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Source: China State Council Information Office 3

A visitor looks at konghou exhibits on display at the National Museum of China in August.[Photo provided to China Daily]

What is the most enchanting music in the world? For 15-year-old Gulzeper Muhtar in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, it is the sound of konghou, an ancient plucked string instrument.

Konghou, which is shaped like a harp, is said to have been introduced into the Chinese hinterland via Xinjiang during the prime period of the ancient Silk Road. It was all the rage in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) over 1,100 years ago, with many poems and murals depicting the unique instrument.

“The sound is so heavenly that I feel like a fairy when playing the konghou,” says the junior high school student in south Xinjiang’s Qiemo county, which is known as the home of the instrument. It is where one of the oldest konghou relics in China was discovered.

It was love at first sight. Gulzeper Muhtar was impressed by the konghou when she first saw it being played in 2015. The county had invited a renowned Beijing-based player to promote the traditional Chinese instrument that can produce both Chinese and Western music.

She then started to learn to play the konghou to “live up to being a Qiemo local”.

Located on the southern rim of China’s largest desert, Qiemo was a stop along the ancient Silk Road. It used to be a poor county with limited means of boosting economic activity. As China’s anti-poverty campaign swept the country, more parents could afford to buy their children the konghou, which is priced at about 30,000 yuan ($4,488).

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