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Wooden musical instruments part of life, afterlife in ancient China

News Release — 17 February 2009


Media contact: Teresa Newton, (817) 272-7078,

ARLINGTON - String, wind and percussion musical instruments played various roles in ancient Chinese rituals, warfare, life and afterlife, according to a new book by Ingrid Furniss, an assistant professor of art and art history at The University of Texas at Arlington.

"Music in Ancient China: An Archaeological and Art Historical Study of Strings, Winds, and Drums during the Eastern Zhou and Han Periods (770 BCE-220 CE)" analyzes an often disregarded aspect of early Chinese music, the role of strings, winds and drums. The book is published by Cambria Press.

Such wooden instruments survived in ancient tombs less often than bells and chime stones, Furniss said.

Other revelations are that wooden instruments, only when combined with bells and chimes, were in the wealthiest tombs. Alone, the string, wind and percussion instruments were in tombs from the modest to the wealthy.

Ingrid Furniss is assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at University of Texas at Arlington. She holds doctorate and master's degrees in Chinese art and archaeology from Princeton University, as well as a master's in Asian studies from Washington University, a certificate in museum studies from University of Washington, and a bachelor's degree in Asian studies from University of Puget Sound. 


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