A traditional stringed instrument made for emperor Song Huizong in 1120 has been auctioned off in Beijing for a record 136 million yuan (HK$158 million).
The seven-stringed guqin, a zither- like instrument, which came to represent the refined tastes of China’s imperial court, was auctioned yesterday by Poly International Auction, the Beijing Times newspaper reported.
Bidding for the wooden instrument – inlaid with gold, silver, deer antler and pearl – began at 16 million yuan.
The purchase price was an auction record for an ancient guqin, it said. The instrument’s value was further enhanced with an engraving of the seal of Qing dynasty emperor Qianlong in 1742.
Recovered by a Beijing collector at the beginning of the 20th century, it was acquired in 1953 by Fan Boyan, a Shanghai musician, who hid the instrument.After disappearing from the imperial collection about the time of Qianlong, the instrument later resurfaced at the Summer Palace, which was ransacked by a joint French-English military expedition in 1860.
Increasingly wealthy Chinese are buying more and more of the nation’s antiquities amid rapidly rising prices. A piece of calligraphy on silk more than 1,600 years old sold last month for about US$45 million (HK$351 million).