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The Song Shi Jian Yi imperial guqin, which is an ancient string instrument made during the Song Emperor Huizong's reign and has the imperial inscription of the Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty, was auctioned off for 137 million yuan after intense bidding during an autumn auction hosted by Beijing Poly International Auction Company on Dec. 5, setting a new world auction record for ancient musical instruments.
The guqin is increasingly popular on the auction market. On Nov. 15, the "Yu Shu Tang" guqin, which was made in the late Ming dynasty and once played by the Emperor Qianlong before being stored in the Confucius mansion, was sold for 58 million yuan.
Collectors showed great interest in the Song dynasty guqin during the night auction hosted on Dec. 5. The guqin, which had an estimated price of 20 to 30 million yuan and a starting price of 16 million yuan, was finally bought by a collector for 137 million yuan after dozens of bidding rounds.
Ms. Wu, who represents the Auction Market Department of Beijing Poly International Auction Company, said that this was the first time that the auction price for a domestic guqin topped 100 million yuan. It set a world auction record for not only guqins but also all musical instruments.
The "Song Shi Jian Yi" guqin was made for the royal family in Dongjing (modern-day Kaifeng), capital of the Northern Song Dynasty, in 1120. It is praised as "a rare treasure in the heavenly palace." It is a standard guqin, with its upper board made of the Chinese parasol tree Firmiana simplex and its bottom board made of Catalpa ovate. Lacquer from the Chinese lacquer tree was applied to the surface of the guqin, mixed with deer antler powder, gold and silver grains, and cinnabar. The guqin is large and long, and is half-moon shaped inwards or outwards in several parts.
Beijing Poly International Auction Company said that the guqin was handed down and kept in the Hall of Ten Thousand Guqins in the Imperial Storehouse in the late Northern Song Dynasty. It was also persevered well in the following dynasties. The Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty asked a craftsman to carve an inscription on the guqin.
It was later lost from the Old Summer Palace and secretly kept by Zhang Lianfang in his storehouse named "Jiaoye Shanfang" in Beijing in the late Qing Dynasty. Fan Boyan, a well-known guqin player in Shanghai, spent a large amount of money buying the guqin and kept it until now.