Ancient Chinese musical instrument fetches record price

A traditional stringed instrument made for Chinese emperor Song Huizong in 1120 has been auctioned off in Beijing for a record 136 million yuan (nearly R140 million), state media said today.

The seven-stringed guqin, a zither-like instrument which came to represent the refined tastes of China’s imperial court, was auctioned on Sunday by Poly International Auction, the Beijing Times reported.

Bidding for the wooden instrument inlaid with gold, silver, deer antler and pearl began at 16 million yuan, the newspaper said.

The final purchase price was a record amount for the auction of an ancient guqin, it said.

The instrument’s value was further enhanced with an engraving of the seal of Qing dynasty emperor Qianlong in 1742.

After disappearing from the imperial collection about the time of Qianlong, the instrument later resurfaced at the Summer Palace, which was sacked by a joint French-English military expedition in 1860, the paper said.

Recovered by a Beijing collector at the beginning of the 20th century, the imperial guqin was acquired in 1953 by Fan Boyan, a Shanghai musician, who hid the instrument, the paper said.

Poly International Auction refused to reveal the name of the buyer.

Increasingly wealthy Chinese are buying more and more of the nation’s antiquities amid rapidly rising prices. A piece of calligraphy on silk more than 1 600 years old sold last month for about 45 million dollars.

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