Chinese wind instrument (lusheng)

Made in Southwest China, 1980-1995.

The Chinese people have a strong musical culture with documentary evidence and artifacts dated as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1122BCE-256BCE). Traditional music is generally played on solo instruments or small ensembles of plucked and bowed stringed instruments, flutes, various cymbals, gongs and drums. Bamboo pipes and qin (fretless stringed instruments) are among the oldest known instruments in China. The lusheng is a free-reed mouth organ played to celebrate harvests or to worship their ancest...


Wind instrument (lusheng), bamboo / wood / cotton, maker unknown, Southwest China, 1980-1995

A wind instrument with a varnished finish featuring a hollow rectangular shaped base made in wood with six bamboo pipes of varying lengths inserted through the middle of this base. The pipes each have a finger hole and there is a small piece of cloth patterned in red, black and white tied around the largest pipe. A further length of bamboo is attached to the wooden base with a tapered carved mouthpiece at one end.


885 mm
40 mm


Traditionally instruments in China are categorised by the material they are made from, such as skin, gourd, bamboo, wood, silk, earth/clay, metal and stone. The lusheng made primarily from bamboo, belongs to the class of free-reed instruments which also includes the mouth organ, accordion, harmonium, organ and other mechanical instruments. The lusheng is played to celebrate harvests or to worship their ancestors by the Dong, Hmong, Miao, Yao, Zhuang and other ethnic minority groups of the south western region of China.

The lusheng comprises a base, pipes, a reed and a sound box. The base is rectangular in shape and commonly made of pine or fir wood and is hollowed out to insert the pipes which are glued into position. The pipes, made of white or speckled bamboo are generally bound by thin bark or bamboo strips in two rows of four, six or eight pipes and inserted in the base at an angle. The tapered end has a mouthpiece also made of bamboo. The tongue cut into the pipe is almost the same width as the hole causing it to vibrate freely when air is blown into the upper end of the tube or a mouth-hole in a wind chest. The size of the pipes can range in length from 1/3 metre to 3-4 metres giving variations in pitch. Traditionally, the lusheng was played as a solo instrument or in small ensembles at festivals and village celebrations.

During the 1950s, the Chinese government sponsored innovations to the lusheng including the addition of more pipes increasing the ability to play more complex music, metal tubes affixed to each pipe to increase resonance and a set pitch allowing the lusheng to be played with other tuned instruments. The amended lusheng is now a concert hall instrument.


Gift of Nicholas Jose, 2007
23 July, 2007

Cite this Object

Chinese wind instrument (lusheng) 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 November 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Chinese wind instrument (lusheng) |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Store 2 at the Museums Discovery Centre.
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