08 May 2019
Sanxian, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) CMTA Collection

The sanxian – literally “three strings” – is a Chinese lute common to Cantonese opera. Its three strings are plucked along a long, fretless fingerboard, which resonate across a box stretched tightly with snake skin. Traditionally, a player would pluck the strings with a thin, hard piece of animal horn, but today most players use a plastic pick or their fingernails.

The sanxian’s sound is percussive and loud, almost like a banjo, and its most similar cousin is the Japanese shamisen, which derived from the sanxian itself. While the sanxian used to be one of the most popular Chinese folk instruments, especially for accompanying voice, today the approximately 2,000-year-old tradition is facing extinction. The sanxian is usually an accompanying instrument that lacks many solo pieces so it is often excluded from Chinese orchestras and seldom taught at conservatories. Those factors along with its high entry cost have cause dwindling interest in the instrument in favor of more popular and user friendly instruments. MOCA’s Chinese Musical Theatrical Association (CMTA) Collection includes a number of rare musical instruments such as this one, among other costumes, photographs, props, and related documents.



Countdown to the TCS NYC Marathon on November 3, 2019: 216 Days.

2019年是美国第一条横贯大陆铁路建成150周年,为了纪念第一批华人来美建设这条铁路所做出的巨大贡献, MOCA将其2019 TCS NYC Marathon的活动命名为 MOCA Spike 150 – Running Forward With Our Stories! 鼓励大家通过马拉松公益跑,全国线上接力,以及一天一个故事的方式讲述150个华人的历史故事,敬请大家持续关注, 讲出华人自己的故事,回顾过去,立足现在,展望未来,共同书写美国历史,使之更加充实完整。

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