Progress in the guqin building project has been steady but slow. I had made and set the pearl inlay, and they all ended up looking very nice. Then, I applied many clear coats of finish. Also, I drilled holes for the tuning cords. This all took place last week.
I have been apprehensive about doing the final carving. First, I wanted to compose the best names for the instruments—appropriate for each instrument while matching the others. For the guqin with the shape known as 落霞 (luoxia, descending crimson clouds), I settled on 秋水長天 (Autumn Water with Broad Sky, which refers to the colorful horizon of sky and water). This alludes to the phrase 落霞與孤鶩齊飛，秋水共長天一色 by 王勃. For the guqin shaped as a banana leaf (蕉葉, jiaoye), I named it 夜雨芭山 (Evening Rain on Banana Mountain). This includes a play on words of the poem 夜雨寄北 by 李商隱: 君問歸期未有期，巴山夜雨漲秋池。何當共剪西窗燭，卻話巴山夜雨時。 The poet refers to 巴 (wish); this is a homophone to 芭 (banana).
After obsessing about the wording and finally settling on something suitable, I started carving today. It’s much more time consuming that I thought. So, progress is slow but steady.