Chinese flutes with more than two-thousand years of history

September 10, 2013

The most popular flutes in China are the Dizi and the Hsiao (Xiao), which rhymes with “cow”. I wrote about the Dizi—which is a transverse flute—in a previous post.

The Hsiao is longer than the Dizi and is used to play classical Chinese music and solo music. The Hsiao has eight holes for fingers.  The other two Hsiao flutes are the Dong Hsiao from Southern China with six holes for the fingers and the Qin Hsiao, which is used mainly to accompany the ancient seven-string Chinese zither.

Xiao Solo by Zeng Gege – Mooring by the Autumn River at Night

Chinese flutes with finger holes have been traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).  These flutes have been made from the bones of birds or animals, from stone and jade. the Dizi became common later in the western region of the Han Dynasty.

If you enjoy listening to Chinese music, you may also enjoy the Chinese opera.

Discover Chinese Yu Opera with Mao Wei-tao


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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