Also:       naobo      naoba      

Title: demo: Chinese jingbo; Wu Baofu, jingbo. Format: DV.

Contextual Associations

The jingbo is a concussion idiophone of the cymbal type of the Han Chinese. ‘Bo’ is the generic term in Mandarin for cymbals of any size, and the prefix ‘jing’ reveals both its regional affiliation (Beijing) and its predominant musical context (Beijing opera). Its sound can sometimes be used dramatically to symbolize water. In addition to this primary context, it is also found in some regional forms of instrumental ensemble music and in Buddhist music. The jingbo, along with other traditional cymbals and gongs, has also been incorporated into the percussion section of the modern Chinese orchestra.


The two halves of this instrument are made from a copper, zinc and tin alloy called xiangtong (resonant copper) and are identical in size and shape. Each half of this instrument has a thin, broad and flat rim with a slight upturn at its edge. At its center is a hemispheric bulb the width of which is approximately half the total diameter of the cymbal. At the apex of the bulb is a small hole through which is threaded a loop made from a strip of rawhide. The loop serves as a handle and is secured by a knot tied inside the bulb.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The jingbo player holds one cymbal in each hand by their handles and propels their flat rim surfaces against one another with varying degrees of energy. The cymbals can be made to sound at different dynamic levels in this way, although in general they are played loudly and allowed to ring freely after a strike. This ringing is occasionally muted immediately after a strike by pressing the rims of the cymbals against the player’s body. In Beijing opera performance practice the jingbo is sounded in combination with the xiaoluo, daluo, paiban, and bangu to perform labeled rhythmic patterns called luogudianzi (‘gong and drum rhythmic patterns’), which are used to accompany dramatic stage action such as flamboyant entrances, battles, and acrobatics.


Thrasher states that cymbals were introduced to western China from central Asia around the 3rd century CE and were in use in the central plain of China by the Tang dynasty (7th - 10th centuries CE) (Thrasher, p. 32) Little has changed in the form of bo in general relative to early forms of these instruments.

Bibliographic Citations

Hsu, Tao-Ching. 1985. The Chinese Conception of the Theatre. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Liang, Mingyue. 1985. Music of the Billion: An Introduction to Chinese Musical Culture. New York: Heinrichshofen.

Thrasher, Alan R. 1984. “Bo [bo] (i).” NGDMI v.3: 32.

________. 2000. Chinese Musical Instruments. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Instrument Information


Continent: Asia

Region: East Asia

Nation: China

Formation: Han

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

111.142 idiophone--cymbals: vessel clappers with everted rim are struck against each other

Design and Playing Features

Category: idiophone

Energy input motion by performer: clapping

Basic form of sonorous object/s for idiophone: plate - with concentric contouring

Sound objects per instrument: two sounded collectively

Resonator design: sonorous object itself is a general resonating space

Number of players: one

Sounding principle: concussing - direct

Sound exciting agent: colliding sonorous objects

Energy input motion by performer: clapping

Pitch of sound produced: indefinite pitch

Sound modification: none


7.5 in. diameter

Primary Materials


Entry Author

Roger Vetter, Toby Austin