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Mawangdui Tomb 1, Se (Wooden se, twenty-five stringed se)

Well preserved. Made of wood. The se consists of a surface board and a bottom board, and is rectangular. The surface board of the se is slightly curved. The head and tail-end of the instrument are painted with black lacquer. The bottom board underneath the surface board is around 1.0cm thick. The two boards are fastened with bamboo nails. There are two sound holes located at the two ends of the bottom board. The 25 string holes are placed on the right hand side of the bridge at the head of the se. There are three end bridges; the middle one has 7 string holes on its left whereas the other two each have 9 string holes on their left. The 4 wooden posts for the strings to wrap around are on the left of the strings holes by the end bridges. The heads of the posts are made of silver. Each of the 25 strings is comprised of 4 plain threads which are wound to the left. At the tail-end of the se, two dark-red silk bands divide the nearside and farside strings. The ends of the bands are wrapped around the posts. Each string is supported by an arched wooden pillar underneath. To string the instrument, a butterfly knot should be tied at the head of each string. The strings should then be threaded through the string holes and strung over the bridge at the head of the se. The strings travel across the main body of the instrument and then over the tail-end bridge. From there, they go inside the instrument and then out again from the sound hole at the bottom of the se. Finally, the strings are placed over the tail-end and wrapped around the posts in four groups. From the farside to the nearside, the numbers of strings wrapped around the 4 posts are 6, 6, 6 and 7 respectively. The two dark red silk bands are tied between the sound hole and the posts. The ends of the bands are wrapped around the posts. The se was crudely made. There is no wear on the body of the instrument. There is a small piece of wood hanging off at the edge of the first string hole near the sound hole at the tail-end. Based on this, it is believed that nobody played this instrument after the strings were put on. It is speculated that this se was newly made, and was just being used as a burial object. However, the construction of this se is quite complete. The silver heads of the posts are carved with swirl patterns.

  • Measurements:Length: 116.0cm, width: 39.5cm, height of the middle section: 10.8cm, height on the sides: 8.5cm, the bridge at the head is 40.4cm long, 1.0cm wide and 1.0cm high. There are three end bridges; the middle one is 11.0cm long and the other two are 14.0cm long. There is a rectangular-shaped cover that was excavated along with this se. This cover is made of a single-layered silk fabric which is of red and cyan colours. The hem of the cover is made of silk and is of smoky grey colour. The cover is 133.0cm long and 45.0cm wide. The end of the cover is stitched up and shaped like a sack, so that the tail-end of the se can fit inside. The stitched part is 33.0cm long and the side of this sealed part of the cover is 21.0cm high. The rest of the cover is left open and has a height of 34.0cm.