Asian-European Music Research Journal (2020-12-01)

A Study of Musical Instrument Pictographs on Zuojiang Huashan Rock Arts

  • [黄羽], Huang Yu

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6
pp. 1 – 16


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The Huashan Rock Arts represent the rock pictographs in the Zuojiang River Basin. They record the unique sacrificial scenes by Luoyue people from the 5th century BC to the 2nd century AD. Historical materials, unearthed cultural relics and existing folk customs all prove that the distinguishable musical instrument pictographs on the rock arts include bronze drums, sheep-horn knob bells, ling (small bells with a clapper), etc. All of these also explains why these musical instruments appear on those pictographs, further emphasizing the importance attributed to them on dividing the history of the rock arts into certain periods. This study has found out that after the Western Han Dynasty, the sheep-horn knob bells gradually lost the function of ceremonial and musical instruments due to the destruction of the rite system, thus withdrawing from the historical arena. On the other hand, the artisanship of bronze drums has become more and more exquisite, highlighting its three-fold use for rites, rituals and musical instruments. The drums also continue to occupy a significant part of the music history of the Luoyue ethnic group. Through an in-depth study of the musical instrument pictographs, the music history of the Luoyue is further, clarified and understood.