Early Chinese people invented an interesting musical instrument while hunting wild animals! Meet the enchanting Xun!

Xun is one of the oldest musical instruments in China and has been in use for about 7000 years.

The History of Xun

The origin of this musical instrument goes back to the Stone Age. During that time, early Chinese people often tied a stone or a mud ball to a rope and hunted wild animals. Some of those balls were hollow and they could make sounds when thrown. Therefore, they thought that they could make a musical instrument from them. This is how they invented the unique musical instrument we call Xun today.

Archaeologists found the earliest example with one blowing hole in Zhejiang province. Then, they learned that it dates to about 5000 BC.

Also, the common graves of Xia dynasty which is the first dynasty in traditional Chinese history contain vessel flutes like Xun. However, Shang dynasty after Xia dynasty developed the Xun as we know it today.

By the Zhou dynasty, it was a common instrument and people in imperial courts played it. Since Chinese people consider it as the best instrument to perform a heartbreaking tone, they played in palace music to make music about sorrow.


According to the oldest surviving Chinese encyclopedia Erya, there are two types of this instrument. One of them is large and its shape is like a goose egg. Its bottom end is flat and it has six holes. So, it produces lower pitches. The other one is small and its shape is like a chicken egg. So, it produces higher pitches.

Xun (Instrument)

Xun can produce all the tones and half-tones in a single octave. It is a musical instrument that produces sound by causing a body of air to vibrate. In fact, it resembles an ocerina. Therefore, it is an aerophone. Also, it is one of the oldest vessel flutes since its body acts as a Helmholtz resonator.

See Also

Xun Brittanica Page

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