Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Khāēn

Date:
late 19th century
Geography:
Thailand and Myanmar (formerly Burma)
Culture:
Thai or Burmese
Medium:
Wood, skin, iron
Dimensions:
Longest pipe 102.9 cm (40-1/2 in.); Shortest pipe 73.7 cm (29 in.)
Classification:
Aerophone-Free Reed-mouth organ
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
89.4.243
Not on view
Legend holds that this free-reed instrument, played in the tribal music of Thailand and Laos, was invented to imitate the voice of the karaweik bird. To sound the Khāēn one exhales or inhales into a wind chamber to activate metal reeds which are attached to each bamboo pipe and concealed by the wooden chamber. Opening a finger hole above the chamber allows air to vibrate the reed and sound. Also found in Laos, this mouthorgan is related to others throughout Asia.
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Historical Groups, Gallery 39. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1905, pg. 62.



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