called Kanhou, is an ancient plucked stringed instrument in China. There
are mainly three kinds of Konghou: one is played lying flat, one is
played upright and another one is the phoenix-headed Konghou.
As early as the Spring and Autumn
(770-476BC) and Warring States (475-221BC) period, there appeared the rudiment
of Konghou played lying flat in the Chu Kingdom in southern China.
Konghou was originally used in
Yayue (court music), and was used in Qingshangyue (a music genre) in the
Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). It was used in Yanyue (music played in court
banquets) in the Sui Dynasty (581-618), and gradually prevailed among the
ordinary people and in places inhabited by ethnic minorities.
played upright appeared in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) and got popular in
the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties. It was generally played in rites
The phoenix-headed Konghou was
introduced from India to the Central Plains of China in the Eastern Jin Dynasty
(317-420), and was prevalent in the Sui and Tang Dynasties.
Konghou, with its sweet tamber and wide
diapason, can be used to play not only cantus but also chord and has many
advantages in both solo and tutti performances. It was an indispensable
instrument in China's ancient royal courts. From basso-relievo in the Yungang
Grottoes of Datong and Dunhuang murals we can see persons playing Kouhou.
This shows that Kouhou playing was very popular in China a long time
|A mural of Konghou played upright in the Northern Wei
Dynasty (386-534) found in the No. 431 Grotto of the Dunhuang