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Annotated Checklist of Musical Instruments From East Asia
On Display at the NMM

Note:  This checklist represents only a portion of the NMM's instruments from this area of the world.

Countries and Regions Represented

Brunei
China
Hong Kong
Japan
Java
Korea
Laos
Malaysia
Mongolia
Myanmar (Burma)
Philippines
Southeast Asia
Thailand (Siam)


Specific Makers Represented

Xin Chang
De Shang Company
Ud Soepoyo
Kee Wo


Instrument Types Represented

Arched Harp
Myanmar

Bells
China
Mongolia
Thailand

Bowed Strings
China
Java
Myanmar

Cymbals
Japan
Java

Drums
China
Japan
Java
Malaysia
Myanmar
Philippines
Thailand

Flutes
China
Japan
Java

Free Reed
Mouth Organs

China
Laos
Thailand

Gongs
Brunei
China
Japan
Java
Myanmar
Southeast Asia
Thailand

Hammered Dulcimer
China

Lutes, Long-Necked
China

Lutes, Short-Necked
China
Japan

Metallophones
Java

Panpipes
Malaysia

Percussion Slab
Japan

Rattle, Sliding
Java

Slit Drums
China
Java

Trumpet, Natural
Malaysia
Thailand

Woodwinds, Double-Reed
China
Japan

Wood Blocks
China
Japan

Xylophone
Java

Zithers
Hong Kong
Japan
Java
Korea
Myanmar

Maps

Looking for a map? Link to the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin for an excellent collection of historic and current worldwide maps. Click here for their selection of maps of Asia.


Checklist

Brunei

Gong

NMM 2327. Gong by Chinese craftsman, Brunei, late 18th/early 19th century. Hanging gong with central boss. Cast from brass. Decorated with stylized flowers and animal motifs. Gongs provide the foundation for ceremonial and entertainment music across Southeast Asia. This gong was cast by a Chinese craftsman in Brunei, then traded to a group of Iban people in Sarawak, Malaysia. The Iban have a gong ensemble tradition comprising different types of gongs, gong chimes, and drums, depending upon the ensemble’s function. Board of Trustees, 1977.


China

Bells

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NMM 1258. Temple bells, China, early 20th century. Four bronze bells of graduated sizes. Dragons—symbols of pride in China—and a geometric design engraved on rim. Chinese characters for longevity, happiness, fortune, and wealth are intertwined within dragon’s curving body. Wooden beater, painted red and black, with wrapped-leather striking surface. Suspended from braided cotton cord. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


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NMM 1520. Temple bells, China, early 20th century. Five bronze bells of graduated sizes. Red, green, and gold-lacquered dragon. Geometric design on rim. Bells of this type are often hung on the eaves of temples. Suspended from braided cotton cord. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


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NMM 2427. Temple bells, China, early 20th century. Four bronze bells of graduated sizes. Black lacquer with abstract designs exposing base metal. Temple bells were commonly manufactured for the trade in East Asian antiquities. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


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NMM 10062. Zhong, China, ca. 1950. Brass bell with integral handle. Floral engraving. The bell’s rich, percussive tones punctuate ritual ensemble playing, serve as heralds for villages and city-states, and summon sleeping gods. Zhongs vary in shape and in the curvature of their openings, depending upon their intended use. Played individually or in sets suspended on wooden frames. Struck externally with wooden beater. Gift of Western International Music, Inc., Greeley, Colorado, 2001.


NMM 2433. Zhong, China, ca. 1965. Bronze bell with integral handle; red sash. Bells of this type are among the oldest instruments excavated in mainland China, dating to the Warring States Period (481-221 BC) of the Zhou dynasty. Bell production, a tradition that has continued to the present day, employs an alloy of three-parts copper to one-part tin. Played individually or in sets suspended on wooden frames. Struck externally with wooden beater. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


China

Bowed Strings:  Two-Stringed Fiddles

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NMM 1530. Erhu, China, 19th century. Two-stringed fiddle. Cylindrical wooden resonator covered with python skin. Carved back. Modern musicians often use metal strings to amplify the sound. Ex coll.: Rev. Emmons E. White, Manamadura, South India. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


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NMM 1532. Erhu, China, 19th century. Two-stringed fiddle. Cylindrical wooden resonator covered with python skin. Carved back. Strips of bamboo, passed between the silk strings, were originally used to play the erhu. The transition to a bow with horsehair occurred during the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368 AD). The traditional practice of bowing between the strings persists, despite the substitution of metal for silk strings by some modern players. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


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NMM 1533. Erhu, China, 19th century. Two-stringed fiddle. Cylindrical wooden resonator with carved back. The huqin family of stringed instruments, of which this is an example, is made in an array of sizes to accommodate the tone colors desired by the composer and musician. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


NMM 1529. Jinghu, China, ca. 1850. Two-stringed fiddle. Smallest member of the huqin family, used to double the voice in Beijing Opera, where it is favored for its bright timbre. This jinghu, with a wooden neck and bamboo resonator, differs from those traditionally made with both bamboo resonator and neck. Horsehair bow passes between the strings like the erhu. Python-skin head. The prominence of snakeskin in the manufacture of Chinese musical instruments, as well as its use for food and in traditional medicines, has resulted in legislation that mandates the use of farmed snakes in place of those captured in the wild. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


NMM 2430. Erhu, China, ca. 1950. Two-stringed fiddle. Cylindrical wooden resonator covered with python skin. Carved back. Most common member of the huqin family, whose name literally translates, "barbarian string instrument." The erhu plays an important role in instrumental and theatrical ensembles, as well as a central role in Chinese orchestras. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


China

Drums

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NMM 1236. Chinese tom by Kee Wo, Fat Shan, Canton, China, early 20th century. Shallow, double-headed barrel drum with tacked, pigskin heads. Wooden shell painted red. Heads fixed to shell using hammered brass tacks. Polychromatic painting on both heads depicting a phoenix and a dragon, symbols traditionally associated with Chinese music. Drums like this were produced in China specifically for American markets, as Chinese toms were a necessary part of early-twentieth-century trap sets. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


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NMM 2412. Chinese tom, China, ca. 1925. Decal on body: Ludwig. Shallow, double-headed barrel drum with tacked, pigskin heads. Wooden shell painted red. Heads fixed to shell using hammered brass tacks. Polychromatic painting on both heads depicting a phoenix and a dragon. Two metal rings mounted opposite one another on wooden shell for suspending instrument. Instrument wholesalers and manufacturers, such as Ludwig and Gretsch, imported drums like this for an ever-expanding American market. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


NMM 2389. Tang gu (hall drum) or huapen gu (flower pot drum) by Xin Chang, China, early 20th century. Barrel shaped. Two heads, one smaller than the other. Traditionally suspended on a wooden stand and struck with large beater. Holes in the surface of this drum’s wooden body suggest an earlier ornamentation or different drumhead configuration. Bamboo wrapping, metal tacks, and holes in the edges of the existing drumhead reveal the alternate methods used to extend the life of this drum. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


China

Flutes

NMM 4410. Qudi, China, early 20th century. Transverse, bamboo flute with bone end caps. Traditionally, a thin, vibrating membrane (dimo) is peeled from the interior of a bamboo stalk and adhered to the flute using peach sap, giving the qudi its characteristic buzzing sound. Longer flutes like this are often played in the kunqu opera, where they are called kundi. Sound is produced by blowing across the single hole to the left of the membrane. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


NMM 5594. Xiao, central China, early 20th century. End-blown, bamboo flute with notch cut into naturally occurring node. Sound produced by blowing across the notch. Flutes of this type, dating back to 5700 BC and carved from wing bones of the red-crowned crane, have been excavated in Henan Province. Xiao made of ivory, jade, bamboo, bone and porcelain have been found throughout China. Xiao may be played alone, in duet with qin or zheng zithers, or in small ensembles. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


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NMM 7441. Bamboo flute, China, mid-20th century. Combination transverse and end-blown, internal duct flute with duct window (like that found on the Western European recorder). The end designed to be played transversely is stopped with cork. Transverse and internal duct mechanisms share the same air column. There is no evidence to support the presence of internal duct mechanisms in East Asia, aside from notch flutes, prior to the twentieth century. Gift of Robert F. Cole, Montello, Wisconsin, 1998.


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NMM 7440. Dizi, China, ca. 1980-1990. Transverse, bamboo flute marked G, from a larger set. Professional dizi players often own at least seven flutes, in addition to special flutes which are to achieve extra-musical effects, such as very small dizi that imitate birdsong. The mirliton (vibrating membrane or dimo) from this dizi is missing from the uncovered hole positioned between the embouchure hole and the first tone hole. Gift of Robert F. Cole, Montello, Wisconsin, 1998.


China

Free Reed: Mouth Organ

NMM 2566. Sheng, China, late 19th century. Mouth organ with bronze wind chest, seventeen bamboo pipes and metal reeds. Pipes carved to fit in a tight cluster, traditionally associated with the wings of the mythical phoenix. Only fourteen of the pipes are playable; the others are present merely to complete the symmetry of the bird’s wings. Metal reeds are attached to the lower ends of the pipes, visible only when removed from wind chest. Small drops of wax are used to tune each reed. Chinese characters, identifying each pitch, are inscribed on interior walls of speaking pipes. Historically, gourds were used for the wind chest. Like its Western counterpart, the harmonica, the sheng plays both blow and draw notes. Board of Trustees, 1979.


China

Gong

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NMM 2437. Gong, China, ca. 1930. Hammered, bronze gong with large, flat striking area and narrow shoulders. Vegetal twine, used to suspend gong, attached through holes in top edge of rim. Typically, gongs of this size punctuate ensemble playing. This example, produced in a style similar to that of traditional gongs, but with much thinner walls, was probably manufactured for the arts and antiquities market or for Western performance. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


China

Hammered Dulcimer

NMM 2439. Yangqin by De Shang Company, Canton City, China, early 20th century. Hammered dulcimer played with two bamboo beaters. Trapezoidal, hardwood body, sometimes referred to as hudie qin ("butterfly qin") with two out-stretched wings. The yangqin was brought to China by seafaring merchants and is first documented in the coastal province of Guangdong in south China during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Historically, the character for yang has been understood to mean "foreign"; however, its meaning changed over time to be understood as "elevated" or "acclaimed." Typically mounted on an ornately carved stand. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


China

Long-Necked Lute

NMM 1432. Sanxian, China, ca. 1850. Long-necked lute. Three strings. Bent, wooden neck; resonator covered with python skin. Carved ivory tailpiece. Peghead plaque depicts garden scene. Hand-carved bat effigies on peghead and endpiece. Many cultures in Southeast Asia regard the bat as a harbinger of good luck. Floral, mother-of-pearl inlay on neck and resonator. The sanxian’s use in accompanying narrative song and as a low voice in ensemble playing has guaranteed its role in Chinese music tradition. Rawlins Fund, 1976.

Lit.:  "Gallery IV Development Underway!" Shrine to Music Museum, Inc. Newsletter, Vol. 5, No. 1 (October 1977), p. 1.

"New Gallery Being Developed at USD," Newsletter of the American Musical Instrument Society, Vol. 4, No. 3 (October 1977), p. 4.

"Documentary Film Features the Shrine to Music Museum," Shrine to Music Museum, Inc. Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 1 (October 1980), p. 2.

"Sanxian," The Music Connection, Level 7 (Parsippany, New Jersey: Silver Burdett Ginn, 1995), p. 366.


China

Short-Necked Lutes

NMM 2401. P’i p’a, China, ca. 1850. Short-necked lute. Four strings. Wooden body with ivory and mother-of-pearl ornamentation. Name literally translates "to play forward" and "to play backward." The earliest documented method for playing the p’i p’a, found in Liu Xi’s Shih Ming (Explanation of Names), dates from the Late Han Dynasty (206-220 AD). The p’i p’a name, originally referring to a variety of long- and short-necked, plucked lutes common to cultures along the Silk Road, developed into its classic form around 350 AD. Chinese folk tradition often presents the p’i p’a as an improvised instrument, created at a time of need to express the emotion of its country’s people. This is reflected in traditional p’i p’a music, which conveys epic stories through the musician’s playing technique. Experienced listeners recognize phrases conjuring images of trickling waterfalls, explosive battles, and the sound of the wind. Played vertically with finger picks or the fingernails. Beede Fund, 1978.

Lit.:  "Chinese Instruments Shown in Sioux Falls," National Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 34, No. 1 (February 2007), p. 7.


NMM 1534. Yueqin, China, late 19th century. Moon guitar. Two double-courses of strings. Ten frets. Circular, wooden body with metal tongue inside that vibrates sympathetically when instrument is played. The yueqin’s name is also commonly translated as "moon lute." Yueqin tradition dates to the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). The instrument is most often found today in Beijing opera ensembles and as an accompaniment in dance songs. Played with a plectrum. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


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NMM 1248. Yueqin, China, early 20th century. Moon guitar. Two double-courses of strings. Ten frets. Stylized, guitar-shaped, wooden body with routered edge. While the yueqin traditionally has a round body, variance in shape is not uncommon. Greater freedom in the design of musical instruments in the early 20th century, in an effort to rejuvenate once-thriving traditions, was the result of dwindling interest in traditional music, along with an increase in nationalism. Played with a plectrum. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


China

Slit Drum

NMM 1254. Nanbangzi, southern China, ca. 1850. Rectangular slit drum with hollow center and slit at top. The equivalent of the muyu, or "fish drum," recognizable by its red, black, and gold ornamentation. The nanbangzi, used to accompany Cantonese opera, is struck with a thin wooden beater. The Chinese character appearing on the paper label adhered to the front of the drum means "good fortune." Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Lit.:  André P. Larson, The National Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), p. 30.


China

Woodwinds, Double-Reed

NMM 1531. Haidi or aizai, China, early 20th century. Conical, double-reed instrument of the suona family. This smaller variant is commonly used in wedding processions. Scalloped wooden body with copper bell. Reed made of riverweed, wrapped with wire prior to insertion into the pirouette. To play, the entire reed is placed inside the mouth and the player's lips are pressed against the metal disc at the upper end of the pirouette. Musicians employ circular breathing to maintain a continuous supply of air passing through the reed. The haidi, or "sea flute," is a regular member of Chinese opera ensembles. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


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NMM 1246. Suona, China, early 20th century. Conical, double-reed shawm introduced into China from Central Asia with the spread of Islamic culture. Its name is a transliteration of the Arabic zurna. Hardwood body with scalloped exterior, possibly emulating bamboo nodes. Copper bell and pirouette. Historically favored in military ensembles for its bright tone and volume. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


NMM 5031. Guan, northern China, ca. 1950. Cylindrical, double-reed instrument, introduced in its earliest form (bili) into China from the Kuqa kingdom of Central Asia during the pre-Tang period (500 AD). Common throughout northern China among village Taoist and Buddhist practitioners. Two sizes of reeds are used to facilitate key changes, both made from riverweed. Guan reeds are much larger and thicker than suona reeds, although they are also wrapped with wire. The entire reed is inserted into the mouth, like the suona. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


Hong Kong

Zither

NMM 10032. Qin, Hong Kong, ca. 1960-1973. Hollow, lacquered wooden body with seven silk strings, each consisting of hundreds of individual silk strands. Traditionally, qin lacquers included various powdered gemstones or deer horn, as well as copper dust, in hopes of enhancing the finish and, in time, the tone. For this reason, lacquer recipes are guarded closely by qin craftsmen. The history of the qin can be traced back more than 3,000 years to the Zhou dynasty (ca. 1100-221 BC), when it was an integral part of art music. The qin (literally, "string instrument") was played in ensemble with se (a zither with moveable bridges, predecessor to the guzheng), bells, chimes, drums, and stones (specially carved and suspended to produce tones when played like bells). Later, qin playing developed into a more personal, intimate time of reflection, known now through the literary work of sages and scholars. Ex coll.: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Board of Trustees, 2001.


Japan

Cymbals

NMM 5268. Dobatsu, Japan, 1853. Pair of bronze cymbals with stamped and embossed decoration. Light brown, woven cord inserted through hole in center of each cymbal, tied with decorative knot. Circular, wooden discs threaded onto cord to facilitate holding the dobatsu while playing. According to inscriptions on the inner rims of the two cymbals, the set was donated by Ôkubo Kôzaemon Masayoshi—most likely a samurai—in honor of his deceased parents, to the Myôgen Temple in Mt. Hoyô, Japan, April 2, 1853. Purchase funds gift of Flora and John W. Larson, Vermillion, 1992.

Lit.:  "Recent Acquisitions," The Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 19, No. 3 (April 1992), p. 2.


Japan

Drum

NMM 4112. Shimedaiko, Japan, ca. 1840-1850. Double-headed, shallow barrel drum with animal-skin heads lashed to iron rims. Rims larger in diameter than the shell, a typical feature of drums of this type. Barrel shell lacquered black with floral decoration. Vegetal rope secures heads to barrel shell. Only one head, thicker than the other, is used for playing. Shimedaiko, literally, "laced drum," is the preferred drum for traditional No theater, where it is often referred to as nodaiko. Suspended horizontally on a low stand, it is played with two sticks, which have slightly beveled ends. Arne B. and Jeanne F. Larson Endowment Fund, 1987.


Japan

Flutes

NMM 7407. Ryuteki, Japan, 20th century. Transverse bamboo flute wrapped in lacquered bark strips. Interior lacquered red. Seven finger holes and enlarged embouchure hole, which facilitates the manipulation of pitch for ornamentation in performance. Its name literally means "dragon flute." Embroidered decoration embedded into left end of flute. Silk-brocade pouch in blue, purple, pink, and tan. Gift of Lorelyn Fick, Orange City, Iowa, 1999.


NMM 7432. Shinobue, Japan, ca. 1950. Transverse bamboo flute with end caps wrapped in rattan. Interior lacquered red, as is commonly found in flutes of this type made in and after the late 19th century. Shinobue are typically used to accompany performances of the traditional Japanese kabuki theater and are the flutes of choice for Japanese folk music. Gift of Robert F. Cole, Montello, Wisconsin, 1998.


NMM 1250. Shakuhachi, Japan, ca. 1950. End-blown, bamboo notched flute. Two-piece construction with visible seam between first and second finger holes. Interior lacquered red. Crescent-shaped, water-buffalo-horn insert functions as voicing edge. The shakuhachi emerged in its characteristic Japanese form in the 15th century, having been imported to Japan from China in the early 8th century. Early examples, made of jade, stone, and ivory, can be seen in the Shosoin Repository in Nara, Japan. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Lit.:  André P. Larson, The National Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), p. 30.


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NMM 6754. Shakuhachi, Japan, ca. 1960. End-blown, bamboo notched flute. Two-piece construction with visible seam between first and second finger holes. Interior lacquered black. Trapezoidal, water-buffalo-horn insert functions as voicing edge. Thick walls attributed to the use of the instrument not only for musical purposes, but also for self defense. Historically, wandering beggar monks traveled with flutes like this, playing in the streets. Gift of Robert Cole, Montello, Wisconsin, 1998.


Japan

Gong

NMM 5561. Kin, Japan, ca. 1870. Hammered-bronze bowl gong. Red-lacquered wooden stand with bronze plaque fittings and blue cushion. Gongs such as this, with openings oriented upward, are played in tandem with the temple block, or mokugyo. Rim is struck with a wooden beater wrapped in leather to punctuate Zen Buddhist temple music. In geza, the off-stage music of the kabuki theater tradition in Japan, the kin evokes temple scenes. Four feet tall. Purchase funds gift of Margaret Ann and Hubert Everist, Sioux City, Iowa, 1993.

Lit.  [Recent Acquisitions], The Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 21, No. 2 (January 1994), p. 5.


Japan

Lutes, Short-Necked

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NMM 2417. Gekkin, Japan, ca. 1850. Short-necked lute. Four strings. Circular, wooden body with three decorative, wooden cut-outs overlaid on the soundboard. Rectangular piece of python skin protects wooden soundboard from the stroke of the plectrum. Eight ivory frets, the last reinforced with wooden support. Stylized bat effigy on wooden pegbox finial. The gekkin is the Japanese descendent of the Chinese yueqin. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


NMM 1433. Biwa, Japan, ca. 1900-1940. Short-necked, pear-shaped lute with four strings. Five raised wooden frets. Two crescent-shaped soundholes above decorative strip of brocade. Green, braided tassel tied to pegbox. Biwa music and its practice was used in the training of samurai beginning in the 16th century. The legacy of the biwa, which dates to the late 7th century, nearly disappeared following World War II, as a result of the demise of the samurai tradition in Japan. Board of Trustees, 1976.

Lit.:  André P. Larson, The National Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), p. 30.


Japan

Percussion Slab

NMM 5788. Gyo ban, Japan, Edo period (1600-1867). Fish-shaped percussion slab carved from a single piece of softwood. Five feet long. Gyo ban, one of several instruments that served as signals to regulate the daily lives of monks, were traditionally hung in the bathing rooms of Zen temple monasteries. This example was once lacquered red, black, and gold. The up-turned lips hold a ball, symbolic of human desire, which is figuratively expelled each time the gyo ban is played. Struck with a wooden mallet. Purchase funds gift of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., Mitchell, South Dakota, 1994.

Lit.:  "Japanese 'Fish' a Highlight . . . 1994 Acquisitions Include Rare Pianos, Harp, Woodwinds," The Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 22, No. 2 (January 1995), p. 1.


Japan or China

Wood Block

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NMM 2436. Mokugyo or muyu, Japan or China, early 20th century. Carved, wooden slit drum, commonly referred to as a temple block. Hollow, unfinished interior. Exterior body lacquered red with black-and-gold details. The Chinese muyu is struck to invoke a sense of watchfulness since it is symbolic of a fish, which is thought to remain awake both day and night. The mokugyo, imported into Japan sometime during the 13th century, is identical to its Chinese ancestor. Slit drums like this are often paired with the kin (bowl gong) during the recitation of sutra in the Zen Buddhist tradition. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Lit.:  André P. Larson, The National Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), p. 30.


Japan

Woodwind, Double-Reed

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NMM 7408. Hichiriki, Japan, late 19th century. Reverse-conical, double-reed instrument, narrowing toward end opposite reed. The hichiriki, introduced to Japan from China no later than the 8th century, is traditionally made of bamboo wrapped in bark, bound with string, and lacquered both inside and out. Typically played in ensemble with the ryuteki (transverse flute) and the sho (mouth organ). Complete with extra reed and black-lacquered, wooden fan case, lined with decorative paper. Gift of Lorelyn Fick, Orange City, Iowa, 1999.


Japan

Zither

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NMM 2194. Han Koto, ca. 1850, Japan. Hollow, rectangular wooden body with thirteen silk strings. Han refers to the relatively short body length—nearly half the size of the standard koto—developed to accommodate travel. Decorative, wooden overlay and carved wooden legs at the end (to the player’s right), as well as decorative brocade. Pink and green tassels. Ivory nut. Although it appears plain, this instrument was produced during a time when craftsmanship, wood choice, and the elegance of simplicity was the dominant aesthetic. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.


Java

Gamelan

Go to Annotated Checklist of Musical Instruments In the Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan


Java

Metallophone

NMM 2684. Saron attributed to Java, mid-19th century. Metallophone with nine bronze bars, placed horizontally across a wooden frame, held in place with small metal nails. Frame painted blue and red, with carvings highlighted in yellow. An ensemble instrument that originally played in small musical groups for the royal courts. Today, sarons of varying sizes and ranges play in gamelans throughout Java. Board of Trustees, 1980.


Java

Sliding Rattle

NMM 1430. Angklung, Java, 20th century. Three bamboo-tube rattles set in a wooden frame. Sound produced when frame is shaken and tubes slide back and forth. Tongue segments cut from the tops of the tubes determine the pitch. This particular angklung is tuned approximately to the pitch of b/b-flat in three different octaves. Although the angklung is widely distributed across Southeast Asia, it is most prominent in Java. Traditionally played in ensembles with additional angklungs tuned to different pitches; when played together, melodies in five or seven-note tunings are possible. Angklung ensembles may be accompanied by drums and gongs. Board of Trustees, 1976.


Korea

Zither

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NMM 1244. Sanjo kayakum, Korea, ca. 1950. Plucked, long zither. Hollow, wooden body with 12 strings, each with a moveable wooden bridge. Name comes from a 6th-century clan name, Kaya, where the instrument is said to have been adapted from a Chinese long zither. Smaller kayakum (commonly known as sanjo), like this one, are commonly used in folk music. The curvature of the top facilitates rapid, virtuosic playing. Musicians use a combination of finger plucking, as well as flicking the strings with the finger nails. Board of Trustees, 1976.


Malaysia

Conch Shell Trumpet

NMM 7093. Conch shell trumpet (săng), Southeast Asia (possibly Malaysia), 20th century. Pewter extensions with geometric wave motif and sea dragon (makara). Sharply tapered posterior extension. Buddhism's spread has yielded countless variations of design and style, seen here as manifest in Southeast Asia, perhaps Malaysia or Thailand. Joe R. and Joella F. Utley Collection, 1999.


Malaysia

Drum

NMM 2329. Drum attributed to Iban tribe of the Dayaks, Sarawak, Malaysia, late 19th-early 20th century. Bowl-shaped wooden body, open at the bottom, with cow or goat-skin head attached with rattan laces. Traces of white fur on the head, which is tuned by tightening the laces. The generic term for single-headed Malaysian drums is rebana. Although their specific musical functions vary according to region, they are generally played to accompany ceremonial or theatrical songs and dances. Board of Trustees, 1977.


Malaysia

Panpipes

NMM 2402. Panpipes by Dayak tribe, Sabah (formerly North Borneo), Malaysia, mid-19th century. Ten hollow pipes of graduated lengths, cast from bronze, with a dark patina. Designs between pipes resemble a braided chain. Sound produced by blowing across the tops of the pipes and stopping, or partially stopping, the lower end with the fingers. Played solo or in ensembles. This instrument originates from a Dayak tribe, one of 450 linguistically-related indigenous groups on the island of Borneo. Beede Fund, 1978.


Mongolia

Bells

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NMM 10066, 10067, and 10068. Bells attributed to Mongolia, early 20th century. Set of three bronze, crotal (closed) bells with internal clappers. Often attached to animal’s harnesses to ward off predators, as well as to keep herds together. Gift of Western International Music, Inc., Greeley, Colorado, 2001.

Lit.:  "Beede Gallery Re-Opens; Showcases Treasures from the Great Civilizations of Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands," America's Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 29, No. 1 (February 2002), p. 7.


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NMM 10063, 10064, and 10065. Bells attributed to Mongolia, early 20th century. Set of three bronze, open bells with suspended clappers. Often suspended from tethers of beasts of burden, as well as from wooden carts, to ward off evil spirits. Evidence of wear visible on bronze ring. Gift of Western International Music, Inc., Greeley, Colorado, 2001.

Lit.:  "Beede Gallery Re-Opens; Showcases Treasures from the Great Civilizations of Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands," America's Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 29, No. 1 (February 2002), p. 7.


Myanmar (Burma)

Arched Harp

NMM 2375. Saung-gauk, Burma (Myanmar), ca. 1960. Arched harp. This highly decorative harp, formerly associated with the Buddhist dynasties that ruled Burma for centuries, is the national instrument of Myanmar. Similar harps can be seen in Burmese iconography dating back to the 2nd century AD. This example has sixteen silk strings attached to neck by red cotton tuning cords terminating in large tassels. Boat-shaped resonator (covered with deer skin) with neck carved from a root. Neck terminates in highly decorated representation of Bo-tree leaf. Decorated with pieces of mica ("Mandalay pearls"), glass, gilt, red and black paint. Stand similarly decorated. Beede Fund, 1978.

Lit.:  Gallery IV Opens November 16!" The Shrine to Music Museum, Inc. Newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 1 (October 1978), p. 1.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 3.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 56, plate XXII.

Linda Simonson, "A Burmese Arched Harp (Saung-gauk) and its Pervasive Buddhist Symbolism," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, Vol. 13 (1987), p. 39-64.

André P. Larson, The National Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), p. 28.

Ido Abravaya, "Musical Instruments," Music at First Sight II (Raanana:  Open University of Israel, 2006), cover.

"Wall Street Journal Focuses Attention on Music Museum," Arts Alive South Dakota, Vol. 10, Issue 2 (Winter 2008), p. 7.


Myanmar (Burma)

Bowed String:  Spike Fiddle

NMM 2676. Tro, Burma (Myanmar), 19th century. A hybrid spike fiddle that combines a fascinating mix of Eastern and Western elements. The hardwood body, painted black, is shaped like a Western violin; whereas the head terminates in an intricately carved Burmese dancer decorated with bits of mirrored glass, mother-of-pearl, gilt, and paint. Played vertically by a seated musician--the spike resting on the ground--using underhand bowing. The adoption and subsequent adaptation of Western instruments by various other cultures offers unique insight into the values of form and function held by different societies. Ex coll.: Eugene de Briqueville, Paris. Purchase funds gift of LeRoy G. Hoffman, Eureka, South Dakota, 1980.

Lit.:  "Rare Burmese Instrument Acquired," Shrine to Music Museum, Inc. Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 1 (October 1980), p. 4.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 2.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 54, plate XXI.

André P. Larson, The National Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), p. 28.


Myanmar (Burma)

Drum

NMM 2685. Ozi, Burma (Myanmar), late 19th century. Goblet-shaped drum made by hollowing out a single block of wood. Held vertically, resting on the drummer’s chest, and suspended by a cord around the neck. Used in traditional outdoor dance ensembles. Rawlins Fund, 1980.

Lit.:  Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 19.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 41, plate XV.

Sarah E. Smith, "Percussion Instruments in America's Shrine to Music Museum," Percussive Notes, Vol. 37, No. 1 (February 1999), p. 7.


Myanmar (Burma)

Zither

NMM 2618. Mi-gyaung, Mon people, southern Burma (Myanmar), 19th century. Crocodile-shaped zither. This simple, but elegant, zither has three strings that pass over four raised, brass frets. The tuning pegs are made of ivory, carved to resemble lotus blossoms. Decorated with gold paint and colored glass. Played with a plectrum. Beede Fund, 1979.

Lit.:  Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 3.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 54, plate XXII.

André P. Larson, The National Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), p. 28.


Philippines

Drum

NMM 6106. Drum, Sulu people, southern Philippines, 20th century. Teak, ornately carved with Islamic designs. Eight feet tall. Previous owner bought drum on Tawi Tawi Island. Purchase funds gift of Margaret Ann and Hubert H. Everist, Sioux City, Iowa, 1998.

Lit.:  André P. Larson, "25th Anniversary to be Observed with Special Events," America's Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 25, No. 3 (May 1998), p. 1.

Sarah E. Smith, "Percussion Instruments in America's Shrine to Music Museum," Percussive Notes, Vol. 37, No. 1 (February 1999), p. 10.


Southeast Asia

Gongs

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NMM 10058 and 10059. Gongs, Southeast Asia, mid-20th century. Brass gongs produced for the arts and antiquities market, manufactured in a style similar to that of traditional gong making, but with much thinner walls. Raised central knob. Typically, gongs of this size punctuate ensemble playing with low, sonorous tones whose sound fades into silence, unless dampened. The repoussé features concentric rings and paired roosters and crocodiles, symbolic of fertility and royalty in many East Asian cultures. Gift of Western International, Inc., Greeley, Colorado, 2001.


Thailand (Siam)

Bell

NMM 1252. Bell, Po•ng la•ng, Siam (Thailand), 19th century. Anvil-shaped bell carved from single piece of hardwood. Single wooden clapper. Traditionally hung around the necks of cattle and other domesticated livestock. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Lit.:  Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 23.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 46, plate XIX.


Thailand (Siam)

Conch Shell Trumpet

NMM 7093. Conch shell trumpet (săng), Southeast Asia (possibly Thailand), 20th century. Pewter extensions with geometric wave motif and sea dragon (makara). Sharply tapered posterior extension. Buddhism's spread has yielded countless variations of design and style, seen here as manifest in Southeast Asia, perhaps Malaysia or Thailand. Joe R. and Joella F. Utley Collection, 1999.


Thailand (Siam)

Drum

NMM 5405. Glaw•ng ae•, northern Siam (Thailand), late 19th century. Goblet drum on two-wheeled cart. One piece of wood, hollowed-out. More than ten feet long, weighing more than 1,000 pounds. Used principally in Buddhist temples in nothern provinces of Thailand to signal and regulate temple activities. Also played in festive processions and to accompany folk dances. Traditional drums like this one are highly respected and never stepped over or touched with the feet. Purchase funds gift of LaVonne & Clifford E. Graese, Windermere, Florida, 1992.

Lit.:  "Rare Thai Drum Acquired; Exhibited in Lobby," The Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter, Vol. 20, No. 3 (April 1993), p. 4.

André P. Larson, "Glaw•ng ae•, Goblet Drum and Cart, Northern Thailand, late 19th century," South Dakota Musician, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Spring 1993), front cover and p. 22.

Ted Muenster, "South Dakota's Shrine to Music," Prairie Fire 3, No. 4 (April 2009): 14.


Thailand (Siam)

Gongs

NMM 2432. Kwáw•ng, Siam (Thailand), 19th century. Small, knobbed, bronze gong. The art of casting bronze developed thousands of years ago in China and gongs like this have been made ever since. This particular example has a five-pointed star engraved on the front. When played, it is suspended by a cord that passes through two holes in the circular rim. Struck on the knob with a padded beater. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Lit.:  Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 22.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 43, plate XVIII.

NMM 2434. Kwáw•ng, Siam (Thailand), 19th century. Similar to NMM 2432, but larger. Bronze gongs are used for a wide variety of purposes throughout the world, including ceremonial functions in courts or in musical contexts, such as in the Indonesian gamelan. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Lit.:  Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 22.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 46, plate XVIII.



NMM 1256. Kwáw•ng, Siam (Thailand), 19th century. Similar to NMM 2432 and NMM 2434 but even larger. This example has a diameter of 27.5 cm. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Lit.:  Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 23.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 46, plate XIX.


Thailand (Siam) or Myanmar (Burma)

Gong

NMM 2683. Ka si (kettle gong), Siam (Thailand) or Burma (Myanmar), ca. 1630-1680. Cast-bronze gong with integral handle. Instruments like the ka si (literally, "frog drum") are often associated with the magico-religious practice of summoning rain. Frog drums are highly valued among the mountain-dwelling people groups living along the border separating present-day Thailand and Myanmar. The procession of cast-bronze animals on the side of the barrel is missing an elephant, which may have been cut off and buried with the gong’s original owner. Attributed to the Ayudhya period in Siam (1350-1767), based on the shape of the resonating cavity and the adornment. Rawlins Fund, 1980.

Lit.:  Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 20.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 41, plates XVI and XVII.

André P. Larson, The National Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: National Music Museum, 1988), p. 29.


Thailand or Laos

Free Reeds:  Mouth Organs

NMM 3319. Gaeng, Hmong people, Laos/northern Thailand, 20th century. Free reed mouth organ with six pairs of bamboo tubes set into a gourd windchest. Like the khaen and the Chinese sheng, each tube contains a reed, typically made of brass. The gaeng is often played to accompany dancing in funeral rites and other rituals. Board of Trustees, 1983.


NMM 1260. Khaen baet, Lao people, northeast Thailand, mid-20th century. A free-reed instrument with eight pairs of bamboo tubes (the longest measuring 88 cm), set into a hardwood windchest and sealed with a wax secreted by an indigenous, wasp-like insect. Each tube contains a brass reed that is activated when a finger hole above the windchest is stopped. The khaen is played both monophonically and polyphonically; it can be used as a solo instrument or to accompany singing. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Lit.:  Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 24.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 51, plate XX.


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NMM 2945. Khaen baet, Lao people, northeast Thailand, mid-20th century. Eight pairs of bamboo pipes (the longest measuring 82 cm), with brass reeds, set into a hardwood windchest. Larger khaens, measuring up to 3 meters in length, were documented by travelers in 19th-century Thailand. The pitches of the pipes are arranged in a highly idiosyncratic manner, as Lao music consists of a series of modes rather than a linear scale. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Lit.:  Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, The Shrine to Music Museum Catalog of the Collections, Vol. II, André P. Larson, editor (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1982), p. 24.

Thomas E. Cross, Instruments of Burma, India, Nepal, Thailand and Tibet, M.M. Thesis, University of South Dakota, May 1983, p. 51, plate XX.

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