In Imperial China, a well-educated scholar was expected to be skilled in the four arts of qin (the guqin zither or, lute), qi(chess), shu (calligraphy/litterature), and hua (painting). This elegant combination is often employed for decorative purposes on porcelain, textiles etc.
The Guqin is a seven-stringed zither and the oldest Chinese string instrument with more than 3000 years of history. Its invention is traditionally ascribed to Fuxi, the first legendary emperor of China. The name Guqin is said to be derived from the Chinese word qin for "prohibit", since its sound "restrain and check all evil passion".
Since the Guqin has historically been viewed as the symbol of Chinese high culture, today only a few people in China can play it.
If you want to hear Wang Fei play Ping Sha Luo Yan (Wild Geese Descending on the Sandy Beach) on a guqin zither, click here.
Interesting external link: Wang Fei's homepage
North American Guqin ASSN