Dungchen-playing nuns Tibetans enjoy singing. Karaokes are popular; workers often sing when they work; and festivals are full of singing and dancing. Tradition Tibetan singers sing on high pitches and mostly in minor keys. Shipek Dorje, a 20-year-old student was from the Palgon County of Nagqu Prefecture on the vast western Tibetan steppe, , told Xinhua. "I love Tibetan songs. My parents are herders and I grew up in their songs."Tibet has its own traditional secular and religious music. In the early 2000s, Tibetan songs became very popular among mainland Chinese.
Hua'er, ("flower") is a kind of folksong that Tibetans enjoy very much but is more associated with the Hui, Tu, Dongxiang and Bonan ethnic groups. It is resonant, exuberant music style that is often enjoyed at festivals.. Hua'er is also called Shaonian, because the boys call the girls Hua'er and the girls call the boys Shaonian when they sing in turns. Hua'er Meeting takes place on outdoor stages where singers compete and sing together. Among most famous meetings are one held in Ningxia every year, on Mount Lianhua at the beginning of the sixth lunar month and another hled on Mount Songming late in the fourth lunar month. [Source: chinaculture.org, Chinadaily.com.cn, Ministry of Culture, P.R.China]
According to the Chinese government: “Tibetans are good at singing and dancing. They sing anytime for any event — at festivals, weddings, and gatherings as well as in their spare time. Tibetan dance and song are inseparable twins. If Tibetans sing, they are sure to dance, and they dance while singing. Their songs and music are well-modulated in tone and the words fit well with the tunes.The areas inhabited by Tibetans boasts a great diversity of folk songs and dances. Some musical instruments were introduced from the interior of China. Long-handled drums and trumpets are the main musical instruments used by the lamas. They can depict natural sounds, the cries of animals and the singing of birds that can be heard at a great distance. [Source: China.org]
See Separate Articles MUSIC IN TIBET factsanddetails.com; TIBETAN DANCE factsanddetails.com; OPERA AND THEATER IN TIBET factsanddetails.com; Night Out in Lhasa See TIBETAN CULTURE: HISTORY, STEREOTYPES AND KEEPING IT ALIVE factsanddetails.com articles on TIBETAN CULTURE factsanddetails.com
Websites and Sources: Tibetan Online tibet.org/Culture/Music ; Music Tibetan musictibet.com ; Mystical Arts of Tibet ; New York Times article on Tibetan Dance nytimes.com
Traveling minstrels still make a living playing on the streets of Tibetan cities and traveling from town to town. These minstrels often works in groups of two or three, singing songs and ballads about kings and heros to the accompaniment of a Tibetan four-string guitar. Other secular instruments include the “dranyan” (a six string lute), “piwang” (two-string fiddle) and “gyumang” (a Chinese-style zither). Some music features trilling flute solos.
The Song and Dance Company of the Autonomous Region of Tibet, the Shanan Prefecture Arts Ensemble, the Lhasa Song and Dance Company and the Tibet Philharmonic Orchestra are Chinese-government-sponsored Tibetan musical groups. Playing a mix of Tibetan music and popular Western classical pieces, they perform at Lhasa’s theaters campuses and community centers. Every year they perform in the New Year Concert broadcast on Tibet TV. Some of the works they perform are musical pieces created by Tibetan musicians for Tibetan instruments in both Western and Tibetan forms.
Penpa, the leader of Tibet Philharmonic Orchestra and Tibet’s only sanctioned conductor, told the China Daily, “To some degree the financial conditions are quite good, the government funds every concert. Honestly speaking, so far there is no market demand for western classical music in Tibet. We seldom give commercial performances, Most concerts are just to promote classical music or introduce Tibetan music to the youth.”
The lyrics to “Happiness on the Way" performed by Tibetans at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing" went: “Approaching Tibet, you are approaching harmony and happiness/ Leaving Tibet, you take happiness with you on the way/ Recalling Tibet above the bright clouds/ The long way to happiness stretches far beyond/ And the eulogy song for happiness flies forever/ The faith in the pursuit of happiness is burning/ For happiness is right on the way". [Source: Chloe Xin, Tibetravel.org tibettravel.org]
Early Tibetan Music
Before the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet in the seventh century, the Bön people lived according to a societal hierarchy, including chieftains, shamans, tradesmen, and musicians. A belief system based upon the veneration of ancestors and the appeasement of spirits was central to this pre-Buddhist society. Instruments such as the skull drum (damaru) and the thighbone trumpet (rkang dung) played crucial roles in this early religion. [Source: National Music Museum, University of South Dakota ^|^]
In addition, secular folk music abounded. Street musicians were pivotal to the celebration of any festival. Prior to the convergence of Bön and Buddhist traditions, the folk music of Tibet and Nepal developed virtually unimpeded by the stricter customs of the monastic ensemble; i.e., the musical consort used in ceremony within the numerous Buddhist monasteries throughout the region. ^|^
In the seventh century, the addition of Buddhism, migrating north from India, to the already lively native Bön traditions of the Tibetan tribes resulted in a complex hybrid rich in folklore and ceremony. The shamanistic customs of the Bön mystics, steeped in ancestor worship and spirit appeasement, combined with the teachings of the Buddha, yielded a multitude of deities and spirits comparable to those of ancient Greece and Rome. ^|^
Tibetan Overtone Singing
Some Tibetan singers can sing three notes at the same time. Others can sing with two different voices that sound like a male and a female singing at the same time. Most employ a method of overtone singing. Overtone singers are men who appear to produce two notes simultaneously. One sound is like the metallic warbling of a juice harp, the other sound is like a moaning growl. Also known as Khoomei singing or throat singing the sounds are made by carefully controlling the larynx, mouth and abdominal muscles. Some of the songs are meant to imitate the noises made by sheep and goats.
Overtone singing is performed almost exclusively by men. The style is believed to have originated in western Mongolia. Many overtone singers continue to come from there. Explaining how the style began, one singer told National Geographic, "In the western part of our country there are many mountains and streams. The herder is there. He wants to imitate nature — how the wind blows, how the water gurgles." Overtone singing is also performed by the Tuvans of the Altai region and Buryiats of Siberia in Russia. The best singers are said to come from Tuva.
The simultaneous sounds are made by manipulating harmonics, Normally harmonics are the sound given to a note that help us differentiate between a violin and trumpet playing the same note. In overtone singing, the harmonics are louder than the drone from which they are derived. Melodies are produced by altering the harmonics of a given note. Some think the style may have been developed by Tibetan Buddhist monks who produce similar sounds when they chant sutras.
See Separate Article KHOOMEI (THROAT SINGING): SINGING TWO TONES SIMULTANIOUSLY factsanddetails.com
The Tibetan female singer Yunchen Lhamo appears on Peter Gabriel's Real World label. The multi- instrumentalist Nawang Khechog has toured the world with the Beastie Boys and was nominated for a Grammy award. Dadon Dawa is another Tibet singer known in the West.
Lhobsang performs Tibetan-language rock songs. During performances fans come on stage and drape white scarves around his neck. He told the Times of London. “I sing about Tibet. I sing about what I love. The only songs I can’t sing are about our sun, the Dalai Lama.
In 1995, a recording called "Sister Drum," featuring Tibetan monks chanting Buddhist scriptures, did well on the World Music charts, selling some 200,000 copies in Taiwan and performing well outside of Asia. Featured on the album is Zhu Zhequin, a strong- and high-voiced female singer from southern China who has been compared with the Icelandic pop star Bjork.
Among the recommended Tibetan and Himalayan music recordings are: “Perfect Jewel: Sacred Chants of Tibet” (Rykodisc), featuring monks, sometimes accompanied by bells, cymbals and blasts from long trumpets; “Rough Guide to Music of the Himalayas”, included chanting from monks and nuns, a variety of music from Tibet, Ladakh, Nepal and Bhutan, along with electronic collaborations with Western artists; and “Freedom Chants from the Roof of the World”, a world music recording released in th 1989 featuring the Gyuto monks from Tibet, who can singe three notes simultaneously. It was recorded when they came to North America.
Tibetan Hip Hop
“Fly” by the Tibetan hip-hop duo ANU was very popular among Chinese in the late 2010s. Bill McGrath, a scholar of Tibet and Chinese religions, wrote in SupChina; “ANU is a pair of young men from Nangchen County in Yushu Prefecture at the southern tip of Qinghai Province. Payag ( Bāy ) and Gönpa ( Gōngbā) moved to Beijing after studying art and music in western China and released their first EP, ANU, in 2016. ANU is an abbreviation for Anu Ringluk, which literally means “Youthism.” In the modern world of Tibet, already filled with established -isms such as Buddhism, socialism, and capitalism, ANU provides a fresh sound for a new generation… “Fly” has already captured the hearts of ANU’s fans in their hometown of Yushu as well as the rest of China. Last year they won an “innovation award” at the Tibetan, Qiang, and Yi Original Music Award Show, and this year they entered the Chinese national stage by competing on the popular TV show Singer 2019. [Source: SupChina, December 9, 2019]
Sonam Tseten is a hip-hop dance fan from Lhasa. According to Xinhua: In 2003 he entered Hebei Normal University, where he organized dance lovers, all of whom Tibetans, to form a group which they called "Golden Peak." "Many Tibetan temples have golden peaks," Sonam Tseten said. "I wanted the name to be Tibetan." They trained regularly, and performed in pubs to earn money. Three years later, they won a hip-hop dancing championship in Hebei Province, and came second place for the whole of China. [Source: Xinhua, July 23, 2011]
After graduation, he went back to Tibet, where he formed another group, the "Dynasty of Tibet." In his spare time, Sonam Tseten taught kids hip-hop moves in 2011. He and his fellow instructors had now about 60 students at that time, with the youngest being seven years old. "In Tibet many children love hip-hop because they say 'it's cool,' but some of their parents were opposed to it at first. They considered the dancing outfits too strange," he said.
Sonam Tseten said his great grandfather was a general of the 13th Dalai Lama, and his great grandmother was from a noble family. "I have strong religious piety," he said. Each time before a dancing contest, he said he prays in front of a Buddha. Sonam Tsetsen sometimes composes dance himself. "I deliberately add some Tibetan elements to it," he said. "For instance, I use Tibetan music, and alter the traditional Tibetan robes into dancing costumes." His group hosts hip-hop dancing contests among Tibetans that includes. groups from the neighboring Qinghai Province and groups from Sichuan."
Tibetan and Himalayan Musical Instruments
Natural brass horn: Conically shaped descendent of the thighbone trumpet, always of metal, usually brass, and typically larger. Stylized sea dragon (makara) in brass repoussé on bell. The sea dragon is viewed as a beast of great power and tenacity, symbolic of the cyclic nature of water and of human existence. [Source: National Music Museum, University of South Dakota ^|^]
Buffalo horn (ngeku): Water buffalo horn with applied cuffs and fittings of copper and silver. Coral and turquoise stones embellish the metalwork. Sea dragon (makara) head with ears, nose, mouth, and horns. Traditionally used by members of the Nepali musician caste to entertain aristocratic Buddhists living in Nepal. Survives today in the music of street performers and in local festivals. ^|^
Lute (tungna): Body carved from single piece of wood. Waisted resonating chamber with goatskin belly. Carved wooden makara finial. Gut strings. Played with small, attached plectrum. One of smallest examples of lutes used by Newari people living in northeastern Nepal. ^|^
Shawms (rgya gling): Double-reed woodwind instrument with hardwood body and copper and brass bell and mouthpiece fittings. Blue and red colored glass embellishments. Acts as primary melodic voice in monastic ensemble playing. Removable pirouette facilitates the technique of circular breathing, which allows musicians to play extended passages. ^|^
Ritual Tibetan Buddhist Musical Instruments
Traditional Tibetan instruments used in religious music include bamboo flutes, human thighbone flutes, conch shells, cymbals, hand drums, bells, oboe-like flageolets, conch shell trumpets, drums made of two skull halves placed back to back, four-meter-long tonqin horns, dama drums, like those used in rituals at Potala Palace in Lhasa, biwan (a two-stringed fiddle made of ox horn popular in Kham areas) and the Zhannian six-string zither.
Musical instruments used in rituals includes horns, flutes, cymbals and drums. The gya-ling is a horn made from a hardwood bore, such as teak or black rosewood. It is a type of flute instrument derived from Indian tradition and named Gya-Ling with reference to its source. It is highly decorated with an elaborate, gilded copper, bell-shaped trumpet end, and a reed mouthpiece with a small resonator made of beaten metal. It has seven holes at the front and one at the back, quite similar to the Western recorder and its wooden bore is decorated with copper wire, coiled between each holes. Like the long horns, the Gya-Ling is also played in pairs. [Source: namgyalmonastery.org \=]
The short Tibetan horn (kang-ling) is another type of flute ritual instrument that bears same name as the human thighbone trumpet, yet as a monastic instrument it is usually made from beaten brass like long horn, but much smaller in measurement. It is highly decorated with a makara head near the horn end. Its mouthpiece is either rounded like the thighbone trumpet, or has a circular lipped mouthpiece. It is also plays in pairs and is used in both peaceful and wrathful rituals. \=\
Tibetan Drums and Cymbals
The choe-nga (ritual drum) is used for both monastic rites of peaceful and wrathful deities along with other ritual instruments. There are a few types of ritual drums, such as the ceremonial drum, the large drum and the small drum. These ritual drums are decorated with silk scarf and paintings. A pair of wooden sickle-shaped drumsticks is use for beating these drums and the drumstick has a padded skin tip and handle. \=\
Frame drums (dhyangro) are made of wood and have goatskin drumheads and ornately carved wooden handles with sea dragon head (makara) and three scepters of power. Red wax seals are attached to base of handle. Employed by faith healers and shaman to invoke the spirits of the heavens. A fetish sealed inside the drum adds variety to each stroke of the long curved cane beater. Board of Trustees, 1986. ^|^
The sil nyan and bub (two types of cymbals) are important ritual instruments used for both peaceful and wrathful ritual ceremonies. The smaller of “sil nyan” is flat with a low central boss, which are held vertically when playing. The larger “bub” are held horizontally and mainly used in the rites of wrathful deities. Both kinds of cymbals have cloth handles issuing from their centres, and are played with clashing, rolling, rotating, and muting techniques. \=\
Cymbals (rol mo): Two bronze cymbals with large central knobs. Thin leather handles strung through hole in center of knob. Used to provide structural outline and rhythmic articulation to ritual chant. Played horizontally by striking faces together. Handle of blue brocade with gold-thread embroidery attached to cymbal through hole in center of knob. ^|^
Finger cymbals (ting shags): Two spun-silver cymbals with the mantra, Om Mani Padme, in Tibetan characters on the underside of each cymbal. Eight auspicious symbols circle the top of each cymbal, in low relief. Used in personal meditation and offerings. Usually played by gently striking the outer edge of cymbals together, while horizontally positioned. ^|^
Tibetan Bells and Sings Bowls
A singing bowl is a musical instrument that produces sound when it is struck, scraped or shaken. An inverted bell-like structure, it comes in various sizes. The smaller bowls produce delicate sounds while the larger bowls make deeper tones. Usually, a mallet is used to strike the bowls. Chanting and sound are an important component of meditation and healing and thus bowls can used in spiritual purposes. It is said that the sounds that the bowls produces give energy that is used to join the broken frequencies of soul, body and mind.
The most common method of making a singing bowl is hammering a flat metal sheet by at least three people into a bowl shape. The edges are bent and hammered until they are smooth. Such bowls can also be made by pouring molten metal in a mold. The neck of the bowl is welded to the bowl. After this it is polished. The bowls produce resonant longer-lasting sound and often decorated with enamel adornments.
Hand bell (dril bu): Two-piece, copper-based alloy construction with an iron clapper. Bells play an integral part in monastic ensembles, sounding either continuously or in short deliberate bursts. Five-pronged handle representing the central axis of the universe and the four cardinal directions. Held in the left hand, "of wisdom," in combination with the sacred scepter. [Source: National Music Museum, University of South Dakota ^|^]
Human and Skull Drums
Human thighbone flute Skull drum (damaru): Hourglass-shaped drum constructed of two inverted skull caps, symbolic of the joining of the female and male elements of life. Silver band, ornamented with coral and turquoise stones, connects the two halves. Played by rotating, causing the swinging beater to strike each head. Mantras were often written on the interior of drums such as these. Held in the right hand, the "hand of method," the skull drum is an example of the synthesis of tradition that took place between Bön and Buddhist spirituality. [Source: National Music Museum, University of South Dakota ^|^]
The National Palace Museum, Taipei has an āmaru Skull hand-drum with case made in Tibet, during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). According to the museum: It is stored in a leather case, the inside of which is lined with white stain and carries an inscription in Chinese, Manchu, Mongolian, and Tibetan scripts. According to the inscription, the hand-drum was originally housed in the Potala Palace and was used by the Second, Third, and Fifth Dalai Lamas. The hand-drum was modelled after an Indian drum brought to Tibet by Gyalwa Karmapa during the Ming dynasty. The āmaru hand-drum is made from male and female skull bones, with the joint reinforced with a metal hoop. The leather drumhead is painted with dragons and flowers. Attached to the metal hoop are two yellow oval cotton woven mallets, and hanging from the mallets are five-colored ribbons decorated with red coral, pearls, lazurite, and yellow tresses. [Source: National Palace Museum, Taipei, npm.gov.tw]
The āmaru, an object held by various deities and used by Tantric practitioners, is a two-headed hand-drum made of two human skull caps, one from a 16-year-old boy and the other from a 14-year-old girl. The drumsticks and handle decorations are also made of human bone, and the drumhead is made of human skin or monkey skin. A male user must carry the drum in his right hand to make the "sound of great bliss," but a female user must carry it in her left hand and simultaneously ring a ghanta (bell) to make the "sound of emptiness."
When the āmaru is shaken, both sides of the drum sound together, symbolizing the union of male and female, method and wisdom, and expressing the idea that nothing ever truly begins or ends. The drumheads of this āmaru hand-drum are decorated with the Dharma Wheel and wish-fulfilling jewels in red and black, and the waist is decorated with a five-colored tassel. It is housed in a lacquered box, inside which is a note saying that it was worshipped at the Yongningsi Monastery and held by the Changkya Khutukhtu.
Human Thighbone Trumpets
Rrkang gling (type of thighbone trumpet): Two-section, collapsible horn with stylized sea dragon (makara) bell opening. Constructed entirely of silver, with interwoven foliage design. Very narrow passage at mouthpiece, along with unusual telescoping configuration and attention to detail, suggests that this instrument was a presentation piece for a dignitary or, perhaps, for placement in the hands of a temple deity. [Source: National Music Museum, University of South Dakota ^|^]
Another example of a rkang gling has a slightly curved copper body with brass fittings with an irregular bell opening in form of stylized sea dragon (makara), brass embellishments on edge of mouth. Metal trumpets like this allow for greater articulation and volume in ensemble playing. A third example of a rkang gling has a brass body with hollow, perforated knob, and a silver flame ornamentation on mouthpiece, knob, and bell. Thighbone trumpets constructed of metal produce a more audible, piercing sound than those of bone, allowing them to be heard above the characteristic drone in the monastic ensemble. ^|^
Rkang dung (type of thighbone trumpet): Bone with pieced leather bell cuff. Ball joint of femur has been removed and the end smoothed. Marrow canals of bone form natural air passage. Employed by shaman of the Bön tradition for rituals and feast day observances; usually held in the left hand, "of wisdom." Another example of a rkang dung has the bone wrapped in brass wire, finished with repoussé brass work on the mouthpiece and bell. Encased bell prominently features a sea dragon (makara). Single white coral mounted on bell cuff. A third example of a rkang dung is made of bare bone with simple metal wrapping. Ball joint removed, forming the mouthpiece; the knee-joint, slightly altered, acts as a double-bell. Its characteristic simplicity mirrors the life of the clerics who play it. Usually paired with the skull drum (damaru).^|^
Conch Shell Horn
The kar-dung (conch shell horn) has survived as the original horn trumpet since time immemorial. Ancient Indian epics describe how each hero of mythical warfare carried a mighty white conch shell, which often bore a personal name. Tibetan Buddhism absorbed the conch as a symbol which fearlessly proclaimed the truth of the dharma. Among the eight symbols, it stands for the fame of the Buddha’s teaching, which spreads in all directions like the sound of the conch trumpet. [Source: namgyalmonastery.org \=]
Traditionally, the conch is used in Tibetan Buddhism for various ritual purposes; such as for ritual instrument during the prayer ceremony, for making offering, for ritual auspicious symbol and so forth. During actual ritual ceremony, it is played in paired with other ritual instrument. Ancient Indian belief classifies the conch into male and female varieties. The thicker-shelled bulbous one is thought to be the male (purusha), and the thin-shelled slender conch to be the female (shankhini). Additionally, there is a fundamental classification of conch shells occurring in nature: those that turn to the left and those which turn to the right. Shells which spiral to the right in a clockwise direction are a rarity and are considered especially sacred. The right-spiraling movement of such a conch is believed to echo the celestial motion of the sun, moon, planets and stars across the heavens. The hair whorls on Buddha’s head spiral to the right, as do his fine body hairs, the long curl between his eyebrows (urna), and also the conch-like swirl of his navel. \=\
One example of a conch shell trumpets (rag gshog-ma) from of Reting Monastery, not far from Lhasa is made from a Left-turning conch shell. It has 1) brass construction with copper trim; 2) applied turquoise and coral embellishments; 3) braided cloth with a delicate white sacred scarf (khata), symbolic of purity and charity; and 4) green and red silk pieces symbolic of the sense of touch. Played in pairs, contributing to the drone. Another example of a rag gshog-ma is made from a right-turning shell. It has an attached brass wing and elongated posterior rod. Repoussé on the wing depicts a sea dragon (makara) and the eight auspicious symbols. Brass wing lengthens the cavity, producing a lower pitch, as well as serves a decorative function. [Source: National Music Museum, University of South Dakota ^|^]
The conch shell itself one of the eight auspicious symbols. It proclaims the teachings of the enlightened ones. Another kind of conch shell trumpet—the dung dkar—has an exposed shell with a silver medallion of the Two Fishes, one of the eight auspicious symbols, and red coral mounted at the center of medallion. The mouthpiece is formed by removing tip of the spire. Natural spiral of shell creates channel for air to pass. Coral and conch shells are highly prized items of trade in Tibet, as they represent the far-removed exoticism of the ocean. ^|^
Dung-Chen (Long Horn) and Telescoping Horns
Some ceremonies and festivals feature Tibetan horns, encrusted with silver, gold, coral and turquoise ornaments. Some monks play long Swiss-style horns, known as dungchen, that can reach a length of 20 feet and collapse like telescopes for easy carrying. The notes produced by the horns are long, slow, low and deep and have compared to the sound of mooing cows. They are sometimes accompanied by drums that make a dull, resonant almost ringing sound.
The dung-chen (long horn) is a unique Tibetan traditional ritual music instrument made from brass, also known as rag dung in Tibetan. According to tradition, this ritual instrument was introduced in A.D. 1040 by Atisha, one of the great Indian Buddhist Masters, who was invited by Lha-Tsun Jang Chup-Woe to preach Buddhism in Tibet. Always played in pairs or a group, a Dunch-chen is around three to four meters in length. For portability, it is fashioned of four or five separate sections which telescope into each other. It can be carried on the shoulders and is often played rooftops to alert villagers and spirits alike of upcoming feast days. [Source: namgyalmonastery.org]
The dungchen is used in Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies. One of the most widely used instrument in Tibetan Buddhist culture, it produced a sound compared to the singing of elephants. Tsultrim Allione wrote: “It is a long, deep, whirring, haunting wail that takes you out somewhere beyond the highest Himalaya peaks and at the same time back into your mother's womb.” [Source: Wikipedia]
Smaller telescoping trumpets (zangs dung) are played in ensembles They have collapsible copper bodies to facilitate transport. One example has applied brass fittings in finely detailed repoussé depicting the eight auspicious, or sacred, symbols, in addition to seven different Buddha scenes, showing the stages of enlightenment. Another example is ornamented with red coral and turquoise stones, with repoussé brass cuffs and bell garland. Played in pairs, usually serving as a drone element in monastic ensembles, with occasional florid melodic passages. Ringley Fund, 1977. [Source: National Music Museum, University of South Dakota]
Rag–dung (Tibetan Cloisonné Trumpets)
Kenneth Moore of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “Among the instruments associated with Tibetan Buddhism are rag-dung, long trumpets played in pairs for morning and evenings calls to prayer, preludes, and processions. The Tibetan word dung means "shell," and when used alone or followed by dkar it refers to a conch-shell trumpet. When combined with other qualifying words, it denotes different types of trumpets, as with rkang-dung ("femur trumpet"), rag-dung ("brass trumpet"), and dung-chen ("large trumpet"). [Source: J. Kenneth Moore, Department of Musical Instruments, The Metropolitan Museum of Art ]
“Tibetan-style long trumpets were among the many instruments made in China and sent as gifts to impress officials of bordering nations like Tibet. By the Ming dynasty, the rag-dung may have been used in court rituals, as the elegantly decorated examples illustrated here attest. It was rare for musical instruments to be enameled; cloisonné was more often reserved for containers like boxes or vases. These Tibetan-style long trumpets, one depicting an imperial five-fingered dragon chasing a "jewel" and the other lotus blossoms and scrolls (1989.33, 1989.33), were among the many instruments made in China and sent as gifts to impress officials of bordering nations like Tibet. Such gifts were not uncommon in East Asia and on occasion even the musicians who played them were sent as part of the gift. This political custom promoted the dissemination of musical and often political ideas. Like many Asian trumpets, the conical tubes comprising the instrument are collapsed within each other for easy transport.”
Image Sources: Purdue University, Atlanta Chinese Dance Company, Save Tibet, Kalachakranet.org
Text Sources: 1) “ Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Russia and Eurasia/ China “, edited by Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond (C.K.Hall & Company, 1994); 2) Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, kepu.net.cn ~; 3) Ethnic China ethnic-china.com *\; 4) Chinatravel.com\=/; 5) China.org, the Chinese government news site china.org | New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Chinese government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated September 2022