Gourd, skin, wood
L. 64.4 cm (23-13/16 in.); W. 27.5 cm (10-13/16 in.); D. 40 cm (15-3/4 in.)
Gift of The Center for Musical Antiquities, 1983
The hide strings, like the figural bridge through which they pass, are vertically aligned with the belly. This stringing technique, found along Africa's west coast from Senegal to Angola, places the instrument in a special classification called harp-lute. To the European eye, the polelike neck suggests a lute; and the string arrangement, a harp. African classifications and names of instruments vary from people to people: this instrument is known as sanku (upper Guinea), kasso (Gambia), simbing (Mali), and kora (Senegal). The carved female figure is similar to those found on Senufu rhythm pounders and staffs; it represents a primordial mother image.
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