Ren Hui，39, is an expert maker of Chinese guqin, the Chinese zither. He is also known as a great guqin player.
As the most ancient instrument in China, the guqin has long been a favorite of the literati, who believe it is a prerequisite for their personal cultivation, as its beautiful melodies helped to maintain a peaceful and balanced mind. Nowadays, the urheen and zheng are more popular than the guqin in China, thanks to their unique timbres. However, in 2008, the deep, smooth tone of the ancient instrument was showcased in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Ren explained. Since then, the guqin has experienced a small renaissance.
"I knew it was my instrument as soon as I heard it. It is a great instrument, but the price for one is very high," Ren noted. He still remembers that his first one cost him 5,000 RMB, which was quite a lot at the time. "I could barely afford one, so I thought, What if I make my own?"
Before long, this idea took hold. However, the process to make a guqin is very complicated. One must acquire an extensive set of skills, including woodcarving, painting, polishing and design.
The body of the guqin is made of wood,, and its strings are made of silk. In order to ensure that its tone is pure and perfect, the maker must carefully carve out the bottom little by little, adjusting until the sound is just right.
"I can only make 15 guqin each year at most. I can't rush the work just because I have to make money," Ren explained. It took Ren four years before he could make a decent guqin. Now, after 20 years of practice, his guqin sell for up to 300,000 RMB.