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CHINESE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. 147
the best of musical stones. In carving and ornamentation they require most skillful manipulation lest the pitch be endangered.
Under the Han dynasty a most harmonious king was presented to the emperor. The designs traced upon the stones were not quite satisfactory to that potentate; on endeavoring to alter slightly the fashion of the stones, the pitch of the instrument was irrevocably lost, and its harmonv destroyed forever.* The king has from time immemorial been played by striking the stones with a stick or mallet of hard wood. The skill of the player is shown in the degree of shading he can impart to the tones, by varying the force of his blows. Of all instruments, the Chinese claim that the king blends best with the human voice. The entire Chinese chronicles teem with praises of this peculiar instrument. Confucius was thrown into ecstatic bliss on hearing it for the first time. The musical work entitled Li-ki says: "the harmonious sound of the king invites the sage to think of the end of life. When he hears it, he thinks of death, and fortifies himself in his love of duty." But this passage refers only to the great king made of Yu (the finest melodious stones), which was only played on great religious occasions; it is not singular that this instrument should be associated with religious thoughts. There were other kinds of kings which were used on lesser occasions. In the imperial palace; were several of
* The chronicle says " it was mute forerer," but thia was meant a) hyperbole.