Daxing’s Guqin Culture Sees Bright Future
What is Guqin?
According to Shihchi (Factual Records), Qin was invented in China no later than the Period of Yao and Shun. It was renamed as “Guqin” (a.k.a. ancient qin) when western musical instruments were introduced to China at the beginning of the last century. Daxing District has a long history of Qin culture.
Guqin from Jixian County Recovering from Downturn
Daxing District was Jixian County in ancient times, named after the region of Jicheng City. The county was first formed in the Pre-Qin Period by the Yan State in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period. Historic records on Qin were noted from that time, as observed in the fashion among men of letters that “one does not stop playing Qin without a reason”.
In modern times, as the Chinese traveled around the world, Guqin became an emblem of oriental culture in the eyes of westerners.
But in the wars and social transitioning of the late Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China, due to limitations of the instrument itself, Guqin culture was on the verge of extinction.
In the early 1980s, after establishment of the People’s Republic of China, we saw the emergence of the Beijing Ethnical Music Instrument Factory, the best and largest state-owned manufacturer of musical instruments. A Qin-Zheng-Se instrument reform taskforce, appointed by the central government, was operating in the factory with a mission to reform, restore, and promote Guqin. Their works have been widely sold all over the world.
At the beginning of the 1990s, the factory was demolished during a period of transitioning of social and market systems. After the demolition, Qin-makers working with the factory were dislocated all across the nation, with many of them having to take other jobs. It was the beginning of a period of recession for the Guqin-making industry in Daxing.
Emergence of Guqin Culture in a New Time
Today, as Reform and Opening-up deepens, the Guqin-making industry has reemerged in Daxing District. Masters from the instrument factory have started their own business as Guqin studio owners and manufacturers.
According to incomplete statistics, Daxing District now has Wang Peng’s Guqin Culture Center, Wu Zhenyu’s Dongyu Shop, and over 10 manufacturers including Shu Shan Qiu Yun Factory and Zhang Yiqiu’s Factory, all known for making cost-effective instruments. The district hosts more than half of the qin-making businesses and professionals of the city, and leads the nation in productivity, quality and reputation.
Jun Tian Fang Guqin Culture and Art Promotion Company Limited, located in Wei Shan Zhuang County, was listed among the Beijing Municipal-level Intangible Cultural Heritage Units in 2009, and elected as a National Cultural Industry Demonstration Base in 2010.
Attracting the best performers of Guqin, Rong Da Bao Xuan Art Gallery, a window of high arts located in Daxing District’s Guanyin Street community, is a central hub where local manufacturers exhibit their best products, and a base for Guqin culture promotion and education.
The gallery hosts a number of Guqin-playing masters, and accommodates the International Guqin Health Association that has a membership of over 50.
A Bright Future to Come
To facilitate wider access to the art of Guqin, Daxing District hosts Guqin promotion events and the Southern Beijing Guqin Joint Exhibition. It also organizes lectures and Guqin appreciation performances, and launches events such as “High Art on Campus”. Particularly for the younger generations, the district hosts ad-hoc “Guqin Friendship” events. Jun Tian Fang and Rong Da Bao Xuan offer both for-profit and not-for-profit training in order to promote the Guqin culture to more people.