19th C. Chinese Stringed Instrument

Value (2013) | $3,000 Auction$7,500 Insurance

This is, I believe, an Asian guitar, or shamisen, that was used for ceremonial teas. It was left in the home that my family moved into in 1964 here in Detroit.

This is a late 19th-century Chinese example of a three-stringed instrument. The Chinese name is a sanxian, san for three. These were used for tea ceremonies, banquets, beautiful young women would play these. The reason this is actually an interesting piece is the fact that this was a functioning string instrument. Many of these produced in the 20th century were folk pieces, never to be played, never to be used, and simply a decorative object. Westerners often call the wood used a rosewood or a blackwood, a Chinese name would probably be a hongmu, it's a form of Chinese hardwood. This is a wonderful rosewood veneered to the soundboard, which is clad in snakeskin. This is a long piece of tropical hardwood. The fingerboard's inlaid with a stylized vase, floral sprigs, and then at the very top, a fu or chu bat surmounts the fingerboard. These tightening rods have wonderful stylized lotus leaves and pods at the end, with ivory caps. These are little details that the folk art pieces, the 20th-century examples, don't have. There are some losses, there are some chips, there's some age cracking which is a humidity issue, overall it's quite intact. We come to value, do you have an idea of what it may be worth?

Absolutely not.

OK, a conservative auction estimate would be between three and five thousand dollars. And an appropriate insurance value would probably be about 7500 dollars.

OK, wow.

Appraisal Details

PKR Antiques & Fine Art
West Palm Beach, FL
Appraised value (2013)
$3,000 Auction$7,500 Insurance
Detroit, MI (June 01, 2013)

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