Canton, Kwangtung (Guangdong) province, China: two seated musicians. Photograph by John Thomson, 1869.
- Thomson, J. 1837-1921.
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Two seated musicians. They both hold stringed instruments: the 'southern lute' and 'Taiwan harp'. Both instruments were originally from Central Asia. They have been present in popular local singing performances throughout southern China, especially in Guangdong and Hong Kong, since the 19th century. Such performances were seen in a wide range of venues, from brothels to the homes of the elite, and they were always performed by blind musicians. In addition to traditional themes, the musicians often provided improvisations on current affairs and local life. These two musicians were hired for festival celebrations. As Thomson observed, wandering minstrels were a Chinese institution: in most cases the musician was blind, but might be accompanied by a sing-song girl, who tuned his lute and sang simple ballads to his music