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Sesando

Date:
late 19th century
Geography:
Nusa Tenggara, Timor Island, Indonesia
Medium:
Bamboo, wood, palm (Borassus flabellifera), wire
Dimensions:
Overall: H. 56 x W. 61 x D. 31cm (22 1/16 x 24 x 12 3/16in.) Tube: H. 48 x Diam. 5.5cm (18 7/8 x 2 3/16in.)
Classification:
Chordophone-Zither-plucked-tube
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
89.4.1489
  • Description

    Among the most remarkable string instruments in Oceania is the sesando, a tubular bamboo zither with ten or eleven metal strings set in a sounding box made from the frond of a lontar palm. Collected on the Indonesian island of Timor, this sesando was likely made by a member of the local Rotinese community whose residents originated on the neighboring island of Roti. When playing, the musician uses the right hand to pluck the bass strings while the left hand plays the treble. The pitch is adjusted with a complex series of movable bridges and tuning pegs. Used at weddings and funerals, the sesando is believed to possess supernatural powers. Occasionally played as a solo instrument, this zither is predominantly used to accompany songs with verses composed in bini, a special poetic language, and refrains in ordinary Rotinese. The songs are often philosophical, portraying the world as dominated by inescapable fate and life as at times disappointing and ultimately fleeting.

  • Provenance

    James Sibree

  • References

    "Musical Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1978), Vol. XXXV, No. 3, pg. 10-11, ill.



  • See also
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
502064

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