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Ensuranai

Sea Dayaks (Iban)

Date:
19th century
Geography:
Sarawak (northern Borneo), Malaysia
Culture:
Iban people
Medium:
Coconut, wood, skin, rattan
Dimensions:
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.)
Classification:
Chordophone-Lute-bowed-unfretted
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
89.4.2365
  • Description

    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.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Marking: in white ink on finial "0018"

  • Provenance

    Father Dunn (see letter 11/24/90) St. Francis Xavier's Mission, Kanowit, Sarawak, Borneo

  • References

    "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.



  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
502724

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