The Chinese zither, called guqin, has existed for over 3,000 years and represents China's foremost solo musical instrument tradition. Described in early literary sources and corroborated by archaeological finds, this ancient instrument is inseparable from Chinese intellectual history. Guqin playing developed as an elite art form, practised by noblemen and scholars in intimate settings, and was therefore never intended for public performance. Furthermore, the guqin was one of the four arts - along with calligraphy, painting and an ancient form of chess - that Chinese scholars were expected to master. According to tradition, twenty years of training were required to attain proficiency.
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