This instrument is known by many names but "ban" translates as "flat board", and "hu" is a "barbarian fiddle". The most common name for this instrument is the banhu which refers to its historical use in the northern Bangzi opera in the mid-seventeenth century. From them on it came to accompany many other regional operas and popular narratives, spreading over north, northwest and northeast China. The banhu can be used as a solo iinstrument or instruments that provide accompaniment, especially in opera.
Its name comes from the wooden soundboard covering the resonating chamber. Most of the other Chinese stringed instruments use python skin as the soundboard material. The instrument is about 70 cm long and is made of wood, bamboo or bronze. It has two strings made of silk or wire.
|The two strings are generally tuned a fifth, or a fourth, apart. The banhu has a strident and bight tone quality and often employs the glissando.|