Chinese instrument similar to the mandolin. The Ruan was once known as the Qin Pipa (dating to the Qin dynasty between 221-207 BC) or Yue Qin ( moon mandolin). The Ruan is now constructed as a family of Xiao Ruan ( soprano ruan), Zhong Ruan ( alto ruan), and Da Ruan ( bass ruan), a development intended to increase its range and effectiveness in the modern Chinese orchestra. A plectrum is needed in performance. Mellow in tone quality, it is often seen in ensembles, and also as a solo instrument in recent years.