's lifetime. The present jade examples are therefore likely to be later replacements. A difficult to read inscription inside the zither that has been examined with infrared technology seems to contain a date corresponding to a year in the reign period between 1008-1017. It is not known if this date is the date of manufacture or a date of an early restoration of the instrument.

Published References
  • Dr. Yang Yuanzheng. Dragon’s Roar: Chinese Literati Musical Instruments in the Freer and Sackler Collections. Washington, DC. .
  • Minzong Zheng. Unknown title. vol. 10 Hong Kong, 1992 - 1993. pp. 35-37.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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