Origin and development
The ''xiqin'' is believed to have been developed by the , a - or -related ethnic group living in the Xilamulun River valley in northeast China.
The ''xiqin'' first appeared in China during the Tang Dynasty, during which time it was used in the palace orchestra and bowed with a bamboo stick. It was further developed in the Song Dynasty, when it began to be bowed with a horsehair bow.
In 1105, during the , the instrument was described as a foreign, two-stringed lute in an encyclopedic work on music called ''Yuè Shū'' by the .
The ''erxian'' used in ''nanguan'' music is similar in construction to the ''xiqin''. The Korean ''haegeum'' is also very similar in shape to the ''xiqin'' from which it is derived; in fact, its name is simply the Korean pronunciation of the same Chinese characters.