wooden fish | Ancient Chinese Culture

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Wooden Fish – Mu Yu

Wooden fish, also called Mu Yu or Chinese block sometimes, is a wooden percussion instrument in ancient China.

Originally, it was used by Buddhist priest to beat rhythm when they were chanting scriptures. It got the name of wooden fish because it is carved with fish scales on its top, and a carving of two fish heads embracing a pearl on the handle which symbolizes unity. In Buddhism, the fish symbolizes wakefulness as it will never close their eyes when they are sleeping. Therefore, the image of fish is used to remind the monks to be concentrated when they are chanting.

There are various sizes of wooden fishes, ranging from 150 millimeters to 1.2 meters, used from daily practice to usage in temples. The sound can be different due to the difference in the size, type of wood used, and how hollow the wooden fish is.

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