c. 1850

Painted and gilded wood with ivory veneers and inlay; copper alloy frets; iron alloy strings (with one modern copper replacement)

Overall: 95.2 x 15.3 cm (37 1/2 x 6 in.)

The Charles G. King, Jr. Collection. Gift of Ralph King in memory of Charles G. King, Jr. 1918.346


Did you know?

Many paintings of Indian court life depict female musicians holding and playing this kind of lightweight stringed instrument.


In 19th-century India, small decorative lutes were produced either for either export or display. These diminutive versions of standard instruments were painted or gilded and incorporated luxury or novel materials such as ivory, silver, gold leaf, ostrich eggs, or nautilus shell. Most were playable and used on special occasions by women or children. Production of these instruments was centered but not limited to India’s Bengal region in the northeast and in Mysore (Mysuru) in the southwest where instruments were colorfully painted with Hindu deities.

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