Qin exhibited at the ShosoinRobert H. van Gulik said about this qin ... is probably the oldest in the world ... in his essay On Three Antique Lutes which is also an appendix of his book The Lore of the Chinese Lute. On the basis of deep analyses, van Gulik thought we could assume with some confidence that this qin was made in the yi hai (乙亥) year of the Wei (魏) period (435 or 495). Whatever the case, this qin is maybe one of the most beautiful qins one can admire. While antique zithers usually show no other decoration than their inscriptions, this qin is covered on all sides with beautiful and complex designs in inlaid gold and silver.
Picture copyright by Imperial Household Agency
The qin was placed in the collection of Treasures of the Shosoin (Shoso-in homotsu 正倉院寳物) in 817. The Shosoin was built in 752, as the chief treasurehouse of the Todai-ji (東大寺), the famous old temple.
The information provided here is based on the article by Robert H. van Gulik On Three Antique Lutes