Chinese Cultural Music "Gu Zheng" in Thailand


  • Rujee Srisombut Faculty of Fine Arts, Srinakharinwirot University


Chinese traditional music, Gu Zheng, string instrument


The research entitled “Chinese Cultural Music “Gu Zheng” in Thailand” is a qualitative research which aims are 1) to study the history and features of Gu Zheng, 2) to study the role of Gu Zheng in Thai society, 3) to study institutes that offer “Gu Zheng” lessons, and 4) to improve the educational process of the subjects, coded MUE 311 and FA 523 using the results of the research. The results found are as follows:

Gu Zheng is a Chinese musical instrument with a long history and various beliefs as to its origin. According to Chinese history, it is believed that Gu Zheng was created during the era of Emperor Qin Shi Huang by developing an ancient local musical instrument of the Qin region known as “Gu Qin”. However, Gu Zheng went missing due to several wars during the Emperor Qin Shi Huang era. Later when peace was restored, a number of arts reformations were initiated. Gu Zheng once again became a part of Chinese society. Gu Zheng has been constantly developed and spread, and now it is widely known in China and abroad.

Gu Zheng is a 21-string plucked zither. Each string is tied to a post at the head, and stretched across the body to the other end where it is tied to another post. These posts are also used to tune the strings. Each string of Gu Zheng is supported by a bridge on the body. The length of a Gu Zheng is around 160 cm, the width of the head and the end is around 33 and 29 cm respectively, and the height of the body of Gu Zheng is around 7 cm. The body of Gu Zheng is made of wood covered on both sides and the bottom by wooden slabs keeping the centre of the body hollow as a resonating box. A set of 3 holes are pierced on the bottom slab in the centre and either side to propagate the sound made. The head and the end of Gu Zheng is often crafted and decorated with pearls or jade stones.

Gu Zheng has a role in Thai society, even though learning Gu Zheng is still not among the list of music learners’ preferences. It is restricted to those who are really interested because of the limited availability of the instruments, few teachers and steep price of the instrument. Gu Zheng is not included in the Thai education curriculum, so students only learn from private schools or private teachers. From a religious perspective, Gu Zheng is played in some rituals but it is not essential because it is difficult to find the players and the instrument is hard to move. Therefore, çKhimé, is played instead. Gu Zheng has been used as a bond in international relations between Thailand and China, especially since Professor Dr. HRH Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol became interested in Gu Zheng. This has made the relationship between Thailand and China more profound. On the economic front, a rise in people playing Gu Zheng has seen Gu Zheng classes being taught in several musical institutes in response to society’s needs. There is also an increase in the Chinese musical instrument business, Chinese language and Chinese calligraphy which has boosted the economy. Thailand and China has had a great relationship for a long time. It is not difficult to see the harmony between the musical culture of Thailand and China. Gu Zheng of China can play many Thai pieces, highlighting the cultural blend in Thailand. Institutes that offer “Gu Zheng” lessons from the research:

Luang Pradit Pairoh Foundation 47, Setthasiri Road, Samsennai, Phayathai, Bangkok, Thailand 10400 Tel: (662) -279-1509

Oriental Culture Academy 87, Charatmueang Road, Rongmueang, Pathunmwan, Bangkok, Thailand 10330 Tel: (662)-216-2826-8 Fax: (662)-216-2829

Silapabunlaeng School Sena Nikhom 1, Phahonyothin 32, Phahonyothin Road, Chankasem, Chatuchak, Bangkok, Thailand 10900 Tel: (662)-9419914-6Fax: (662)-941-9918

Suteerattanachaisangkeetsil School 12/33, Moo.11, Latphrao-Wanghin Road, Latphrao, Bangkok, Thailand 10230

Nonthasin Ngamwongwan School 619/4142, Ngamwongwan Road, Bangkarso, Mueang district Nonthaburi, Thailand 11000

Nonthasin Tiwanon School 37/3, Prinyaluck, Samakkhi Road, ThaSai, Mueang district Nonthaburi, Thailand 11000

Gu Zheng is a part of the teaching and learning, MUE 311 (bachelor’s degree) and FA 523 (Master’s degree), of the Music Education Department, Faculty of Fine & Applied Arts. The students are competent, more practical and their experience of music has increased both in theory and practice. Today, Thai people are more interested in Gu Zheng. Private schools have started Gu Zheng courses and have hired Chinese teachers to teach the instrument. At the same time, Thai teachers are gaining knowledge of Gu Zheng and can compose music for the instrument. This shows the interweaving cultures of Thailand and China. As a result of this cultural spread, the people are free to apply it to benefit their own culture and society.




How to Cite

Srisombut, R. (2015). Chinese Cultural Music "Gu Zheng" in Thailand. Fine Arts Journal: Srinakharinwirot University, 18(2), 218–224. Retrieved from