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Meicun Hometown of Erhu

The 'Erhu' capital of China

(wndonline.cn)Updated: 2020-04-26

Wuxi's most famous product is one that bears a stark contrast to its sweet cuisine - a traditional Chinese music instrument that is loved for its sorrowful, melancholic sound.

It is one of the art and cultural centers in China's Jiangnan region (the area south of the Yangtze River). So, it comes as little surprise that Wuxi's most famous product - the erhu (a two-stringed bowed instrument) - is related to the field music

Such is the city's reputation for crafting the instruments that it was officially recognized as the "Land of the Erhu in China" by the Chinese Musicians Association in October 2011.

Also known as the Chinese violin in the West, the erhu comprises a long neck with two tuning pegs located at the top and a sound box partially covered with snake skin at the bottom.

Typically made with either redwood, rosewood or black sandalwood, the erhu produces a hauntingly beautiful sound that typically evokes a sense of melancholy among listeners.

Most erhu makers in Wuxi are based in Meicun, a quiet town northeast of the city center that is said to have more than 3,200 years of history as a vibrant arts-and-culture hub.

According to officials, the town's links with the erhu date back to 1965 when the first folk-music workshop was founded there.

Chen Shasha, a prominent young erhu player from Meicun, says there are now about 20 erhu makers in the town who produce a combined total of about 50,000 instruments every year, accounting for between 25 and 30 percent of the market share in China.

In December 2010, the town was given the title of "Land of Erhu Craft in Jiangsu Province" by the Jiangsu Folk Literature and Art Association. The next year, Meicun's erhu-making process was included on Jiangsu province's list of intangible cultural heritage.


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