「修行尺八」歴史的証拠の研究   ホームページ
      'Shugyō Shakuhachi' rekishi-teki shōko no kenkyū hōmupēji -

The "Ascetic Shakuhachi" Historical Evidence Research Web Pages

Introduction & Guide to the Documentation & Critical Study of Ascetic, Non-Dualistic Shakuhachi Culture, East & West:
Historical Chronology, Philology, Etymology, Vocabulary, Terminology, Concepts, Ideology, Iconology & Practices

By Torsten Mukuteki Olafsson • トーステン 無穴笛 オーラフソンデンマーク • Denmark


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ca. 630-645: Did the Imperial Music Master
     Lü Ts'ai really Invent the "Chinese Shakuhachi"?

No, we know of no reliable proof that Lü Ts'ai, 606-665, or any possible other named person, specifically invented and manufactured any "shakuhachi flute" with actual, real finger holes, such as a "Chinese shakuhachi"!

Although it is very popular to credit the early T'ang Dynasty music master Lü Ts'ai/Lü Cai,
呂才, active ca. 627-649, with the "invention" of the "Chinese shakuhachi", the Chinese historical source being referred to, the 'Chiu T'ang Shu', 旧唐書, "Old Book of T'ang", Chuàn/Juàn/Vol. 79, dated 945, certainly only relates the term 'shakuhachi', Chinese: 'chi'h-pa', 尺八, to the set of twelve Chinese pitch pipes: 'lü-kuan', 律管, or: 'shi-er lü-lü', 十二律呂, that were in fact in existence and use at least as early as during the Former Han Dynasty, 202 BCE to 9 CE – not to a set of "12 shakuhachi flutes of differing length".

Set of 12 Chinese pitch pipes dated a. 180 BCE found at a famous, very significant burial site at Ma-wang-tui near Ch'ang-sha in Hunan Province, China.

Set of 12 Chinese pitch pipes dated a. 180 BCE found at a famous, very significant burial site
at Ma-wang-tui, No. 3 Tomb, near Ch'ang-sha in Hunan Province, China.
Picture from a special edition of the archaeological magazine Wen Wu, September, 1972.

It should be noted that the 12 pitch pipes shown above were possibly manufactured
to be part of a special Chinese Han Period type of mouth organ, namely the 'yu', .

Quotation from the "Lü Ts'ai Tradition" passage in the Old T'ang Dynasty History Book, Chuàn/Juàn/Vol. 79, dated 945 CE:


Link to the relevant Chinese source texts in question:

Lü Ts'ai Shakuhachi legend in one version of the 'T'ang-shu'

One T'ang-shu edition in the possession of the Museum of Hangzhou Local Chronicles/Hangzhou Local History Museum, China.

Bamboo pitch pipe dimensions in the T'ang-shu

Dimensions of the bamboo pitch pipes

Court music instruments list

Names of T'ang court musical instruments listed in the T'ang-shu

Clay figurines of possible T'ang Dynasty musicians

Clay figurines of possibly Chinese T'ang Dynasty musicians, the one to the left seemingly
a 'xiao'/Chinese 'shakuhachi' player, the one to the right playing a horizontal stringed zither


Here is the Lü Ts'ai shakuhachi chapter presented by the Chinese website:


















The Chinese website presents this picture of Lü Ts'ai, 606-665, on a biography webpage about him:

Court music instruments list

The music master Lü Ts'ai, 606-665 - probably a quite contemporary picture ...


Japanese musicologist Akedo Shin'ya, 明土真也, has presented this interesting conclusion of his regarding Lü Ts'ai's pitch pipes - link to PDF below:

" - - - It has thus far widely been understood that the shakuhachi was invented by LU Cai ( 呂才 ; circa 600−665)of the Tang( )Dynasty.

Therefore, the measurement of the instruments of both the Hōryū-ji Temple and the Shōsō−in was long considered to have been based on Tang-xiao-chi唐小尺)measurement, even though some of them at the Shōsō-in do not match it. - - - "

Read more here - source:

This web page may be further elaborated in the future ...

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