Erxian The erxian – literally “two strings” – is a Chinese bowed string instrument used primarily in Cantonese music. It has two strings running along a hardwood neck which are traditionally bowed with a hard bow made of thick bamboo. Some erxian are topped with ornately carved dragon heads. After the development of the lighter, more approachable gaohu in the 1920s, the erxian became less popular and has since been played almost exclusively in Cantonese operas, where it usually accompanies singing.

While still a staple instrument of Cantonese opera ensembles, modern erxian players have adapted the instrument with steel strings and lighter erhu bows instead of using the traditional heavy silk strings and unwieldy hardwood bows.

The strings are made of silk and the wooden sound box is the shape of a drum, with one side covered by a wooden sound board made of paulownia. 2 pegs are on the stick’s right side. The horsehair used in the bow is soft, and the stick is made of bamboo root. It is a soft instrument, with an unusual, thin tone. It must be played with the right hand.