The musical instrument Manwuyan

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

If you wondered what exactly a Manwuyan was, you weren't alone - not by a long shot - but apparently it is the oldest (or claims to be) playable instrument in the world and is permitted by the Chinese Cultural Heritage Administration to be played only five times a year, with its first, last, and only tour of Seoul to be held from Nov. 11-15 of this year before it gets designated as a national treasure:

Here's a snippet from The Korea Times on the instrument as well as the Seoul tour:

Those interested in a novel musical ― and historical ― experience will have a chance to hear the Nanzhao Classical Music Ensemble revive an ancient sound at Coste Hall in Myeong-dong Cathedral's Cultural Center, central Seoul. This is a truly unprecedented occasion, for the relic has rarely traveled within China.

When it was unearthed in 1998 in Yinnan Province, the manwuyan was in almost immaculate condition, being immediately playable despite minor damages by rodents. Several string instruments have been excavated so far, but none of them functioned. Verified as originating from the late 12th century, the manwuyan is the world's oldest playable instrument.