Yuping Flutes

Yuping Xiao(vertical) & Dizi(horizontal) Flutes
Yuping flutes (horizontal and vertical) are produced in the "Home of Flutes" --Yuping County in Guizhou Province, southern-western China. Yuping flutes have a history of over 400 years. Yuping flutes are treasures among Chinese flutes. In Ming and Tsing dynasty Yuping flutes were designated tributes to the palace. So they are also called "Tribute Flutes". In the 50s and 80s Yuping flutes have been valuable presents selected by Zhou En-lai and Deng Xiao-ping respectively.


International Awards Receieved
Yuping flutes are traditional Guizhou brand-name products that have won international prizes. These elaborately carved flutes made of local bamboo, which has longer solid joints of even thickness, produce a clear and beautiful sound.
Yuping Flutes are the first Chinese folk music instruments to receive international awards:
1913-London World Crafts Exhibition -- Silver Award
1915-Pacific Expo in San Francisco (Commemorating the opening of Panama Canal)--Gold Award

 

The Legend of Yuping Xiao & Dizi Flutes

There is a legend that hundreds of years ago, a man surnamed "Zheng"in Yuping met a Taoist monk called "Deer Skin Fairy"when he was hurrying for an elite exam. They became best friends. One day, the Taoist monk picked up a piece of bamboo from the mountain and made a xiao flute. The sound of his flute was extraordinarily touching. Later the Taoist monk had to leave for another place. Before he left he taught this friend Zheng the techniques of making xiao and dizi. From then on the Zheng family began to make and sell Yuping flutes. This might have been the origin mentioned in a poem: "A fairy came to Yuping and left aound ancient melodies".


About Yuping Bamboo
Yuping masters select the bamboo materials seriously. Yuping flutes have to be made with a kind of local bamboo called "Xui Bamboo". This kind of bamboo grows along streamlets in shaded areas of Yuping hills. The bamboo is characterized by its long and slim body, as well as smooth and evenly distributed nodes. The bamboo wall is thick, hard and elastic, thus less likely to be broken and less vulnerable to worms than other bamboo.
The time of cutting the bamboo is also strictly controlled, generally done two months after early spring. Bamboo cut around this time is the best because the percentage of water and sugar contained in the bamboo is the lowest, then flutes would not easily get cracked or get moulded.
The making process is extremely rigorous. There are more than twenty procedures from cutting bamboo to finally carving dragon- phoenix patterns and poems.

 

Artistic and Musical Characters of Yuping Flutes
Normally the bamboo flutes are around 70 cm. Premium bamboo tubes are elliptic. Fingering holes are also elliptic in shape. Hole rims are cut 25 degrees towards the interior. The sound of Yuping flutes is clear, pure, mellow and tender. Traditional Yuping flutes are elaborately carved with the motifs of flying dragons and phoenix, landscape, as well as flowers and birds.

 

There are two typical pairings of Yuping flutes

1. Paired Masculine (Dragon) and Feminine (Phoenix) Yuping Xiao Flutes:
The masculine xiao flute is bolder in form while the feminine xiao is slimmer. The sound of the masculine xiao is deeper and stronger while the feminine one is more mellow and sentimental. This will give the impression of the harmony of two lovers singing together.
2. Paired Dizi (Masculine) and Xiao (Feminine) Yuping Flutes:
The sound of dizi is stronger, featuring masculine character. Usually the dizi is carved with two dragons playing with pearl. The sound of xiao is tender, symbolizing feminine character, so normally xiao is carved with flying phoenix.