Art/ Collection/ Art Object


Sea Dayaks (Iban)
19th century
Sarawak (northern Borneo), Malaysia
Iban people
Coconut, wood, skin, rattan
L. 100.5 cm (39½ in); Body: Diam. 15 cm (6 in.); D. 10 cm (4 in.); Finial depth. 24 cm (9½ in.) Bow 20.4 cm. (8 in.)
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
Not on view
The Iban people of northern Borneo formerly made the enserunai, a distinctive one-stringed instrument that was played with a small bow and had a resonating chamber made from a coconut shell or gourd. When playing, the performer sat on the ground and held the stem in the left hand with the resonator either resting against the calf of the leg or with the lower tip of the stem grasped in the toes. To get the proper sound, the string was moistened with saliva and the musician played it with the bow pressing down on the string at various points on the stem to vary the pitch as with a Western violin. Little is known about the contexts in which the instrument was used or its musical repertoire although its sound was quite soft. Enserunai were reportedly used to play the tunes of dirges sung for deaths or burials although whether the instrument was employed only when rehearsing or at the actual ceremonies is uncertain.
Marking: in white ink on finial "0018"
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown ; Father Dunn
"Musical Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1978), Vol. XXXV, No. 3, pg. 22, ill.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Oceanica and America. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1913, vol. II, pg. 17, ill.

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