Name: Geomungo.
Type: Chordophones > Simple > Zithers > Tube > Half.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#:
Era: Goguryeo Kingdom.
Tuning: D# / Eb, G# / Ab,  C ,  A# / Bb,  A# / Bb and A# / Bb tuned an octave lower then central tone.
Country: Korea.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The geomungo [in Hangul: 거문고 also romanized as komungo, kŏmun’go, hyeongeum, hyongum or hyŏn’gŭm whose name literaly translates to “black zther”. It is a fretted zither beloning to the half tube category of the zither family in the Hornbostel-Sachs system of classification. Sholars believe that the name refers to Goguryeo and translates to “Goguryeo zither” or that it refers to the colour and translates to “black crane zither” [in Hangul: 현학금 hyeonhaggeum, in Hanja: 玄鶴琴].

This painting titled “Women Playing Geomungo” by Shin Yun-Bok or by pen name “Hyewon” [in Hangul: 거문고 in Hanja: 玄琴: Shin Yun-Bok]
History: The instrument originated circa the 4th century Anak Tomb No.3 infra – through the 7th century from the kingdom of Goguryeo. The northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, although the instrument can be traced back to the 4th century.

According to the Samguk Sagi [in Hangul: 삼국사기 Samguk Sagi ; literal translation, The Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms circa 1145. The geomungo was invented by prime minister Wang San-ak by using the form of the ancient Chinese instrument guqin [gogeum, also called chilhyeongeum. Literally “seven-string zither”]. After his death, the instrument was passed down to Ok Bogo, Son Myeong-deuk, Gwi Geum, An Jang, Cheong Jang and Geuk Jong, while being widely spread over the kingdom.

An archetype of the instrument is painted in the Goguryeo tombs. Archetype of the instrument is painted in Goguryeo tombs. Geomungo are found in mural paintings in the tomb of Muyongchong and Anak Tomb No. 3.

Citations: Bibliography: According to the Samguk Sagi [in Hangul: 삼국사기 Samgugsagi ; literal translation ; The Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms [in Hangul: 삼국의 연대기 samgug-ui yeondaegi] circa 1145 ; Websites:

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