The Ancient Yue – 9,000 Years Old

October 3, 2010

Music in China is traditionally associated with ritual observances and government affairs.

In 1999, Chinese archeologists unearthed what is believed to be the oldest know playable instrument – a seven-holed flute fashioned 9,000 years ago from the hollow wing bone of a large bird.

To establish the age, a U.S. chemist at the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory analyzed data from carbon-14 dating done in China on materials taken from the site.

The 9,000-year-old flutes were “exquisitely-crafted” from the wing bone of a red-crowned crane.

Music from the Book of Songs

In the Book of Songs, an ancient collection of Chinese poetry from the 6th century BC, the three-hole Yue is the most frequently mentioned wind instrument.

By the Tang Dynasty, the Yue had all but vanished.  Source: China Daily

Discover more with The Hsiao (Xiao) – Chinese Flute


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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