Date: 19th century
Geography: Guangzhou (Canton), China
Medium: Wood, ivory, bone, gut
Dimensions: L: 94.2 cm (37-1/16 in.); W: 22.5 cm (8-7/8 in.); D: 4.7 cm (1-13/16 in.)
Credit Line: The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number: 89.4.52
The term pipa has been known since the 3rd century B.C. It originally described the playing motion of the right hand: p'i, "to play forward" (left), and p'a, "to play backward" (right). In addition to its use in the opera and in story telling ensembles, the pipa has a solo repertoire of highly programmatic, virtuosic music.