The ch'in , or table-lute, lies on a table like a zither, and is played with the fingers. It is "one of the most ancient instruments, and certainly the most poetical of all.... The dimensions, the number of strings, the form, and whatever is connected with this instrument had their principles in Nature. Thus the ch'in  measured 3.66 feet, because the year contains a maximum of 366 days; the number of strings was five, to agree with the five elements; the upper part was made round, to represent the firmament; the bottom was flat, to represent the ground; and the thirteen studs stood for the twelve moons and the intercalary moon. The strings were also subjected to certain laws. The thickest string was composed of two  hundred and forty threads and represented the Sovereign." ("Chinese Music," by J. A. Van Aalst.)